Thursday, January 31, 2013

Three's Insanity

When we were embarking on the Big Event of Having Three Children (can you tell I read a lot of A.A. Milne?) people warned us, "Watch out! Three is CRAZY!" and I believed them and I worried a little bit. But then the little bundle of joy who is our Elkaberry came into our lives and we spent one of the best summers we've ever had in full adoration of her and each day that passed by seemed to be one of relaxation, contentment, and for lack of a better word, "bliss."
It really was that great. Partly because it was summer (and even an extraordinary summer where it almost never rained!) and partly because Elka was Wonder Baby who slept well, ate well, and wasn't much bothered by anything. It was definitely a great summer and I thought to myself, "what were those people thinking? Three is not crazy! Three is perfect! Three is (omg why did I even think this) EASY!"
Riiiiiight. "Easy," I said.
The reality of the situation is that three is INSANITY. Two preschoolers and a newborn was easy. Easy beyond belief. But two preschoolers and The Baby Who Will Conquer the World?!? It's crazy. It's impossible. It is..... I don't even have words. It's just crazy!!!!
Let me tell you a little bit about Elka and her latest antics. Elka began the early stages of crawling, you might remember, at 4 1/2 months. She was fully mobile by 5 months, able to get to whatever it was she wanted. Now Elka is 7 months old and she is practicing standing up on her own. She's not really very good at it, but she WANTS to be and she spends most of her time trying to climb things. She can pull to a stand using anything. To make things more exciting, she puts anything she finds in her mouth. Buttons. Beans. String. Dog hair. Blueberry muffin crumbs. SHE EATS EVERYTHING. And she's really, really fast. So I can take something out of her mouth, walk (more like jog) to the next room to throw it away, come back and she's got something else in her mouth. She broke two teapots on two different occasions in one day. She got up to one of our lower tables and somehow got the box of watercolor paints and was mouthing the whole container. Nothing on the floor is safe and there's no way, with two older ones, to keep everything off the floor at all times. It's just impossible.
So, basically, it's not safe to leave Elka unattended for any period of time. Sometimes I can gain a few minutes of washing dishes by closing the doors to the bathroom and playroom and she can crawl up and down the little hallway by the kitchen for awhile. But my laundry room is not fit for children, so I'm pretty behind on that chore. It doesn't help that she's kind of stopped napping. Today her total naps barely added up to more than an hour.
So, today, when I put the milk jug away in the pantry instead of  refrigerator, I thought, "I'm not surprised. They were right. Three is crazy. It's time to make a blog post."
In other news, Anja got a camera for her birthday in November and we just got the cord to put all of her photos on the computer. This is one of them:

This was one of the first ones. She's a pretty good little photographer, but since her birthday she's taken 487 photos, so I didn't really have time to go through them and find the best ones. Some of them are more "artistic" (she's got a whole bunch of one lamp she thinks is really beautiful) but she's taken a lot of really good ones of Elka. And she has since learned to keep her fingers out of the way, lol.

Oh, and as you can see, I am magically able to post pictures again!

I had mentioned on here the possibility of us buying a particular house. That deal fell through. Without going into great detail, there was more wrong with the place than we could afford. It was sad to let it go, but in the end, there were so many problems that it became utterly undoable. (I thought that was a word, but it's spell checking me with no suggestions.) What looked like a gem was actually a money pit. It was a charming little farmhouse on a great little plot of land. But what you can't afford, you can't afford.

Well, I'm a firm believer in whatever is meant to happen will, so I can't get too wrapped up in it. Perhaps there is another place for us somewhere.

Next week we register Anja for kindergarten. That's kind of unbelievable. She's moving from "preschool" to "school age." How did this happen?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

SO Annoying

*Note: I'm probably going to switch my blog over to Wordpress soon. Blogger is failing me--I think they are wanting to me to upgrade to Google+ or something like that, and I just don't want to do it. So until that time, I'm not able to put pictures on my blog. Pretty sad... but like I said, hopefully I'll be switching over to WordPress soon, with an entirely fresh, new blog. (We're also hopefully moving soon. See the connection there?)

So, when I was in highschool it was a little bit of a dinner table joke with my parents and me about the fact that I thought everyone and everything I ever came in contact with was SO ANNOYING. Every homework assignment, every teacher, every classmate, every time I put fifty cents into the pop machine and the damn thing didn't give me my cherry coke... EVERYTHING.

So, it won't surprise my parents when they read this that I'm about to talk about something that I found to be very ANNOYING.

But it might surprise them to hear that I'm really working on this! I've been trying, since I now consider myself to be mostly a grownup, to see things from other people's viewpoints and to understand that not everyone lives the same life as I do, and that something that is a certain way for me may not be that same way for everyone else in the world. (I know, I know, this is obvious... but it's hard to remember sometimes.)

So, I read (that's the past-tense word. I am not currently reading much of anything these days, not even blogs) a few different craft blogs as I got into crafting and being a mom and all the homemakey stuff that people like me get into when suddenly they find themselves spending their entire life at home with small children. Some of them I still read (okay, ONE of them, and it's Soulemama, and I only read her about once a week) and the others (some of which are listed on my sidebar) I haven't read in six months or more. I just don't have time for it anymore, to be honest. All this computer stuff. I can check Facebook because it's in my pocket, but even that I've gone to mostly just looking through it once a day other than popping on to see if I have any messages or notifications. I do love Instagram though.

Anyway, back to blogs. One of the blogs I read is Sew Liberated. I really like her blog, and I have her first book and I drool a little bit every time I see her second book because I really, really want it. I like her stuff! But her blog started getting a little.... glum. She fell into some hard times and she got a little more complainy a little more often and then she started fitting in some political jabs here and there and I decided that, even if I could empathize with her or sympathize, or whatever ize I could do, it was kind of dragging down my daily morale while simultaneously raising my blood pressure every morning. (I used to read the blogs in the morning before the girls woke up. Since I've had three, things are not so simple. It was a nice routine while it lasted!)

Anyway, I got to thinking about her blog this morning for some reason. And I was remembering it and I was thinking, you know, maybe I was being a little too harsh. Maybe I was being a little judgemental. Everyone is so sensitive about political views, maybe I just was rubbed the wrong way and need to give her another chance. So I looked up her blog while I was making dinner, and the very most recent post was an apology that she had been gone so long because she was having a difficult time adjusting to being a "full time stay-at-home mom" And then there was this excerpt:

For now, in the few mornings a week when the boys are cared for by my parents, I tend to my pattern business. Management stuff. Emails. In short, not soul-quenching work.

FEW MORNINGS A WEEK!?  A few mornings a week are not enough time for her?!?!  Does she realize that MOST stay-at-home moms get a daily naptime and that's IT for "personal nourishment" as she called it? Does she realize that most stay at home moms would take any kind of work, if it meant being able to do it in quietness without someone climbing on her, wiping their nose on your shirt (I actually have implemented a rule that they can't wipe their nose on my shirts on Sundays because I like to keep clean on that day. They've been very receptive!) or actively sucking calories from your bosom (and repeatedly slapping you in the face all through that meal)?!?!?!

You know what I did yesterday? I locked the bathroom door for the first time all week and I stayed in there awhile longer than was actually necessary, because I knew the girls were ok with Martin and I hadn't been alone in a long time. And I just stood in there and enjoyed the quiet. Because I'm the kind of stay-at-home mom who doesn't get "a few mornings a week" to myself. I have to lock myself in the bathroom to get that time.

Now, I'm not trying to sound bitter. If I so much as run out to the grocery store by myself sometimes I hear a baby cry in the next aisle and I get a little emotional and go home with only half the groceries because I miss my babies. (true story.) I LIKE staying home with my kids all the time. In fact, I LOVE IT. That's why I do it. I'll admit that it gets difficult when you start to forget if you're a human or a Kleenex. It gets difficult when your three year old calls down the stairs "my pajamas are dirty all the way! They're dirty all the way! They're dirty all the way! They're dirty all the way! etc." because she found a hair on her foot and you have to go up and lint roll her all over because of one tiny dog hair. It gets difficult when your six month old is super baby who can get anywhere in the blink of an eye and eat every choking hazard she can find along the way.

I guess my point is that NOBODY has time for self nourishment. You have to find it and piece it together. Sometimes I forget that when Martin leaves for work in the morning he's not just going to a coffee shop to hang out all day. He's going to work, where he's really busy all day long and doesn't usually take a lunch break and when he does it's often to run errands for me or for our house searching, or often he will come home to help me during his lunch break. That's not self-nourishment in the sense of "me-time." It's knowing you're doing the right thing. It's doing things out of love.  It's finding self-nourishment in the every day activities of life and doing things for others. It's not a freaking day at the spa.

And I know, I KNOW that we all DO need those times. And I get those times, and Martin gets those times and I hope that all stay-at-home moms (and working moms, and dads, and single over-worked people) get some times that are truly for their own rejuvenation. I know that it's so, so important to get that time and that if you don't, you might totally lose it. You come back from me-time feeling refreshed, reenergized, ready to go, with a recharged love for your stay-at-home (or whatever you do) vocation.

But holy toledo, do you really want a spa day every time?

Some stay at home moms get part time jobs. Some join a church choir. Or a social club. Or a charity group. My grandma spent her Me-Time taking meals to poor and lonely people. My mom played the electric bass in the church folk group (heh heh heh.) And all the other little loves and joys and hobbies were worked into the daily grind. A little sewing project here while the kids are doing a puzzle. Read a few lines of your books while you're waiting for the macaroni water to boil. Knit a few rows before the timer on the dryer buzzes. Or better yet, do those hobbies WITH your kids. Anja has all of a sudden decided she'd like to hand sew. (I think this was inspired by her cousin Angelica who made her an adorable little stuffed fox set for Christmas, which she had sewn entirely by herself, and which Anja LOVES.) So we've been cutting out hearts from pretty fabric and she's been stitching around the edges and then embroidering the inside. She loves it! And while she was doing that and Greta was off on her own coloring or drawing and Elka was just playing on the floor (eating things) I was able to knit a little bit on my sock. And it wasn't long before the moment ended, but we all founda little bit of me-time in that moment. We were just all together when we found it.

Anyway, the post rubbed me the wrong way. In a big way.

And then I thought to myself, "you know, I've been doing this stay-at-home mom thing for more than five years. Maybe I've just had more time to figure out that you don't get much time to yourself in this gig. Maybe she just needs a little time to find that out for herself." And she DOES have a hard life--her little baby boy was born with serious heart problems and she runs this entire business and I don't really know what her husband does... anyway, it's true that she is WAY busier and WAY more stressed out than I am by life. But STILL.

From the viewpoint of a regular, in the trenches, stay at home mom... MAN, that comment was annoying.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy Stinksmas

I really want to begin this blog post by simply saying


I'm pretty sure this holiday season will go down as the crappiest in our family's history. Thankfully, Christmas itself was okay, even if Martin and I were never quite feeling in the Christmas spirit, at least nobody was actively sick on that day. Well, if you exclude my sister and me. But the kids were well.

Now NOBODY is well. And we haven't been since LAST WEDNESDAY. (I'm writing this on Thursday night. That's MORE THAN A WEEK.) More than a week of fevers and coughs and sore throats and goopy, gunky, uncomfortable eyes. More than a week of full sinuses and coughing till we throw up (only Elka, to be fair) and missing out on seeing people and doing things and more than a week of not leaving the house and more than a week of screaming, crying, uncomfortable, sad, sick kids.


Let's go back to pre-Christmas and talk about the lack of Christmas Spirit around this place. I'll begin by reminding you how completely awesome in every single possible way last Advent and Christmas were. Last Advent was the most joyful time of anticipation I've ever experienced in my life. When I remember that, it makes it easier to see that this year never had a chance, really. We tried to do a good job of keeping up the anticipation, the joy of looking toward Christmas for all the right reasons. And we did have some fun--mostly of the secular nature though. We drove to Bloomington for a day one weekend to do some Christmas shopping and it was really fun and we got a lot of really thoughtful gifts for people. We went down to Indy another night and did the same thing, plus went to Trader Joe's and got a lot of special Christmassy foods and stuff. It was a fun family time! But it never really felt like Advent.

And that could be because of this house we're trying to buy. It's a deal that is going... it's moving... it's just not going smoothly. Or quickly. And at least once a day I get to the oh-let's-just-forget-about-it point. It's a really great little place, a little more than 2 acres with a nice old farmhouse, close to town. There have just been some hiccups along the way and it's turned into a Big Deal of Stress. I've got half my laundry room packed into boxes. I'm putting off buyings like gallon size ziplock bags because I don't want to have to pack any more than necessary when it's time to move. I want to start throwing stuff out, but I don't even know where to begin. I did clear out my kitchen pretty well, but the kitchen at the other house is set up pretty unconventionally. It's not filled with your typical cabinetry, so I can't just imagine my stuff going from my blue kitchen cabinets into those tan kitchen cabinets. It's not that simple. Plus, there's one room there that's going to be our library room and we purchased 5 enormous bookshelves from a local bookstore that went out of business. They are sitting in my parents' garage!

And speaking of my parents, our lack of Advent cheer could also partly be because my mom fell down (don't laugh!) and destroyed her elbow and spent an entire WEEK in a hospital in Indianapolis. That'll put a damper on pre-holiday cheer every time. We never went to visit her, because oddly enough, as we were getting ready to leave the house to do just that, Greta fell down the stairs onto her head and that night evening was spent in the local hospital Emergency Room making sure she'd be ok. (I'd like to add in here that this was many weeks ago and her bruised face/black eye was just getting to look more normal when she walked straight into a doorknob and BAM! Another black eye.) And Christmas as an extended family with the Matriarch laid up, while unique, can be somewhat subdued.

So that's the pre-Christmas stuff. And the idea of The Holidays just meant Big Delay in terms of that whole New House part of our life.

Christmas with our families was nice. We celebrated with Martin's family on the 23rd and it was a nice day. We celebrated with my family on the 24th and it was again a nice time--and the only time we saw my visiting brother and his family during their entire ten-day visit. Because on Christmas we hung out at home and were happy and the day after Christmas was a big snow day and Martin didn't have to go to work and that evening Greta went to bed with the fever and the next morning everything just went down the toilet and that's where it's been ever since.

A week is a long time to be sick. It's a long opportunity to miss things. I almost missed seeing my good friend Joannie. we've missed seeing our visiting siblings. New Years--HA! It was miserable. And now our tree is looking so downtrodden and wilty that I'm nervous about it keeping it up until Sunday. (who remembers to water the tree when you're busy watering your three crying children? Sometimes we watered them with Tylenol, maybe that would've perked up the tree.)

In the end, everybody's got ear infections and eye infections and disgusting sinuses. So all three girls are on ammoxicillin and hopefully will be on the mend soon. Actually, Anja is a few days ahead on her antibiotic and she is doing great. Back to her old self, one hundred percent, with just a lingering cough. I'm hopeful that the other girls will follow soon, but so far Greta is still not back to her old self. And Elka is getting there...

But I've got white things in my throat and the other day when I was AT THE DOCTORS office my throat wasn't hurting so I didn't bother putting myself into the appointment. But now today my throat hurts again and those white spots are multiplying and I'm just so sick of all of us being sick. I'm ready to pack up and move to Florida.

Well, here is a fortunate turn of events. Just now as I was getting to feeling really depressed, Kate Rusby came over my CD player singing "The King" which is the most incredible Christmas/Twelfth Night song ever created and it has lightened my heart.

I can't get any pictures to post. I'll try making a separate post for them. Maybe pictures will be more cheerful than this stinky account of our holiday season.