miss_swamp: (apple)
We're going to both a birthday party and a twin-club potluck tomorrow, so I decided to make some gluten-free cupcakes so we'd be sure the boys won't feel deprived. I was all set to make them from scratch, but when I got home from work I discovered that not one but two sample packs of GF foods had arrived. Among the new goodies was a box of yellow cake mix, which I figured would make the process even easier. The cake was a bust and I'll make some from scratch in the morning, but that's not what amused me.

The kids were gleefully snacking on all the new treats, but at some point I told them they couldn't have any more because I wanted them to be hungry for dinner. Bobby asked for cupcakes and I replied that we needed to eat something a little healthier. Soup, I said. He thought for a minute and declared that no, we should have cupcakes and fries for dinner. I demurred. Welll, we can have a cupcake after the soup.

After a bit of cheerful back-and forth on the question of soup vs. fries, Bobby placed his hands on either side of my face and leaned in close like the Latin lover in a movie. Nose to nose, gazing intently into my eyes, he murmured slowly and passionately: "You're not making soup for dinner. You're making cupcakes. And fries."

Maybe Jedi mind tricks only work if the target doesn't bust out laughing.
miss_swamp: (giggle)
I know every other entry I post here whines about not being able to sing. It's true, I'm not singing in a group unless you count our regular family renditions of "The Wheels on the Bus." But Ellen and I do a duet every night.

It started with Ellen refusing to have her teeth brushed. She'd clamp down on the toothbrush, suck out the toothpaste and declare: "All done!" So I started opening my mouth and going "Aaah" to try to get her to do the same while I was brushing her teeth. At some point I started singing it, kind of like in Disney's Cinderella, instead of just saying it. She thought it was funny, and then she joined me. Now we're both "Aaah"ing random melodies the whole time I'm brushing. My range is coming back, and let me tell you, that girl's teeth are clean.

How long before I can teach her the second part to The Flower Duet from Lakme? and if not her yet, wanna try it, [livejournal.com profile] ewigweibliche? I performed it with [livejournal.com profile] solcita a thousand 7 years ago, but my skillz have definitely gone downhill since then.
miss_swamp: (twins)
Every night as part of our bedtime routine, I ask the boys two questions. The first is: "What was fun today?" They used to answer pretty straightforwardly, but lately, unless we did something completely spectacular, Bobby just says "Pizza!" (whether we ate pizza or not), and Andrew says, "Everything!" It's a little lazy, but whatever.

The second question is: "How did you help someone today?" Again, they used to try to answer the question. I'd help them think of simple ideas: finding Ellen's monkey, putting some dishes away, sharing toys. But I guess that got boring, because now they both think of the most fantastic stories they can. Now they anticipate it: "Mama, ask me how I helped somebody!" so they can say stuff like: "I helped Keagan [whom they haven't seen in 6 weeks] because she was stuck in a fire and she couldn't see" or "I helped Zach because he was stuck in a hole after he planted some blueberry plants" or "I helped Grandpa Sage make some mint ice cream." Stuff like that, different every night. What? I try to lead them back to things they really did, but compared to putting out fires, sharing your teddy bear is awfully dull.
miss_swamp: (swamp)
I am suddenly unspeakably grumpy. We got home about an hour ago from a great joint birthday for our friend (my ex's partner) and his 2-year-old son. The first half was at their house, with cake and banh mi and toddler insanity. Then a couple of babysitters showed up and the grown-ups all went to a nearby bar for toddler-free happy hour. James and I sat with my ex and talked about math and education. I had a hot buttered rum. It was very pleasant and (even though?) we were home before 7:00.

I need more opportunities for real conversations. )

In the meantime, as a friend of mine pointed out, there's no way to say "Hey, hang out with MEEE" that doesn't sound desperate. So, um, hey, hang out with me? Maybe we can talk about math or education or the thugs in my neighborhood.
miss_swamp: (ringer)
I need to remember how lucky I am.

Yesterday, to cap off a tough and unstable week, our subsitute nanny slipped on the stairs and landed on Ellen's ankle. An Urgent Care visit this morning ended with Ellen in a splint with a probable ankle fracture, and more follow-up to come this week. I was just chatting with a friend about the situation, and she was ready to break out the firearms. I love the boys more than life itself, but Ellen is my heart, my precious, my baby. And now she's in pain and can't even walk. I was thinking about weapons myself.

But let's back up a step and look at the big picture:
-- It could have happened to any of us. My brother's babysitter slipped while carrying him when he was tiny, and wrecked her back permanently. We got off easy.
-- It wasn't Ellen's head.
-- We have adequate insurance and sick leave (from our stable, full-time jobs), so this won't be a financial strain.

And now three steps further back and remember:
-- We have a calm (as much as possible with 3 little ones), secure and financially stable home.
-- It helps to have a partner who loves and respects you. It helps to share dreams and goals as well as responsibilities.
-- Another reason we have a predictable home life is that I was taught routines--not just schedules--by my own awesome parents. They disagreed civilly, showed each other affection, played with us. We had dinner together almost every night. We had conversations. Bedtime went the same way every night until I was way older than you'd think. James and I are carrying that on with our own kids. We could probably be a bit more flexible about some of it, really, but I love that we're creating a world where our children know exactly what to expect and know that they can trust us.

They're lucky to have us, we're lucky to have them. And each other. And really, what more could we wish for?
miss_swamp: (twins)
The mini-dudes are suddenly obsessed with the idea of killing. Even in some dumb book, I'll be reading that the kids chased the dog and they'll insist, "No, they KILLED the dog." It's somewhat disturbing. We've been trying to be clear about how serious death is,

But tonight it got stranger. They were playing in the dining room after dinner and not being especially gentle with the chairs. Most of our furniture makes acceptable playthings, but these particular chairs have seat cushions that were hand-embroidered by James's beloved grandmother. So he asked them to stop jumping off of them and they said why and he said because they were made by his grandma, who'd died. "Why did she die?" they asked. Their "Why"s are getting more interesting.

Well, because everyone dies eventually, he said.

"Not us!"

Yes, even you.

And they lost it. They came running into the kitchen sobbing that they didn't want to die, ever. Buried their faces in my skirt as I pulled them into my lap. I told them they probably wouldn't die for a very, very long time.

Andrew pulled away long enough to ask tearfully, "What day?" Maybe in 90 years, I said. When you're way older than grandma and grandpa. As long as you stay safe, wear your seat belt and your helmet.

"Some people die because they get sick." Yes, but right now we're healthy. "I'm going to eat all my food so I can be healthy." Great.

Eventually they asked us whom we'd known who had died. We told them about our grandparents, who'd fairly long lives. Then I mentioned my Aunt Elaine, who passed away last year, way too young, after a long and horrible battle with cancer. "Why didn't the doctors make her better?" Well, they tried, but they couldn't.

That shook them up either more. They went through our entire family, demanding reassurance. "Are you going to be okay?" Yes. "Is Daddy going to be okay?" Yes. It may not be true in the long run, but it's true right now.

Of course, they kept asking questions about death for the rest of the evening, and they had a rare post-lights-out freakout about "noises" that I'm guessing was related.

These conversations are just going to get more and more complicated, aren't they?
miss_swamp: (swamp)
I think Maggie and I should just co-teach all day, every day. Think what we could accomplish with an 11-1 student-teacher ratio!

And then I had to come home early because the nanny had another dentist appointment. Very politically incorrect for the first day of school.

And then I found the enormous wheat sandwich on the counter. She'll deny giving them gluten, but I think she did. Dammit, I work my butt off and spend a quadrillion dollars to give them food that they CAN and WILL eat, and nobody better mess with that.

And then the boys work up from the nap they only took because they fell asleep in front of the TV I wish they hadn't been watching in the first place. So of course they were sobbing for no reason for 45 minutes.

And THEN I got a call from the boy's teacher; apparently I forgot to tell the nanny that they didn't have school today. So they drove 30 miles in traffic for no reason. I suck.

But school? School was great!
miss_swamp: (teacher angst)
was reprimanded in class today for not giving other students enough think time.

lusted after the iPods at Fred Meyer, but NPR and actual computers will have to do until the new iPhone comes out.

thinks you should know that they put mushrooms in the tofu banh mi at Q Deli and mint as well as basil in the pesto for the caprese at Columbia City Bakery, and both are the best in their respective classes. Also, Full Tilt is much better than Molly Moon, for sure. South Seattle ain't the culinary wasteland some folks seem to think.

is going to be competent at Hair And Makeup in my next life.

may be going back to the classroom sooner than I thought. Like, October. Probably 5th grade (which would mean sex ed stories for you!) Oy.

should post more pictures and positive stories about the boys. They really are at least 85% delightful; and besides, I'd hate for them to start resenting their sister.

[some gooey thing about Ellen]

[some gooey thing about James]

is both proud and disappointed that by far the best GF pizza around appears to be made by ... me.+

still doesn't want to go back to work.
miss_swamp: (Default)
By nature, my family is a little on the round side. My dad was in good enough shape for his stint in the Air Force, but once he left and I came along, he got a little squishy. I guess it was a little before my brother was born that my grandfather had his quadruple bypass surgery. My dad took his own father's brush with mortality as motivation to get in shape. He didn't want that to be him. So he started running. Over 30 years later, he has yet to stop. He started running marathons in the fall of 1982 and has run at least one, often two or three, every year since. He's about -12% body fat and 20% gristle. If you're stuck on a desert island with him, he will not make good eatin'.

And he's kind of my role model.

My own reasons for getting into shape are far more shallow. Of course I want to be healthy and I want to have the energy to be a good parent and teacher and I want to live long enough to know our grandchildren. But honestly? I want my old clothes to fit (they do). I want to feel attractive (comes and goes). I want my husband to be sitting in a rocking chair when he's 85 and telling everyone what a babe his wife was (he's not a bragger and we're a long way from 85, but I'm working on the "babe" part).

The main reason I run is that my time is limited. I've been wondering lately what my exercise would look like if I had all the time I wanted, as I did last time I lost weight--then, I was at the gym for over an hour every day. Now I have from whenever I drag my ass out of bed until 7:05-at-the-latest. Running can start the second I walk outside the door, no need for keys or drive time or gas stops. When the weather gets worse and the mornings are darker, I'll have to get back to the gym more often. Lately I'm running outside 4 mornings per week, hitting the treadmill at the gym 2 mornings, and having to convince myself to relax on Sundays.

But I'm also finding a greater appreciation for our neighborhood at 6:00 am. For all its issues at midnight and at noon, the dawn is kind to South Beacon Hill. I'm seeing more sunrises. I'm breathing in cool air. I'm meeting neighbors, if just to say hi. There's a group of middle-aged Black guys and an older Vietnamese man who shoot hoops at the park a few mornings a week. The raccoons along the Chief Sealth Trail are the size of Great Danes. The wildflowers are almost romantic.

I'm nowhere near running a marathon. This morning I did 2.5 miles in 28 minutes, which works out to 5.3 miles per hour. I never run for more than 1/4 mile or so without walking a bit, though I'm trying to stretch that (turns out, warming up helps--who knew?). But I could see trying for a 5K sometime soon, maybe a 10K next summer. I'm starting to wonder how far I could go. For years I assumed I couldn't run because of my lupus; I feel the arthritis worst in my hands, feet and knees. But as long as I take a day or two off every week, well, so far so good and I want to do more. A half-marathon isn't out of the question, but it'll be years before I can take as much time to myself as preparing for that would require.

In the meantime, I'm still wearing the same shoes I had in 2003. It's true they had a few years off, but given how hard I've been working and how consistent I've become? I just may deserve another pair soon.


Aug. 22nd, 2011 05:45 pm
miss_swamp: (Default)
Summer is winding down. It's hard work taking care of three little kids on my own, but I'm finding myself far more reluctant this year to return to my job. Part of that is that is that my job is shifting and my boss is incompetent and I'm not ready to deal with either of those facts. But also? This SAHM gig isn't as hard as it used to be, and the moments of sweetness and hilarity are becoming more frequent.

The nanny was here for most of today. I was presenting a workshop this afternoon, and I needed part of the morning to finish getting ready. The presentation went smoothly, the technology worked, and I struck the right balance of clear, valuable content with humor and cynicism. The evaluations I saw were excellent. When I walked out, I felt not just smart but prettier, cooler--despite the fact that my topic was by far the dorkiest one on offer.

Weight-related aside )

Anyway, after my session I went and had tea all by myself for an hour, then went home. There the nanny greeted me with news that she has an appointment next Wednesday and will be quite late.

And I almost cried. Next Wednesday, you see, is our first furlough day, but James and I had decided that we'd have the nanny come anyway and he'd take the day off too. Since it's a school day for the boys, we'd have the house to ourselves for a while in the morning and then go out for lunch and a movie. Sounds nice, right? But now we don't get the time to ourselves at home. Booooo. Maybe it sounds dumb to whine about that; after all, we're both home most nights. But I'd been looking forward to it--do you have any idea how long it's been? We could have gotten some cleaning done, or painted a bit--or just sat around pretending it was 2006.

Tomorrow I have my last math enrichment sessions in the morning and perhaps I'll write about the racial Stuff going on there. Wednesday is a normal school/Mommy-Ellen day. Thursday I have a school meeting, and Friday we're going downtown to visit James at work. And that's it. I'd meant to take the kids swimming, to see more teacher/SAHM friends, to go to the Museum of Flight and the beach and the farmer's market.

There will be other chances. And now we start our tally to Winter Break.
miss_swamp: (teacher angst)
I'm a feminist raised by feminists in the hippiest environment you can imagine. I should know better. But Bitch Brain, she is powerful.

cut for weight blather )

* I can do the physical practice at home just fine, but the mental/spiritual piece is a bit harder. On the other hand, going to yoga class makes me want a yoga instructor's body** and cool strappy clothes, so maybe I should stay away.
** A yoga instructor is a real person whom I know in real life. She's not air-brushed, plastic surgeried or otherwise Hollywood-enhanced. Is this healthier or more realistic than wanting a movie star's body? Probably not.


Aug. 12th, 2011 08:19 am
miss_swamp: (teacher angst)
Now I want another vacation. London was great and I'd like to return, but I think what I'm missing most right now are these things:

- Spending copious amounts of grown-up time with James. It's true that we get at least 2 hours alone together every night, but after working and kid-wrangling all day, we don't have the energy to do much more than watch TV or finish cleaning up. On kid-free vacation, we went to museums. We thought about history and politics. We walked all over the place. We devoured gluten at every meal, dammit. We had the energy to joke and flirt and girl-watch. It would have been fine to do some things separately, but we spent all day together and still liked each other. It was great.

- Being spontaneous. We picked restaurants that were nearby when we decided we were hungry. We decided at 6 pm to go out to a bar for pub quiz. We debated various destinations before deciding on Wednesday to spend Thursday night in Cardiff. We had a lot of gelato. Because we could.

Obviously we wouldn't have to cross the Atlantic or even the state to have these things again. Someday it will be like that even when we're home. We only have 14 years left on our mortgage and we're saving like crazy for retirement. Our golden years are gonna be awesome.

Eventually--maybe in 5 years?--we'll be able to travel with the kids and still be somewhat sponataneous and have some time to ourselves. That will be good too.

My mom is fond of telling me that they didn't have nearly the support that we do. We get at least two date nights per month, after all. But they were also married for eight years before they had kids--one baby at a time and five years apart. So maybe they didn't need it as much as we do, either. And I know they're enjoying their (semi-)retirement together quite a bit.
miss_swamp: (twins)
The boys ripped up a bunch of books during "Quiet" Time. I've been frustrated, irritated, impatient, annoyed--but this filled me with sadness and fury more than anything they've done. Maybe it's how a fundamentalist feels when she hears her kid take the Lord's name in vain: you're betraying our values. Haven't we taught you that books are precious? I really wanted to spank them, as if that would get them to get them to take it seriously.

But I didn't. Instead I made them pack up the ripped-up pages into a bag for recycling. While they were doing that, I packed up every single book in their room and took it to our bathroom. And of course, at the same time I was lecturing them. They'd acted like babies, I said. And if they wanted to act like babies, we could treat them like babies. They could eat applesauce and mashed peas instead of sandwiches and watermelon. They could play with teddy bears and rattles instead of riding tricycles and shooting basketball. They could go to bed earlier and have a nap instead of quiet time during the day. And of course, they couldn't have books in their room or unsupervised for a long, long time.

It made them cry. "I want books! I want to eat big kid food! I do like books!"

miss_swamp: (ringer)
I'm writing this down so we can do it again. It's been a nice day.

Slept in a bit (6:30), then got up and went for a run. A wussy run, but a RUN! Perhaps I shouldn't feel so naughty running around the track at the Islamic school in a skimpy top--nobody's there at 6:45 am on a Sunday anyway.

Came home and the kids weren't even up yet. When they got up, I made bacon, eggs and lemon scones for breakfast.

Gave James a break by taking the kids to the West Seattle Farmer's Market. Got strawberries and spinach. Hung out at Coffee to a Tea for a while, messing around on Facebook while they played with the toy trains and airplanes.

Got home just in time to make lunch: sandwiches, cherry tomatoes, strawberries. We ate outside because the boys had been riding their "motorcycles" while I got lunch ready.

James took the boys to Fry's. I put Ellen down for a nap. I need to get her up momentarily, but I've been baking the afternoon away: cupcakes for little strawberry shortcakes, brownies to cool and fold into homemade ice cream, soon I'll make pizza dough for tonight's dinner. Probably what I should have done is start making the parts for the boys' fire truck cakes for their birthday party next weekend, but no, we'll eat all this in the next few days. Tonight, assuming anyone shows up, we're having a few people over for some low-key socializing.

And tomorrow is the 4th of July. I'm sick of the explosions already, but I'm glad we'll have an extra day with James around. I hope it will be as pleasant as today has been.
miss_swamp: (giggle)
We were at PCC. Ellen was on the top of the cart. They were giving away cheese samples.

I gave her a chunk of provolone and she gobbled it down. "More cheese, please," she said.

I gave her a chunk of parmesan and she gobbled it down. "More cheese, please," she said.

I gave her a chunk of gorgonzola and she gobbled it down. "Mmm. More cheese please," she said.

I couldn't keep taking apart the cheese display, so I told her she could have some mozzarella at home. I'm not sure that will suffice ever again.
miss_swamp: (twins)
I've found a nearly foolproof way to keep the boys (and often Ellen) awake during midday car trips. We sing! But not just any songs, no, and not anything so pedestrian as the ABC song: transportation songs. We sing endless variations on "The Wheels on the Bus." There's "The Wheels on the Garbage Truck," "The Wheels on the Fire Truck," "The Wheels on the Ambulance," "The Wheels on the Police Car," and (new today) "The Wings on the Airplane."

But of course, those aren't real songs so we just make up verses. Many, many verses. Some of them get pretty ridiculous:

The people on the ambulance go "Uuuunnhh, I'm sick, uuuunnnh, I'm sick [etc]." all around the town.
The workers on the ambulance go "Let me help, let me help."
The medicine on the ambulance goes "That feels better, that feels better."

The workers on the garbage truck go "Oof, that's heavy, oof, that's heavy."
The garbage on the garbage truck goes "Pee-yew, stinky! Pee-yew, stinky!"

The police officers in the police car say, "Hey, be good! Hey, be good!"

We haven't tried these songs with James in the car yet, but he'll probably hate them. Sometimes it's worth it to keep them awake.

antici ...

Jun. 27th, 2011 09:23 pm
miss_swamp: (teacher angst)
... pation )

In other anticipation news: 32 days to London! That'll break the summer up. Any recommendations?
miss_swamp: (ringer)
I'm tired. I've been getting up and hitting the gym before 5:30 for 3 weeks now in an effort to move the stalled scale. It's working, but I'm not sure how long I can keep up the 6-workouts-per-week schedule. More sleep and more snuggles would also be healthy. On the other hand, I've been wearing all these clothes that have been in storage since 2007. It feels like shopping with none of the effort or expense. :)

blah blah blah )

What I really want is some adult time. That's going to be even more important as the school year wraps up and I'm with these characters all day. I want to go to a grown-up party, but either those don't happen, or we don't get invited anymore, or they happen without much notice so we can't get babysitting. I'm SO READY for our London/Wales trip--I asked James this morning if we could go today, but he said no. Maybe a weekend in Centralia? Hell, one night in Burien. I just need some time to be an adult and a wife and get a little less exhausted. (And yes, we just had date nights two weekends in a row so I shouldn't complain, but I think it takes longer than 5 hours to recover from Intense Parent Mode and relax and enjoy each other.)

How long before we can start trading off slumber parties?
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