Saturday, October 30, 2010

There's No Crying in Baseball! Plenty in Childrearing Though

It's the end of the month, and the hubby and I are feeling the pinch. It's a good thing my parents give us diapers or the kids would be wearing newspaper diapers... except for, of course we can't afford the newspaper. So sales sheets then, but anyways.
It's terrible that, barring total cool come ups, our moods seem dependent on my check coming in. They say money doesn't buy happiness, but extreme poverty sure seems to supply a lot of misery.
That said, this isn't a post about money, it, I believe, is going to be a post about moods.
And lifting up bad moods.
Today is October 30th, not usually a day of significance, but Halloween falls on a Sunday this year. My church is very big on keeping the sabbath holy, so the church Halloween party is tonight instead of tomorrow. I've signed up to bring a pie and some chili. Kendyl has a great princess costume, and Tyler has a not-so-great but will work dragon costume. I think I can make it a little bit more awesome by borrowing some hair wax from my neighbor and painting his face.
In the spirit of being a bad Mormon, I'm taking this opportunity to give my kids two Halloweens. They have never been actual trick or treating, being how we usually go to the church function, so I'm taking them to the greatest street for trick or treating in the valley.
This street, Minerva lane, is often called Candycane Lane. My husband pointed out that usually it's called that during Christmas... but everyone from here knows where you are talking about when you say "Candycane Lane" no matter what time of year it is.
I figure that it's a term of this neighborhood's HOA. My faith in humanity has died just enough for me to doubt that this whole neighborhood willingly and without fail gets super crazy during holidays. Cars line the streets just to see the lights on Christmas, but Halloween is pretty awesome too.
Haunted houses built in people's garages, animatronic zombies and lighted graveyards galore. It may be totally worth breaking my "being a good Mormon as far as anyone can tell" thing. I think maybe even actual good Mormons might be taking advantage of this two Halloweens thing. Maybe not SUPER good Mormons, but those people are scary, I know, I grew up in a family of them.
So, we are going to carve a pumpkin today. That is either going to be super cool and fun and the kids are going to love it.... OR it's going to be the biggest pain in the ass/ fiasco we've ever gone through. I don't think there is a middle ground on this one.
An activity involving fragile produce, a mess, a marker and sharp objects around two toddlers keyed up on some early-bird candy. Hmmm...
I guess time will tell.
I'm probably going to add more to this later, including pictures.
But I need to:
borrow the hair wax
get the costumes together
try to get something for me to wear
work out what I'm going to do with lil' B
find a ride for me and the kids
make my chili
get stuff together to carve the pumpkin
decide a good time to carve the pumpkin
give the kids a bath after carving the pumpkin
curse my life a few times
Have a Happy Halloween! (that's the toughie!)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Eating Out of the Garbage

Ha! I thought that might catch your attention. And it's not in the least bit untrue.
Last night, the hubby and I dined on baked MahiMahi fish tacos on whole wheat tortillas with beautiful diced tomatoes, cabbage and lime zest garnish. The only part of the meal I actually paid for was the 99 cent side of noodles (Lipton, baby)
Now, not all of this was found in the trash. The tortillas, and the veggies, even the lime was bought with WIC's new fresh produce checks. For those of you not on WIC, or who have graduated from the program a while ago, WIC now provides you with fresh, frozen or canned produce. If you know how to properly shop for produce, you can seriously score with the two $6.00 produce checks you get per month having two kids under age five.
Not only did I get the head of cabbage, one nice tomato and two limes, but I also got a Tyler-sized bunch of bananas and about 5 gala apples.
But anyways, that's not entirely off subject, because as you can possibly tell, this blog post is about living for less money! But back to eating out of the trash, that's what you came here for, right? The juicy bits.
Well, we ran out of coffee that morning, (tragedy, right?) I seem to remember one of those big tins lasting all month. The money left on the foodstamps was for milk only (no cheating!) and so we were doomed to go until the 5th with NO COFFEE. Dear, sweet Jesus.
Tim went out, like he does every morning to look for cans and came back at the customary time with a normal to good amount of what we call, "White Trash Cash." He then mysteriously told me, "You know, I don't always get what I want... but I always get what I need."
Ok, my interest is piqued. I'm like a child on Christmas morning, whatd' I get? whatd' I get?
In the past, he has returned from his forays with plenty of cool stuff. He says it always makes him think of the lady's nightmare from "Look Who's Talking" where the John Travolta character says, "Hey! Just because it's free doesn't mean it's no good!" We have each gotten about 3 pairs of new shoes, he found a pair of nice Dockers with the tags still on, and the cool silver bracelet I'm wearing was found in a dumpster. He particularly likes finding canned food. There's nothing a dumpster can do to canned food.
Well, this day was particularly profitable. He found a vacuum sealed package of ground sirloin, (the good stuff) An unopened package of Chicken Breast (he opened in and it looked freezer burnt, so he didn't bring that home) and a package of individually vacuum sealed MahiMahi tuna fillets. All still frozen solid. I love vacuum sealed packages... that's proof to me that everything is still good and safe.
All that luxurious food is one thing, but you know what else he found? An unopened jar of Folgers crystals!!! Enough to last until the 5th!
Not the tacos I made, but just as nice-looking!

Talk about a miracle from God. He's still reeling from that. More than we even did when we ate those lovely fish tacos last night. That was nice and everything, and picture perfect (but the batteries in my digital died.... grrrr...) But we NEEDED that coffee.... NEEDED. And God and the dumpster provided.
To anyone who missed the words, "vacuum sealed" and "unopened" and is still sitting in from of their computer saying, "Eww" Remember, we are on a very low, fixed income. These things that my husband finds on his "adventures" are an absolute Godsend, not even counting the cans that keep us going the rest of the month after my check is gone (on about the 8th.)
I figure it's the perks of being terribly poor. I don't see people with nice cars and Coach bags getting free stuff on a daily (or at least a weekly basis.) So judge if you must... but I have a brand new pair of DCs and a silver bracelet and we ate MahiMahi last night. It's a nice life.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Back is in Shadow

I try so hard to keep my face to the sun.
But when on my face is warmth and light, at my back is shadow.
Do we really ever bear the dark thoughts and feelings out into the world, or do we keep them bottled inside?
This perfect persona we show to this internet world. If we can slough off our negative attributes before we present ourselves... I mean, who wouldn't.
I feel myself slipping into depression. There's so many things I wish I could help, but can't.
My helplessness, I'm alone with my thoughts. I'm alone with my pain. I am the only one who truly understands.
Yet I don't understand.
I would love to bear it all to you, my friends. I fear losing your respect, I fear losing my validity.
I don't want pity. I don't want an army to defend me from my life.
When I feel like this, I don't like the way I act. I act the way I feel.
I know this will pass.
My moods have always come and gone like clouds across the sun.
When I have nothing more to cling to in this desperate depression, I cling to that.
I go through it, and like water off a duck's back, it goes.
And then the sun comes out again.
I turn my face to that hope, letting it's rays warm my face.
But even still, at my back is this shadow.

Don't worry, readers of my blog. My teen angsty stuff has no place in this particular blog. This was written as a writer's prompt from Mama Kats. Have no fear I have turned dark and gothic or whatnot.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kendyl, Warrior Princess!

I have decided that I don't give Kendyl enough face time on this blog.

There could be several reasons that this is so. Perhaps it's that I have so much trouble with her, I don't want to announce to the world that I'm a clueless and overwhelmed parent. Perhaps she gets enough of our attention in the real world, I feel it's time for Tyler to get some on my blog. Maybe it's because it's so hard to get a good picture of her because she hates the camera flash in her face. (see above)

Kendyl was born a perfect baby. Beautiful round head, sparkly eyes and engaging personality. All very Gerber baby-ish. She won her first beauty pageant at 6 months. She was the girl I had waited 12 years for, and of course had the best wardrobe the moment she was born. (Hey, like I said, I waited 12 years to get a girl!) She's a cuddle-bug and loves attention and sloppy kisses.
I never knew, after having boys, what a difference having a girl was. I mean, people told me... I just blew them all off. A baby is a baby, right?
Well, then she started screaming. She screams for food, screams at the TV, at her brother and... you guessed it, for attention. The screaming went non-stop for 8 months, and still happens on a daily basis, although not so much now that she's starting to talk.
I'll tell you, there has never been a mother so grateful to hear the WORD "No." come out of her child's mouth. All the "mommommommommom." in the world is a beautiful thing in comparison.

She is such an attention hog. My mission, (should I choose to accept it) is to find stuff for her to do all day, so she leaves me alone for a second. Did I mention she hates toys? All except for what her brother is playing with right now. All she wants is me, and my face REALLY close up. That makes it really difficult to eat, and poop, and walk across the floor, and ESPECIALLY anywhere the baby-gates refuse her entry.
That's where the scream comes back in.
So, I get her back by taking pictures of her pooping (which she hides in the corner to do, I guess her bid for attention stops when it's potty time)

Look at the beads of sweat on her brow. This is, unfortunately, one of the best recent pictures I've taken of her. She REALLY hates the flash on the camera.
So, to my little whiny, demanding, attention hog who gets into everything and takes terrible pictures... here is your blog-day in the sun!

I'm a princess!

The Only Thing to Fear is Autism Itself

Have you ever been worried... like REALLY worried that something was wrong with your child?
There's so many disorders out there. There are so many things just lurking around to make life harder for your little one.
For the longest time, I've been worried that Tyler has autism. He is a sorter, an organizer, he can spend all day lining his cars up, and gets really upset when they are disturbed. He doesn't really like to be held or cuddled, and sees being talked to as an interruption. He took a long time to learn to speak and until recently, was not a big "look you in the face" type person. He knows his numbers, his alphabet, his colors and shapes... even obscure ones like trapezoid and aquamarine. His first words were the letters of the alphabet.
Feelings, actions and consequences (especially emotional ones) were beyond him, as were any abstract thought processes. He knew and loved solid, factual things (This is the number 6, or this is the color orange) and felt uncomfortable with things that weren't so solid. (Giving Mommy a flower made her happy, or does having that boo-boo make you sad?)
For the longest time, I was terrified. To tell you the truth, I've been putting off his Dr.'s appointment because the developmental testing is coming up.
And then he started speaking.
Like I said, he was a late speaker. He started saying his alphabet at 18 months to 2 years, but I almost don't count that; he didn't say much else for the longest time. Right before his 3rd birthday, he started speaking conversationally. He can express and idea, a want, or tell you what he's doing. He's even expressing and understanding feelings, in himself and others. He doesn't do sentences yet, but at the rate he's progressing, I'm no longer worried. He seems to come up with something new to say on a daily basis.
He still doesn't want to be held and loved on (unless he's sick) but it's just a boy thing, I'm told.
He cradles my face in his little hands when I'm crying (usually from taking a toy to the nose)
I attribute a lot of this to his sister. She's a gregarious, social little beast with no sense of personal boundries, and no like for toys of any kind, only the human face and human interactions. She refuses to let him sit, lost in his own little world. He loves her and hates her guts in the same breath.
I'm scared she's going to be talking better than him in a year. What do you say to people when your 2 year old is talking their ear off, and your 4 year old is still speaking in fragmented sentences?
I even took the Autism Spectrum Test, and just applied the questions to him, rather than me. (The online version is by no means a professional determination of autism) To be honest, his score was within the range, but just barely.
I'm not killing myself over this, partially because of his great social strides, partially because of what my mom says, "All kids develop at their own rate." and partially because, you know, he is who and what he is, and it's not going to make any difference in me loving him with all my heart. A diagnosis of any kind would never change any part of that.
But my heart still climbs mountains when I see him playing with other kids, or telling me not to be sad, to be happy, and trying to turn my frown into a smile (I admit, I fake cry to get this from him) When he kisses his sister or lets her help him with his cars, even though she's messing them up a little.
They say, time will tell. And time will always tell the love I have for Tyler.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Can I Release Them All into the Wild?

Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome. It was said that they were raised by wolves.

Soon, I am going to have more pictures, and yes, video to post. So just keep your panties on.
I know I say this a lot. But I am done this morning... DONE.
I realize that it was I who chose to stay up past 11 to make South Park characters out of all my friends, and that is totally my bad. How was I to know that Kendyl was going to wake up every hour and a half on the dot, needing a bottle? Which means of course, she soaked through her diaper last night, and my mom is still avoiding my request to spend the morning at her house doing laundry.
Last night, being how I convinced him to stay up with me, my husband had one more beer than he probably should have, and when I came back into the computer room, I caught him messaging some random chick on Facebook.
Now let me clear this up. I don't think my husband is having, or trying to have an affair on Facebook. However, I do believe he was sending a compliment to a woman via personal message. He's really not computer saavy enough to know the personal nature of a private message. A response to a post, saying "You're pretty" says simply that, a compliment. A personal message saying, "You're pretty." says a lot more, in my opinion. But we're talking about someone whose posts look like they were written by a 3rd grader, and who had an argument with me the other day about whether there were supposed to be spaces after commas and periods. Whatever. The message reads, "God, your hhairy, like my hommie, ellen." give or take a few oddly placed commas.
I came in and looked over his shoulder at "God, your h...." said, "Hmmm..." and then walked into the bathroom. In my mind the double "H" means he was going to write, "God, your hot." and when he got walked in on, decided to change it... hence the stuttered "H"
Out of the realm of possibility? I don't think so.
Am I really super upset? Not really. Only at the excuses. In my dealings with men, I've realized that less is more. During the conversation that followed, I simply said things like, "Okay..." and "Uh-huh" and let him dig his own hole. Men are just like children, even if they are smart, you can easily outsmart them by just being vague and making them think you're being mysterious. They expect it, you're a woman. I particularly loved that he then told me that he was responding to someone else's comment on the boards, and didn't know he was sending a private message. Uh-huh. For anyone who has Facebook, you know the process of sending a Personal message is a very deliberate one. And then he told me that the chick was 300lbs, or at least 250lbs. Uh-huh. (see how effective that simple word, "Uh-huh" is?) Then he says he's drunk and tired, and he can't believe I'm drawing him into this conversation this late at night.
I point out that all I've said is "Okay." and "Uh-huh" and he's done all the additional talking. He didn't have anything to say to that.
Like I said, I'm really not afraid that he's having, or fishing for an affair. I think it's inappropriate for a married man to be messaging women on the internet. But this is a stupid move as opposed to a deliberate move. I'm more mad at the excuses and the crappy half-assed lies. If he wasn't a little bit too drunk, he wouldn't have lied to me about it... he would have said, "I thought this girl was pretty, so I complimented her." I would have informed him that it would have been much more appropriate to do it on the open boards... and that would have been that.
By the way, THIS is the chick he messaged.
she doesn't look 300lbs and hairy to me

I'm not as mad as I seem, like I said, he's not really being sneaky, he was being dumb and drunk.
So then, after all this, Kendyl woke up every 90 minutes, wanting a bottle. One of these times, she rejected laying back down, and I thought I was going to be up with her. But thank God, she finally took the bottle and laid down.
So, just so you know I'm not using this post to just bash my husband. He usually wakes up early and takes care of the kids and lets me sleep in. Awesome, right? Well, this morning, he just timed his cigarette badly and went outside JUST as Kendyl was getting up. I laid in bed listening to her call out, waiting for Tim to go get her. I waited... and waited... and waited... and he never came. She at this point was calling pretty loudly. (I'm not going to say crying, because it's more of a yell that comes every 30 seconds or so)
So..... I get up out of bed, after having very little sleep and get her... just in time for Tim to come in the front door with Tyler, and say, "Oh, she's up?" I just shoot him a look. This is not the time for a "Here's Your Sign" joke, I think maybe even Bill Engvall would agree... it's just time for "The LOOK." Which I'm getting pretty good at by the way.
Needless to say, Tim left early for recycling this morning. I think I would too, given The Look I was shooting at everyone this morning.
And if I could get out of my mood, I would see this morning isn't really that bad. There's only limited screaming. (Although mischievousness is stepped up a notch today) Kendyl's cold has dried up, (only crusty boogers there) And they appear to be playing together rather than against each other. Why should I be so grumpy that they INSIST I stand in the living room and watch Blue's Clues with them.
I just feel mean, and it doesn't help that like all bad-mood-days, things keep going wrong. I stub my toe, kick down the baby gate while stepping over it, when I try to gorge myself on junk food (the go-to for feeling better) my chip pieces are all to small to reach the cheese salsa dip. Theres a box in my kitchen that I just KNOW has become a home for cockroaches.
Arg. I need some relief. I need a funny joke, or something.
At least they are letting me veg in front of the computer (kinda)
Maybe the kids just don't want to hang out with me when I'm like this. I know I don't.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Special Child

I have always been unique. I think there's other words, such as precocious, interesting, creative and yes, even weird... but the word that described me always was unique. (And maybe weird)
My mom made a promise to herself that she was never going to say the words, "Shut up." to any of her children. She hated the way it sounded, and always wanted to be respectful and kind to the little people she loved.
Ok, that sounds nice.
I could have used a little "shut up," however.
I was never described in negative terms by my parent's and their friends... at least not where I could ever hear. My obnoxious attributes were always referred to in endearing terms. Super. Sounds good, right? Ideal parenting, I'm sure... the way we wish we all could act toward our children.
Now let me tell you the downside.
I had to wait until my peers were mature enough to let me know how weird and annoying I was. Which means I made it to 10 or 11 before having to start checking myself for weird and annoying habits and character traits. Guess what? You're mostly made by 10 or 11, after that you just ripen.
The high self esteem I built my whole childhood, being told how special and unique and interesting I was, came crashing down in middle school... right when self esteem is sort of an important thing. Right when the decisions that can be affected by self esteem start actually mattering. Decisions that include whether or not to smoke, drink, do drugs or have sex. The endless harassment and ridicule from peers to a child who never learned to regulate her own actions was too much to bear. I emotionally detached myself from myself, other than strong bouts of self loathing, I began to see myself as a social project I was working on. My peers were nothing but subjects of scientific study. If I could fit in, if I could be cool, if I could no longer be the weirdo who stood out and was picked on... then finally I might have some value. At this point it mattered not a whit what my parents and their stupid, fake friends thought about me. Shove interesting and unique in your ass. I want to be popular, well liked, and most of all cool. Because it was ok to be disliked by you if I was more bad ass than you.
I smoked cigarettes outside school grounds, I ditched school, I lied about all the drugs I did. (I didn't try drugs until mid- high school, but according to the way I talked myself up, I'd done everything... twice!)
I never actually blame my parents. The way they tried sounds like the ideal way to raise your children, with love and acceptance for who they are, no matter what. And they had the self control to accomplish that goal. I certainly don't.
A harsh word was never uttered in my house. I still remember going to my best friend's house, and when she was scolded for something, I got so terrified that I hid in her closet.
In my child's mind, such harsh things said had to be an admittance of hatred and extreme anger.
When I grew older and came to appreciate reality for what it was, I saw my parents as inhuman. Creatures completely devoid of actual intense feelings, of sincere praise even. I did, however see them as above regular humans, but never where I could relate, or even apply life lessons they could have given me. How could I be like that, I was, after all only human. A baser creature, ruled by my emotions.
My brother has turned out completely normal, edging toward just like my parents. Now that my mom and I see things more eye to eye, and I can see her as a person, she has said something curious to me, that I am suffering from "paralyzation due to analyzation" and holy smokes! Nothing has ever spoken to me so deeply as that phrase. I over-analyze everything! But, because of this unfortunate trait, I found myself crippled by the way I was treated as a child. Even though that treatment was always positive.
A lot of this I've moved past. I now am much better at self regulation, self correction and try my damndest to see myself and my actions accurately. I'm not perfect at it... god, not by a long shot. I'm still the weird one.
I think the key is not to hide your true emotions from your kids. If they are being annoying or weird or out of control, let them know. You don't have to be a jerk about it. If they make you mad or sad with things they do or say, don't hide it. You can self- regulate, you're an adult, but let them know how you feel. The way we act does affect those around us, and that's important to learn early on. And if a loved one gets angry at us, and god forbid, shows us by yelling or scolding or making a mean face... if we've seen it before, we know they still love us.
To this day, I still find myself offended by my husband's anger. Deep down I feel, if he's willing to get this mad at me, he must not love me.
Sometimes I find I say or do inappropriate things, a glitch in my self regulation. I work on it, but it's so ingrained.
But I'll always be the weird one.
Because I'm always that little girl that someone should have told to just, "Shut the hell up!"

My Happy Place

I've been bumming lately, at least I have today. It may have something to do with Kendyl waking up at 3am this morning and staying up. 
So instead of blogging about bumming stuff, I'm going to my happy place. And that, at times, means pageants.
I love baby pageants.

By the way, this is a pageant we participated in, although Kendyl isn't in the picture.
I love the dresses, the pretty little girls, (and handsome little boys too!) I love socializing with the other pageant moms and hearing about new pageants that we haven't been to yet. 
A community not dissimilar to the mommy-blog community.
Most of all, I love spending a day concentrating and worrying about something that doesn't really matter.
If I'm totally obsessed with hair, and shoes and gems falling off the dress... and so on and so forth... I'm not stressing about bills and potty-training and proper nutrition and education... and also so on and so forth.
We get to go into princess pretend world, and only worry about princess pretend things. If everything goes wrong and the pageant is an epic fail, the worst that happens is that Kendyl doesn't win a title.
And what exactly do you do with a small child who doesn't like toys? (Seriously, she doesn't have a single favorite toy, or even one that she's particularly fond of) 
She likes her dress though, and pretty patent leather shoes, and hair things and purses and makeup and swimwear, and mostly... being on stage! Center of attention, the ideal spot for a drama-queen in training!
Our last pageant, she cried and cried and wiggled and wiggled. I couldn't figure out what was wrong, until I went to put her down. I realized what her problem was when she began dancing. I'm guessing the judges got it too, because everyone laughed and she won first alternate, even though she had spent 90% of her stage time screaming to be put down.
We connect at pageants. It's the only time she doesn't cry when getting her hair put up, or uncomfortable clothes on, or misses her nap. It's something we can do together, just mother and daughter... and gives her all the attention she wants. (For a moment at least)
Getting prepared for the pageant gives us a hobby. Matching hairpieces to the dress, finding frilly socks that aren't stretched, borrowing the perfect shoes, refitting the dress, and raising money for the event through fundraising and raffle tickets. It makes for weeks of entertainment.
And coming home and showing Daddy trophies, tiaras and sashes isn't bad either.
Many people, I find, are very anti-pageant. I think pageants are lovely. Natural is nice, but glitzy is awesome. Where else can a little girl dress up like a total fancy princess outside of home other than Halloween?
It builds confidence and self esteem. It teaches little girls that they are beautiful and classy, glamorous and lady-like... and then, they can strip off the fancy clothes, put on a cap and play baseball too. 
Theres a value in being able to do things that boys can do, and there's a value in being a girl, and being a girl is something special... something beautiful and precious. Something that a boy can't do.
When a girl sees herself as special and beautiful, she puts a value on that. And eventually, when she grows up and the boys start to take notice, she wont shortchange herself. Because if she recognizes her value, it's not going to be something she takes lightly.
Wow. That got way more serious than I wanted it to.
We haven't done a pageant in a while, I think April. I'm dying to put her in another one. I need the break, and a dress fix. And it's time for my little drama-queen to take the stage again. It would do us both some good.

Dress fix!
Kendyl's idol, the magnificent... Eden Wood!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In the Face of Toddler Meanness

My usually angelic boy is acting up today. Maybe it was the rain, and the galavanting that it led to. Maybe it was that he was woken up way too early. Maybe it was the extra chocolate he got, (Both his father and I gave him a piece, not knowing the other had already indulged him.) Maybe he's just having a bad day. 
Hey, we all have them.
So far, I've been pinched, the screen broken at the bottom and he definitely hasn't been his usual quiet self for his sister's nap. He's begging for food even though he already has some lined up neatly on his table. He's leaving his comfort object, Sleep Monkey in the other room and then begging us to find him.
He's just being raucous, which doesn't normally happen until 5pm melt down time.
I've got a little bit of patience going on today. (See Rainy Days, Hot Chocolate and Adventures With Oil Paint) But it's getting a bit much. I think he's taking my kindness for weakness.
I think I have it pretty easy. We don't have sleep problems, my kids are happy and social and well adjusted. They are active and exhausting, but that's just par for the course... and signs that I have healthy, well fed and well rested kids. I see the problems other parents face, and the exhausted way people can simply quail at the mess their life has become. My life is also a mess, but I appear to have an innate ability to accept and move past.
This blog definitely helps.
I actually don't know what the point of starting this post was, so instead of going with the whole literary; introduction, body and conclusion... I'm going to make my former English teachers groan yet again with a simple:
Hehe... take that. I am, and I'm okay with it. 

Rainy Days, Hot Chocolate and Adventures With Oil Paint

The first thing I did this morning is the exact same thing I do every morning. I checked my Twitter and my Facebook just in case someone posted something interesting while I was sleeping. (Don't want to be out of the loop for even one second... God forbid)
It just so happens, my blog-friend Catherine Connors, has reposted something about her nephew, who is currently dying of a certain kind of muscular dystrophy.
Now, I've been avoiding reading much about Tanner, it was enough to know that he's a little boy, he's dying and Catherine, AKA Her Bad Mother, is doing something called Tutus For Tanner. I left it at that. But this morning, at the post (or repost) of We Dont Need a Hero, I could no longer hold out.
As I held my son in my lap, I read the heartbreaking tale of how her nephew is slowly (or quickly) dying of a disease that in his short lifetime, there will be no cure for. That's why the title, We Don't Need a Hero... because the time for heroes and miracles have passed for this precious boy, whom in every photo I see of him, has the biggest smile you've ever seen.
I don't know if Catherine will read this post, giants don't come down from the beanstalk to muck around with dwarves, and she is bringing her self right now to have her television appearance RIGHT after her returning flight from visiting Tanner and her sister.. with NO SLEEP. And then, of course, everyone expects her to go right back to writing her blog. So I really don't expect she'll see this. But I thank her, I thank her so much for this morning I'm having right now.
Her requests were to help raise money, so this little boy could have his final wish of dying at home. If you couldn't donate money, (which I can't) she asked for donated time... well, she lives in Toronto, so that's out. If you couldn't donate time or money, she asked that you be grateful for your kids.
I hugged Tyler close to me, of course that made him wiggle to get down, but it set my mind for my day. I was so touched and of course I was crying. I'm just so glad I read this this morning.

Because then Kendyl got behind the chair again and into my box of stuff. It's a habit she loves to do that invariably pisses me off.
Well, she dug a bit deeper this morning, down where my paint is. For those of you who aren't artists, and familiar with paint... there's water-based and oil based paints, water-based washes off easily with soap and water, and oil-based needs paint thinner or turpentine (which I have none of, being how it's been years since I've used oil paints)
Guess which tube she bit the end off?
I was only gone for a second. And I'm really glad I caught her when I did, it could have been much worse. Needless to say, we got a bath first thing this morning. I still have a green baby and now I have a green chair and a green bathtub. I'm waiting for my brother to show up with the paint thinner.
Normally, this incident would be the catalyst for the beginning of a terrible day, filled with yelling and tantrums. (From all of us) But, remember, I had a Tutus for Tanner morning. I dealt with the problem the best I could with soap and water and we moved on.
About a half an hour later, it started to rain... like really pour. We live in Palm Springs, so this happens, maybe twice a year... if we're having a wet year. The kids stood, transfixed at the window, still warm and pink from the bath.
I made my decision, we had to move fast, desert storms disappear quickly. I got the kids dressed up warm, (because you know, it's gotta be less than 80 degrees out there) and out we went.
We spent maybe 45 minutes out enjoying the rain and the puddles. When they started shivering, I coaxed them inside with promises of hot chocolate.
She drank from his sippy cup so he drank from her bottle, thats just how it happens. I let them, although it was funny to see my big 3 year old with a bottle.
I got to have this wonderful morning with two kids who woke up early, who are a little cranky and a lot impetuous. All because I was reminded by a little boy who is dying, and a caring aunt whose heart is breaking... to be grateful for every moment I have.
Because even the paint covered ones are a miracle.
Thanks Catherine... and thanks Tanner.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Day at the Park with a Bacon Eating Vegan

(Pictures to come)
This morning I walked to the park with my kids. As many of you know, I have no vehicle, and the walk took 30 minutes in a nice humid 95 degree morning. For Palm Springs, that's really nice. But I am blonde, and the sun doesn't do nice things to my head. So here I sit, waiting for the Advil to kick in... but holy God in heaven, was it worth it!
I met Elise there, with two of her 3 kids and her nephew in tow. We sat on a bench at this relatively new area of the park designated for small kids whose parents are terrified they will fall off the larger equipment. It was a cool little fenced in area with small, but not lame, playground equipment. And we both felt totally comfortable just sitting on the bench and letting the kids play while we pretended to be adults for a minute.
We talked about the kids for a good portion of the time, comparing notes and sharing advice is one of the most helpful things in getting together with other parents. It makes you not so terrified that your children are retarded in some way when you hear that other kids are also quick in some things and slow in others. For example, her 2 year old nephew speaks almost better than my 3 year old, but he can't walk more than 10 feet before having to catch his balance. We both figure it's because her sister carries him everywhere.
I was reassured that Tyler's slow speech and non-social behavior was very similar to the way her 5 year old daughter acted, and she's perfectly normal. I guess some kids would rather be left alone to play with toys rather than be showered with attention. I'm no longer really worried, he's got good eye contact, his vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds, he comes to me for affection and comfort. He plays and socializes with other kids, and he's getting better at sharing and working together with others.
Although I notice that after days like today, he turns inward, like he's done with being social for today. 

We were both really craving adult conversation. The kind that doesn't involve diapers and sleeping habits. That didn't happen until the ride home (Thank goodness she gave me a ride, the walk back would have killed me) Subjects turned to blogs, she has two. (Now THERE'S an idea) and one of them is a vegan blog. 
"You're vegan?" I ask, not knowing this tasty tidbit about my best friend of 30 years just kills me. 
"Well, not really," she replies. She goes on to explain that the vegan community doesn't accept you as a vegan unless you don't eat anything that has ever even seen an egg or milk product. Not cookies, crackers, bread products... whatever. But otherwise, yeah, she's pretty much a vegan.
I then go on to sheepishly say that maybe I shouldn't mention I had a New York strip and shrimp jambalaya last night, and my daughter's favorite food is bacon. She shrugged and said she eats bacon every once in a while. That made me snicker. My friend, the bacon eating vegan. I love that so much, I'm going to add it to my blog title.
There. Done.
That topic carried us on to why. Why my friend, are you a (bacon eating) vegan? Health reasons? Animal rights?
"A little bit of both." She tells me to watch Food Inc. (I think?) Which details the raising and preparation of food in the industry. 
Now this is where she and I differ. She's a little bit (a lotta bit) squeamish about slaughtering animals, even when it's done within the realms of sanity, safety and humane-ness. (Not a word... what ever) And although I am totally appalled when people take liberties against the animals that are our food, and think they have the right to be cruel, either for cruelty's sake or in the name of efficiency... I see it as, that's what we do, it's what we always have done. Animals are here for us to eat them, and the only thing wrong (besides cruelty against those animals) is that we are kept so seperate from our food source. We look at our nicely packages hamburgers and steaks, and can forget that it used to be a living, breathing creature.
I have no problem killing and cleaning an animal to eat. I've done it, it gives you a new appreciation for the things you put in your mouth. I wanted to raise rabbits a while back for supplementary food, and my husband said I couldn't name them. I told him truthfully, that wouldn't matter to me. If I thought he would taste good, I could possibly give him a try too.
She said she hoped when society collapses, she wants me on her side. I told her it would probably be a good idea.
I'm so glad that, even though we've turned out so fundimentally different, our decades long friendship is totally enough to bridge those gaps. And EASILY too, absolutely without effort. When this happens it's a beautiful thing.. constantly talking to people with the exact same views all the time is boring.
I'm really looking forward to next week's play date.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Church Day

Disclaimer: I am Mormon, as in a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. But I'm also a terrible Mormon (although trying to be better) Please don't hold me up as an example of what a Mormon is supposed to be. Because I am definitely not.
Now that I've said that, lets get back to my blog.
Today was a church day. With all the crap I put up with trying to keep my kids quiet in the "church" part of church (as opposed to Sunday School) you would think I would spend all week dreading when Sunday finally rolls around.
This, however, is not the case. I love going to church.
Since moving back to Palm Springs, I'm now back in my home ward. The congregation that I grew up in. Everyone is delighted to see me, and loves to see my kids. I think they just love to see me in church after so many years of running away from it.
I love to sing, I learned to sing on church songs, and they are what I sing best. Best of all, I can sing without Tyler yelling, "Mommy, no SING!"
And they gave me a calling. (A position in the church) I am the Assistant Nursery Leader. I help in the nursery and give lessons to the children between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. My dad and the bishop know who I am, and what my issues are, and they still invited me to this calling. And I think I'm doing pretty well at it. The nursery leader does too, apparently. But she's Elise's big sister, so she might be biased.
The kids did pretty well today, I had to take Kendyl out, but we made it to just 10 minutes before the end before this happened. Score.
For the rest of the week, these kids will be better behaved and kinder to each other than if we had not taken the trouble to go.
We haven't gone for 2 weeks in a row. Last week they were sick, and before that was stake conference. (Which means that church was held in a larger building too far away for us to get to.) So we've had 3 straight weeks with no Sunday break, and I think they really look forward to one day a week being different than the other 6.
I can't even begin to express how grateful I am to have this bright spot in our lives.
If you don't go to church, I suggest it. Don't believe? Who cares? It's such a beneficial distraction to your life. Is there any part of going to church that could be a negative thing in any way? Regardless of what you do or don't believe?
The kids learn to sit still and listen, if even for a short time. You get to socialize with other adults for a change. No one looks down on you for going to church, it can actually raise people's opinion of you. (Makes 'em think you're responsible) It teaches the kids good things; to be kind, sharing and living your life in a good way.
I dunno. I'm not preaching, I'm just saying what works for me and my family.
Since we've been going to church, we've lived a better, more productive, more harmonious life.
And I'm the more happy for it.
Oh, and I just NEEDED to add the Mormon barbie. Note: never go looking for Mormon images via Google search. Just an all over BAD IDEA. Unless you're launching an anti-Mormon campaign of weird Google images. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vivos Underground Survival Shelter Network for 2012 and Beyond

Vivos Underground Survival Shelter Network for 2012 and Beyond

I've always dreamed of needing a underground survival bunker for the end of the world.
Let's do this thing.

Ode to my Friends

Real life friends are hard to come by. Especially when you smell vaguely of  mac n' cheese and the most interesting conversation topics you can come up with all have to do with your kids.

These are my two best friends. Elise, the blonde, has been my friend since we were both in diapers. Melissa, the brunette/redhead/whatever she has chosen this week, has been my friend for over a decade.
When everyone else in the universe has either forgotten that I exist (or is trying to) these two are always there for me.

Now, just going in alphabetical order folks, don't be pushy. Elise, even though she's pushing to be a member of Quiverful, always finds a way to be by my side when I need her. I called her the other day, desperate for a ride to WIC. She immediately piled her entire brood into the SUV and came to pick me up. When everyone else has been blowing me off for this Tyler birthday thing, she assured me that she would be there. Even offered to bring the whole gang to the park, just so the kids could play together. Maybe she just knows my pale-ass kids need to get some sunshine... but still.
She puts up with my sense of humor, and actually finds me funny... even when everyone else finds me crude and classless.
Melissa, she has always totally gone the distance for me, and even on not-so-rare occasion, will drive something like 80 miles out of her way to see me. Even when she knows that just means sitting in my living room, making it hard for my husband to watch TV. Or sitting outside my front door making ourselves sick on cigarettes.
She also likes my sense of humor, but thats more because hers is very similar.
Our relationship was born when we were both going through a very hard time in our lives, and we have always found each other as a constant source of comfort. A shoulder to cry on, and someone to appreciate sarcastic jokes about whatever ails us.
We find excuses a lot to hang out.
Friends, I think are important. There's a phrase, "Friends are the family you choose for yourself."
I love you guys, here's to you!

Runaway Mom

Can I get a restraining order against all these people in my house? Large and small?
I've been assaulted and would like to lodge a formal complaint.
I woke up to swearing this morning. And you know, if we are swearing at 7 o' clock in the morning... it's going to be a bad day. Turns out, Tyler had lobbed a toy at Dad's full coffee cup, and he, (Tim not Tyler) ended up wearing hot coffee well before breakfast. Which as you know, is a fashion faux pas.
Speaking of fashion mistakes, as many of you know, before 10am, all you're going to see me in is a long T-shirt and underwear. (Unless I have a WIC appointment) Well, it's laundry time, which means I'm wearing old, ill fitting underwear. Today, a pair I bought years before having children, a pair with a picture of Cookie Monster blasted across the front. (Not the pair in the picture, but close) The only worse wardrobe choice would have been a bra with Blue's Clues on it. I've spent all morning fending off small children like the only girl at a frat party.
My solution, break my own rule and put on a pair of pants and try to distract their attention with popcorn shrimp. Nothing like a little crispety crunchety goodness to make the mob forget about my underwear.
I figure if it works for the husband, it'll work for the kids.
Well, it worked... but with mouthfuls of crustatean, they were off to the next adventure. 
Tyler climbs atop the DVD player in his room to get the night light, and then sips and spits the contents of his sippy cup onto his sister. This is a tactic I've seen used by kids I used to babysit. If you get rid of all the water, maybe the next cupful will be juice. I thought this was an ingenious move by the kid the first time I saw it, until I realized it was a widely used practice. Inplicable logic, annoying, to be sure, but smart.
I wonder if he's using that intelligence to home brew moonshine in his room when his sister can't seem to walk across a stable, flat surface without bonking into something or falling down this morning. Doubly concerning when this morning seems to be chosen for the Great Baby Race of 2010.
Tim left for recycling already. I think he decided the atmosphere in the house was too much to handle. That is SO okay with me, who wants to deal with two toddlers who've gone completely insane AND a husband who wont stop sighing and groaning.
Remember when we were teenagers, and the solution to a situation that was too frustrating to handle was to just run away from home? Nothing a couple nights of sleeping rough and making your parents worry wont fix. Can we do that now? I think the whole gang might find a new appreciation for me if they had to do everything their damn selves for a few days. Arg.
And what EXACTLY is he doing to her to make her scream like that? It reminds me of the old "I'm not touching you!" bullshit that my brother used to do to me. He'll get right in his sister's face and say, "Bugagagaga!" and the response in a shriek so loud and high pitched, it nearly peels the paint off the walls.
She's pooping right now, so I have to leave her alone. But it's funny to watch her go hide in a secluded corner as her eyes redden and get all watery. 
I ask Tyler lightheartedly, "Is Sissy pooping?" and he yells, "NO SISSY POOP!" and throws something at her. So he gets a warning, (I'm the queen of warnings) and I go to try to calm her down. We make pony noises with her My Little Ponies for a moment, and then she grabs a Little People camel. "I don't know what kind of noise a camel makes, honey." I admit sheepishly. Apparently, this is a fatal flaw in my parenting which is answered by more screaming and punctuated by trying to destroy the vertical blinds for emphasis. When these efforts to express her true feelings for my inability to create camel noises fail, she tries wholeheartedly to pull off her pants and diaper, as if peeing on the carpet will be her ultimate statement of how incompetent of a mother I really am.

And, of course, this whole time she's throwing this hissy fit, Tyler's acting up, trying to draw my attention away from the screaming, flailing, attempting to strip her clothes off baby.
At this point I really need the Dr. Pepper my husband bought for me yesterday. I escape to the kitchen to finish off the half empty bottle of caffinated goodness. Well, the kids, who have seen a soft drink maybe a total of twice in the entirety of their short little lives, start chanting "Soda!, SODA! SODA!" I try to chug it down before they pressure me into giving them some, (which they SO OBVIOUSLY don't need) but I'm not a big soda drinker, and the carbonation nearly makes my eyeballs explode.

I guess it's just one of those days, where the kids need to remind me who's really in charge here.

What noise does a camel make anyways?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Diaper Jello

You know, there are many things none of us knew about until we had kids of our own. The least of these is definitely diaper jello.
I usually, well always, hate full diapers on my kids. It makes me feel like a bad mom. But you know, if conjuring up dozens of disapproving eyes keeps me in check, I welcome my neurosis.
But today was an exciting day. It's Thursday, which means, MamaKat's Writers workshop day. I go and I read everyone's blog and comment. Because, well, the Golden Rule! I want everyone to read mine!
Well, today was extra exciting. MamaKats, my total idol (don't tell her, she might get scared) picked MY writing prompt! Yes, MINE. And I wanted to read everyone's take on my subject; Why My Mom is Not Invited to Read My Blog.
So, Kendyl's whole nap, I've been... err... occupied. Tyler wants juice? Sure, here you go, kid. Thanks for being so good.
I think I've exited mom-blog world for nothing but juice refills, cracker hand-outs and DVRed Blue's Clues restarting. And..... my bottle of OceanSpray veggie/fruit juice is half empty. It was full this morning, and it's a 64oz bottle.
Then I noticed the trail. Little white crumbs of... you guessed it... diaper Jello.
If you don't know what this is, you are luckier than I. It's mostly experienced in the summer time, when you don't have any Little Swimmers and you've taken the kids in the pool. I guess it's also normal when your kid has had 32oz of juice (1/2 and 1/2... so a full 64oz of liquid) in the 3 hours that his little sister has been napping, and he has been left to be raised by wolves. (Or at least Steve and his puppy, Blue)
This stuff is notoriously hard to pick up, difficult even to vacuum. It's moist, because it's the absorbant stuff that fills the diaper. The same stuff is inside maxi-pads.
I felt like the world's worst parent.
I changed the diaper first, and then walked through the house, picking up as many of the little pieces as I could grab through the carpet fibers.
The worst of it was all in my husband's favorite TV chair. I got it clean enough that maybe he wont notice. I'm not sure if he'd know what it was. But still.
I think the world worst mom award might look something like this:

But then at least the mom in the picture is changing her child's frickin' diaper.
Oh, and of course, what do I do after the crisis is over? I go back to the computer and blog about it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Misadventures in Babysitting

I'll bet you're wondering what kind of weirdo would have wanted me to babysit their kids when I was a teenager. You've all heard a bit of how I was like as a teenager. My answer to that is, people who were out of options!
I was never the first called. Like I've said before, I grew up Mormon. In the close knit Mormon community, there are usually plenty of teenagers willing to watch people's kids, but sometimes, like church dance night, there just aren't. And I was the kid who was most likely to find your hidden porn collection. (Yes, every once in a while, Mormons might have a hidden porn collection. It's not looked highly upon, but if you're happily married no one really gives much of a *darn*--remember: Mormon)
Now, while most girls were playing with dolls, and dreaming about being moms wearing aprons and high heels whilst vacuuming, I was making my GI Joes have what I thought might be sex with my My Little Ponies. So you could say I was a little less than a maternal type teenager.
Now, putting kids to bed, I now realize, is hard for even seasoned adults to accomplish. Why in the world would you entrust such a duty to a 14 year old girl? A 14 year old girl with such a "creative" take on life, for that matter. If I ever leave my kids with a teenager, I think it's going to be a late night movie and pizza session. I'm having a night off, why can't they?
Anyways, so after asking, then telling, then cajoling and reasoning and everything my 14 year old brain could think up.... I um... then told this little 3-4 year old girl that after 10 o' clock at night, nasty monsters came out and ate all the little kids who weren't sleeping. I then turned out the light and left the room.
Needless to say, I wasn't invited to babysit for them anymore. Actually, I think I didn't babysit again until I was a parent myself.
I don't remember if word got around, or I was just so embarrassed (I was actually questioned about what I had told her) that I stopped babysitting. It all amounts to the same.
Oh, and don't tell your kids that monsters will eat them if they don't go to sleep by a certain time... it doesn't work.

Why I'm not Inviting My Mother To Read My Blog

I love my mother. I want to be my mother. I envy her and want her to be my friend. I'm just not sure she wants to be my friend.
Yes, this is really a picture of my parents. I'm willing to steal most of my blog pics from the internet, but I'm not willing to steal other people's parents. Although they look rather generic, don't they?
I'm honest to you people. I'm open and descriptive about my thoughts and feelings and worries and failures... and yes, my every once in a while success. I have a like it or lump it attitude, but see, I can do that with you. Most of you are strangers, who gives a damn what you think about me. The ones who actually know me apart from this blog, you may or may not know, I hand picked you for loving me for who I am and not judging me for it. Feel good about your damn selves? Good, now back to my mother.
I think my mom hates me. I know my mom loves me, but love isn't really the opposite of hate. I don't think you can truly hate someone unless you love them.
I just don't think that she's ever forgiven me for my teenagehood (or early 20s) and I don't really blame her. I don't really forgive me.
So how do I react? I try to be as outwardly perfect as I can be. Lame? Yes. Mentally unhealthy? Probably. Normal reaction? I really don't know. I might be totally off my rocker, no one tells me these things.
My mom has a hard time letting things go. I think one day she just decided it was too hard to be so emotionally invested in me, and just quit. And now that I've come back to the fold, did the whole prodigal daughter deal, who can blame the woman for being skeptical?
So, because I bare my worries and inadequecies here... my difficulty quitting smoking, (she thought I quit 3 years ago,) my like for the relaxation a glass of wine does for me (a sin) My questions and musings of wether I'm raising these kids right or not. I cannot let my mother in on this part of my life.
And it hurts me. Really it does. I talk a big game. I've been known to say, "I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not." And it rings true on every aspect of my life, except for this one.
You know, up until 4 months ago, I lived 30 miles away from the house I grew up in, the house my parents still live in. Now I live less than a mile away. My mom has been to my apartment a handful of times, mostly to pick me up for church, and has been inside twice. If you look on her Facebook (no, I'm not giving you my mom's Facebook) there are dozens and dozens of pictures of her holding my nieces, my niece's birthday cake, vacations taken with my brother and his wife. She babysits for them, has toys at her house that are already the girls' favorites, and applauds all the nifty, crafty things my sister-in-law is up to. (Which we all do, the girl is amazing, and her kids are awesome little pixies) But there are 3 pictures from when my daughter was born 18 months ago.... and thats it.
So, I put on a perfect front, hoping to win her over. Who can blame me? Maybe it's not normal or healthy, and I'm not very good at it. I can't exactly hide the fact I'm on welfare and don't have a car and live in subsidized housing... there's always that. I keep thinking, if I get my drivers license, and do this college thing, or start making good money, or stop asking her for rides or a can of tuna for dinner... she'll like me again. But, I don't know. All I know is she can't know about my smoking, or my glass of merlot, or the 5 hours of TV my kids watch a day. Then she'd know for sure how fucked up I am.
So, she can't read this blog. I wish she could, and not judge me for it. She always says I'm so smart, even if she says it in that tone that really says I've wasted my life. I think it would be something she'd be proud of me for.
Well, Mom, you'll never read this, but maybe I can send this vibe your way. I love you, I wish you loved me like that. Not just despite who I am, but because of it. I wish I was perfect like you are, but I'm not. I'm damaged and worldly and have a shitty sense of humor and get tired of my kids sometimes and just can't seem to get a grip on this smoking thing... but I try my best, just like you always told me to. Maybe someday we'll read this together, and you'll say, "Oh, Breann." like you always do, and things will be just fine between us.
But until then, this blog is like my room when I was 16, and you're just not allowed in.

Food, Glorious Food!

I am actually not certain what the definition of "foodie" is. All I know is I love good food. I love to make it, I love to eat it, and I actually don't see how this could be a category of people. We all gotta eat, right? And if we care enough about eating tasty stuff as opposed to so-so or whatever meals... we learn to cook.
Now, I know there are people out there that don't know how to cook. My husband's ex-wife apparently could mess up a box of mac n' cheese. This just confuses the heck out of me. You gotta eat, right? What? Someone cared enough to make every morsel of anything you've ever put in your mouth, your whole life?
The moment I could look over the countertop, my mom said, "Here, make yourself some scrambled eggs."
My husband knows how to cook. As much as I would like to make the man completely dependent on me, he cooks well enough that we usually have good natured competition with who makes the best food. And his omelettes are to die for.
Now, I like to cook good, hearty, homestyle meals. If someone asked me to make a cucumber foam with pomegranate reduction over veal knuckle, I'd be lost. But I watch Chopped on Food Network and think, "I could SO do this."
I often feel sorry for the children and husbands who live off of TV dinners and Pizza Hut. Don't get me wrong, my hubby and I had Marie Callender's last night, but that was the first time in about 2 months.
I love to cook. I love making something exquisite out of raw materials, I love silence at the dinner table punctuated by chewing. I love eating something I know everyone finds delicious... that I made. It's my vanity.
My husband took a picture of my meatloaf the night before last. He said, "What the heck, everyone's doing it." As soon as I get my memory cards over to my mom's house and upload them, I'll post MY picture, instead of the one I stole off of a recipe site.
Tonight I'm making something simple, beef dip au jus sandwiches. Real easy and really delicious. 
Then after I stuff myself to bursting, I'll wonder why I can't lose that 15 (who am I kidding... 25) extra pounds of "baby weight."
Do you like to cook? What are some of your favorite recipes? Are you one of those weirdos who DON'T cook? Tell me where you are coming from, I just don't understand. I'm going to finish off the last of the jalapeno poppers while I read your responses.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Love-Hate Relationship With Children's Programming

Am I the only parent who simultanously love these guys and want to gouge out my eyes at the sound of their themesong? 
Like my mid-90s computer, I am grateful to the existence of children's programming. How else would I be able to spend my 18 month old's entire nap entertaining you guys with my misadventures, unless my 3 year old was watching mind-numbing programming and asking for frozen bananas at every paragraph?
But also, like my mid-90s computer, I am annoyed to the max by these shows. Very slow, makes high pitched noises, and the plot is severely lacking. See? I'm not even sure right now if I'm talking about the shows or my computer.
Yet, if I'm sitting on the couch, reading, instead of back here hiding on the computer, I notice my attention sliding up from The Valley of the Horses to stare, blank-eyed at what the gang on Yo Gabba Gabba is doing today. The bright colors and catchy tunes hypnotize me as I bend back over my book just to read the same paragraph for the third time. Damn them, no wonder the kids can stare at that screen so slack jawed that I wonder if the bright lights and colors have caused them to have a seizure.
Of course, they both know the alphabet, numbers to 50, shapes and colors so advanced to include trapezoid  and chartruse. (I'm so not exaggerating, thank you Blue's Clues.) They have been introduced to sharing, working together as a team, and eating a variety of healthy foods. All these things, aside from sharing and eating healthy foods, I thought were too advanced for toddlers until they started spitting them out... so unfortunately I cannot take credit. I think until recently I forgot what a trapezoid looked like.
My husband likes to point out that my son knows right from left more readily than I do. Thanks for the support, asshole.
I often feel bad for the amount of TV my kids watch, there seems to be little else to do with them. Crafts are a bit much for the age group, Kendyl has to be watched like a hawk at any playground, structured play is rejected wholeheartedly. I can at least say, a good 75% of the time, I watch with them and sing the songs and show them the concepts that are introduced on the shows.
But the studies don't mention any of that jazz, they don't say 5 hours of TV is alright as long as you are down doing the somersaults, and pointing out the blue bird and reciting the alphabet right along with them.
I go to bed at night thinking I'm doing wrong by these kids, but what else is there to do with two toddlers in an apartment? At least it's all educational at this point. 
We'll worry about  how much my son looks like Flapjack later.

I really do invite comments on this post. How much TV is too much? How much TV do your kids watch, or how much did they watch? (I don't think your teenager's iCarly consumption is relevant, or shit, maybe it is)
Am I a terrible parent? Don't lie, one way or the other. This isn't the place to tell me I suck because your kids watch 10 minutes of CNN a day and then work on their multiplication tables for the rest of the evening because you're so much better of a parent than I am. UNLESS they really do, and then kudos, you ARE a better parent than I am. What do you want? A frickin cookie?
So how dangerous IS children's programming?

Siblings, not just for foot rests!

I have a little brother. He's not so little anymore, at 6ft, and 250lbs about, married with his own 2 kids. I'm really impressed that he survived. Or that either of us did. It gives me hope for my two munchkins.
Throughout the years, we put beatings on each other that you wouldn't believe. Or maybe you would, if you have siblings.
I once stabbed him in the eye with a McDonald's straw, he had a blood red half-moon in his eye for about a month. He once slammed my fingers in the car door and then locked it, preventing my escape. He got stitches on an easter morning, following a rock fight involving me and all our cousins. He likes to point out that we had the advantage of starting at the top of the hill, I think it's just more evidence of me being at the top of the food chain.
And here, in my very own home, it begins once more.

I thought things would be different. In my family, Tyler is the older brother, and Kendyl is by no means a tomboy. I try to impress upon them that Tyler's job as the big brother is to protect and care for his baby sister. To tolerate and spoil her. Apparently, in 3 year old, that means to torture, push her around and make her scream. In his defense, her favorite activity is to be as annoying to him as humanly possible.
When I was a child, I clearly remember seeing my brother as a total usurper of my childhood. All the good stuff went to him, he got away with murder, he was an idiot who messed with my stuff and didn't know how to wipe the snot off of his face. And all that held true throughout our teenagehood.... except for the snot, mostly.
To be fair, I think he saw me as a bully, who told him what to do at every turn and tattled at the least infraction. But he got up extra early to eat the last of the sugar cereal in a giant mixing bowl so I couldn't have any, so he got what he deserved. Plus, all that sugar cereal made him fat, so that's a bonus.
As adults, I now love and appreciate my brother. We still pick on each other, in a more subtle and adult sibling way, but we can be friends now. Probably because he doesn't come over and eat all the sugar cereal, although, last time I did laundry at my parent's house, he had gotten to the chocolate grasshoppers first... bastard.
Well, my brother's and my relationship now gives me hope for my children, although if I have to put up with 18 years of rock-throwing and eye-stabbing I might lose my mind.
Right now, my whole day is taken up with breaking up pushing, hitting, grabbing, screaming, pinching, fingers in drawers, fighting over things that aren't supposed to be played with anyways, interfering with each other in creative ways like messing up neat lines of cars, aquisitioning both sippy cups, getting too close to each other's faces and the occasional rear naked choke hold.
They are 20 months apart. I'm now thinking I was totally insane for getting myself into this mess to begin with. When he was little (God, what a dumb phrase to describe a 3 year old) he was so easy, I thought, double the trouble? I can handle that!

No one told me the trouble doesn't double, it cubes. Trouble to the second power. Because not only do I deal with him and then her, I now deal with him, her, him dealing with her, her dealing with him and the trouble both of them can get into when they decide to gang up on me. Seems to me that this is valuable information that SOMEONE might have mentioned before I got into this mess.
But I get stuck with the only Italian mother on the face of the earth who doesn't give uninvited advice. Anyone who has one of these nosy mothers or mother-in-laws, be grateful! Alot of good information comes from these people. I understand that it might be annoying, mom all up in your grill and all that jazz. But at least you don't have to pry advice or life lessons from these women like prying barnacles off a boat.
The way these kids just automatically deal with each other astounds me. It would be one thing if they just hated each other. Yeah, bum deal, but at least I would know what always to expect. But they like to throw me a curveball every once in a while. For instance, I can not give Tyler snacks without him dividing up his spoils and giving half to his sister, or at least pointing out that she needs her share. And, sometimes, instead of destroying carefully lined up rows of Hot Wheels like a diaper clad Godzilla attacking Tokyo, I've caught her collecting all the cars strewn around the room and bringing them to him to line up... and him ACCEPTING them, gracefully, even when her uncontrolled running back and forth upsets his orderly rows.

And something that I'm wary of, because I can just see someone taking a header into the dresser... the nightly ritual of running back and forth across the house screaming laughter together. I'm loathe to break it up because it makes them both so happy. Eventually it will end in tears, but for right now, they are playing happily together. Who am I to stop it?
I think I realize, that, just as my parents had very little to do with the relationship between my brother and I. I have very little say in the relationship building between my two little ones. It's kinda their thing, and although I can help minimize the bloodshed by playing referee, or can give problem solving advice to help them play more cooperatively, the relationship is theirs, and will always be theirs, not mine.
This post seems a little open-ended, and my past English teachers would be rolling in their tenures (not graves, dummy, I'm not that old) if they read my story lacking a conclusion... but like I said, this is my kids' story to complete, not my own. Hopefully it turns out well.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Just Who is This Crazy Chick?

I think I just realized, in looking through all my posts... I haven't really introduced myself. I mean, yeah, you know I'm married with two crazy but adorable children. I've even aired out my mother issues and self critisism to you guys. But, who am I? A couple of you know me personally, but not by any means all.
Well, my name is Bre, short for Breann. I was born in San Diego, CA, and I'm adopted. I've lived my whole life in Palm Springs, CA, where my dad is a small business owner. It's a florist, family run, open for 60 something years.
My parents are Mormon, and lately (since having these kids) I've been trying to be too. I was raised in a strange cross between Mormon/Republican beliefs and hippie, women's lib, live and let live type. One may think this is a strange combo, but my parents and extended family are the closest to actually being Jesus Christ as anyone I've ever met in all my life.
I think they're awesome, and they are... but it adds to one hell of an inferiority complex. Especially since my brother is doing such a decent job in becoming my dad.
I blame it on nature vs. nurture. I'm genetically the bastard child of teenage surfers. Five generations of Southern Californians, and more generations upon that of Astrologers, medicine women and witches. I'm the halfling stolen from the cradle to be raised by nice, calm, normal people.
I was a constant runaway, and ran away for good at 17. I was wild, rebellious and artistic, lumped in the same category as my late uncle, who ran away in a different way. He returned years later to the unconditional love of his family, and died of complications due to the AIDS virus.
I wouldn't wish my teenagehood on any parent, and have tried to spend the last several years making it up to my parents, although not very well. Old hurts die hard.
I'm on my second marriage, my first? Lets not delve any further into that except to say, I was 18 and "playing house."
After my marriage broke up, and my older son, Matrim went to live with my parents, (where he still is today) I didn't have anywhere to go. So out into the wilderness I went, and spent about 5 years calling the streets of Palm Springs my home. That sounds rather lame, but I'll tell you, no matter where you are homeless, it's a difficult life.
I met my current husband... you know... out there. My parents bought us a van, and we spent a little while doing the hippie, living-in-a-van thing. We figured out rather quickly how to make the best of things, and moved into Motel 6. With a shower and a wake-up call now a regular occurence, Tim quickly got a job working for a dry cleaners. He got me a job at the same place and we moved into an apartment, actually a mother-in-law quarters attached to a house. (Totally overpriced, $950 a month for a studio) And we both immediately got laid off from our jobs. (The dry cleaner in question has now shut down all but the most basic of services, and all but one of their shops)
Luckily, the economy was still not shitty like it is right now, and both of us found good jobs almost instantly. He got a job working for a pool company, and me for a convenience store. (And then a vet clinic... coolest job ever)
After I got pregnant, we decided he was making enough for me to quit once the baby was born. We moved to a 3 bedroom house and his pay was just peachy for what we had and needed.
Six months later, he lost his job. The pool company was no longer building pools, the economy was failing and nobody wanted a new pool in a recession.
(BTW, I'm writing this bit by bit while checking on two sick and whiny kids, so forgive if it seems a bit piecemeal. )
Six months later, surprise! I'm pregnant again. And the rest is mostly history, although two years have passed since that point. I'm sure you can picture the logical progression of us running out of unemployment and having to resort to state-aid and subsidized housing, losing our 3 bedroom home.
We're alright though. The kids are smart and healthy, I'm planning on going to school for nursing, Tim keeps himself busy recycling cans (he was tickled when I referred to it as being in Enviromental Sciences, focusing on recycled materials, see
My interests are reading, being sarcastic, and asking my kids to leave me alone for just one second, please.
Oh, and blogging. And now I've run out of stuff to say about myself.
Oh and if anyone knows how to make thumbnails appear in my LinkWithin, please write me.