Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I do it because...

We had yet another counseling session with Grandma L and Aunt Ju-Ju. From the last session, we decided to agree on weekly phone calls with Logan and 2 one hour meetings at a public place (the mall play area) where they could see the kids. We followed through on the agreements until Grandma L made the guilt trip comment to Logan and I couldn't handle the stress of weekly calls any more. Bill stopped the calls altogether until we could talk about it in this session.

Bill and I met in the parking lot and waited together in my car because we were a bit early. I had been having not only a rough day because of all of this, but a rough week or so because of Bill. Since his return from New York, I had been sick to my stomach from stress and anxiety almost 24/7. So, adding this little hour of happiness was just the cherry on top of a big crap sundae. I was not excited to be there and I told Bill that I wanted to wait in the car for as long as we could, because I couldn't handle waiting in the small waiting room again while they happily chatted about dumb stuff while I was angry with how things have been going down.

Of course, I was ignored. And why nobody has yet to figure out that I'm not one to be ignored, that if you don't take what I have to say with consideration, I will get louder and louder until I am heard. So, there were words before going in. And that just made the situation even worse because I was pissed beyond pissed. I was livid.

We walk in and Grandma L and Aunt Ju-Ju say hi as if nothing is wrong. I tell them that I'm angry and would rather not pretend with niceties at this point. I was angry with the guilt trip in the last phone call and we would talk about it in the session. Then Aunt Ju-Ju opens her big mouth and we have words - many of them. Her manipulative, bitchy, button-pushing self showed through, saying that the apologies they gave last session were insincere, that she was sorry her brother is married to me and on, and on, and on. I wanted to leave. I wanted to punch her. I wanted to call her every horrible name that I think she is. But I stayed. I stayed because...

We go into the session and right away Aunt Ju-Ju starts off with her bitchy attitude, stirring the pot. I turned and said that she was not helpful in anyway and that she has been nothing but a catalyst towards destruction in this whole situation. The counselor then asked both Aunt Ju-Ju and Grandma L to leave while she talked to just Bill and I. Clearly, we were not on the same page, we haven't been for some time and this whole in-law insanity is just a driving wedge. Again.

She tried to get us back on track, talking to Bill about listening to me when I have concerns and about me letting Bill scale the severity of the situation, because the in-laws cause me such anxiety and stress that I'm hypervigilant. Then, because of how I feel around them, she thought it would be best if I went out in the waiting room when they came back in. She would express to Aunt Ju-Ju how important it is that she not divide the situation and to Grandma L that anything that sounds like guilt is not OK right now.

After the three of them had their time, and Grandma L and Aunt Ju-Ju left, Bill and I sat in again to go over what had transpired. All day I had been feeling bottled up and needed an emotional release - I needed a deep cry. I was at my breaking point and just heaved heavy, soul wrenching sobs. Every cell in my body unleashed the sadness.

After a while, we wrapped up. The counselor really tried to get Bill to understand that I do this because I love him, that I keep trying the best I can in this situation because of love.

And I'm on my way to work on post-traumatic stress disorder in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My sweet baby

Carter is such a sweet little guy. He is more of a cuddle kid, even though he is busy running around at times. As busy as he gets, playing with dinosaurs and cars with Logan or sitting at the book shelf reading his board books, he still takes the time - many times a day - to come over and give hugs. He wraps his little arms around our legs and gives us the most precious baby hugs. I love it!

When I get him in his car seat, he immediately reaches for his blanket that I keep in the car (both kids have blankets during the winter). He holds it up, says "et" or "ish" for blanket, smiles and then cuddles with it by his face and says "awww". IT IS SO CUTE! I can hardly stand it.

Oh, what a sweet, sweet baby he is!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The best month of December and Christmas EVER

So there's been a lot of celebrating over here with the biggest holiday season upon us. First, there was Bill's company Christmas Party. Unlike other people who may dread these parties, we absolutely love and look forward to the company party every year. Bill works with a great group of people and it makes the night even more fun. We've been to three Christmas parties for the company and every year it gets bigger and better. The food is delicious, the open bar is fantastic (and I would never want to see that bill!) and there are always tears of gratitude from many people during speeches and award ceremonies.

The boys were at home with a sitter and Bill's boss/co-worker's two kids. They had a pizza pajama party and enjoyed every minute. While we ate, drank and mingled, they jumped off couches and ran around the house screaming to their delight. We got a ride home from the limo/party bus service the Company provided so everyone could get home safely.

Then there was Logan's preschool Christmas program. As I mentioned, he was the kid in the class who didn't want to sing. Granted, he wasn't the biggest Grinch in the class, one of his other classmates had his arms crossed with a very angry scowl on his face. But, nevertheless, Logan looked like he was too cool for school. He must get it from his Father. During the "Jingle Bells" song, Logan's friend turns to him and tells him to sing. To which Logan Logan shakes his head and adamantly says "NO". It's hilarious.

After that, we had our Annual MOMS Club Holiday Potluck. It started out as a rough night. Bill had been out of town for the week on business and just as I was unloading the groceries from the car, the LDS missionaries came up the driveway and tried convincing me to come back to church for 15 minutes (again). Not wanting to be a jerk to them, I nicely told them why I wasn't only to get blank stares of disbelief and empty apologies. This whole event caused me to be late in getting dinner ready, which caused me to be late to the party. I was the only one who had the keys to get in. So getting there, by myself with the kids, was a complete nightmare. But, once we did, it was the best party our chapter has had yet. We had a White Elephant Exchange, a large potluck and lots of laughs and conversation. There were 25 families, about 100 people including kids and husbands and a lot of fun.

That night Bill came home from his business trip to New York. He came back with a ton of pictures to share (from the new camera we bought because I need one here at home for restaurant reviews while he's gone), presents for the boys and a Christmas present for me. A huge diamond necklace that made my jaw drop. I've wanted a necklace for a while and it just wasn't possible in the past. Bill has been doing very well at work this year so we've been by the jewelry store a few times to look. While in New York, he did some negotiating in the Diamond District and came home with a necklace that I never expected to have. I LOVE IT! And I'm thankful he couldn't wait to give it to me so I could start wearing it early.

Next, we took the kids to see Santa downtown (there are two in town - one in the mall and one downtown. The downtown Santa is more authentic and better). Logan was so excited, Carter, not so much. While we waited for our turn, Logan kept dancing around, poking his head through the curtain (it's in a cute wooden cabin) and asking when we would be able to sit on Santa's lap. Finally it was our turn, and this guy was a pro. He knew right away that Carter wasn't going for it, just by the look on his face. He had instructions for me - how to sit with Carter and where while Logan sat on the other side listing his Christmas wants - dinosaurs, race cars, flutes and guitars. It was a well organized process (almost too organized, but I guess you have to be when dealing with thousands of kids every day) and we got the excited squeals of an almost 4 year old in return.

A few days later I got an email from Bill saying that we should go look for a new car that night. We have been a one-car-family for years, even before kids. It's worked for us and our trusty Outback has been a great car with minimal problems. With Bill traveling and our family growing, it has been more of a necessity to have a second car. We had been discussing buying another in the spring. But, we only had a few payments left on our old car and were ready to get another now.

We went and test drove a Nissan that we didn't like and decided that we are a Subaru family through and through. We drove straight to another dealership, found a car that we love and bought it the next day. I LOVE IT! It snowed quite a bit the day after we got the new Subaru and it did great - smooth, easy to control, no sliding and very warm (seat warmers!). Bill is now driving the old Outback and the kids and I get to take the new one. So, I guess I got a new car for Christmas too!

Then - Christmas Eve. Wow. First we woke up and hung out for a while, drinking coffee and making Christmas Tree Cookies. After Carter woke up from his nap, we all went sledding. This was the first time Logan had ever been and he was thrilled - and fearless. Both he and Bill went down the hill many times with Logan having the biggest smile on his face. He would tuck himself into a little ball every time he would go down, increasing his speed and flying off the small ramp that someone had build on the hill. Carter was not a fan of being out in the cold, despite being bundled up in a snow suit. He was too small to go down the fast hill, so I would pull him around the flat parts of the park, with him crying most of the time. I eventually got him back in the car, warm and listening to Christmas music while Logan and Bill went dare devil sledding.

We came back to eat dinner - a beef tenderloin that was good (but a bit too rare for our liking). It was hard to get the kids to eat because they were so excited to open presents. After much prodding, we finally gave in and let them go at it. There was wrapping paper everywhere as Logan searched under the tree for presents with his name on them. Carter mostly wanted to play with bows and the presents that Logan opened. They had an absolute blast this year and we all made out like bandits.

Christmas morning has been spent lounging around in our pajamas, eating sausage-hash brown casserole, watching Christmas movies and playing with toys. It's been a great year and the best Christmas EVER!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

He doesn't really care

When we first enrolled Logan in preschool, I was curious as to what the future might hold when it came to religious discussions with a three year old. Being agnostic and Logan going to a Christian preschool, I wondered what questions he might have about prayer and Jesus and how I might go about explaining that on his level of understanding.

I know that everyday they sing "prayers" in class (they are merely happy songs and not traditional prayers) and I've asked him to sing them for me. Which he won't. I've asked him to repeat some of the things from school. He doesn't. I've never asked him for his thoughts on Jesus, Church or prayer, waiting to see if he is even interested in the topic.

Today he had his preschool Christmas program and they've been learning about the "real" meaning of Christmas all week in preparation for the program. They sang about the Christmas star and Baby Jesus. Logan didn't sing at all (which is for a different post with video where you can watch his stone-faced glare at me). After the program, as always, I asked him what he learned. Again, he's never talked about anything affiliated with religion.

Despite him being softly introduced to the concept of religious beliefs, I've come to the conclusion that he just doesn't care. I don't see him asking who Jesus is or asking to say a prayer at the table any time soon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas traditions

Ever since starting our family, it has been exceedingly imperative to me that we create our own holiday traditions. Maybe this stems from my childhood and remembering my mom working almost every holiday, shortening the celebration to only a few moments. It's possible that I feel this way because the very few happy memories that I have from that time in my life are of special holiday moments, like the insane amounts of holiday baking she would do from scratch for presents - cookies, colored popcorn balls, fudge and bars - all of them excessively delicious. I'm almost certain that creating our own traditions is to help me feel that our family is normal in an extraordinarily abnormal reality.

We haven't started many traditions yet since the boys are still very young and each year we add more to our list. This year we will probably go look at Christmas lights, maybe a horse-drawn carriage ride downtown on Christmas Eve, depending on how cold it is. We have always donned them in Christmas pajamas to go to bed in on Christmas Eve and we bake cookies. There is one kind in particular that I can say is our family's traditional holiday cookie - White Chocolate Pistachio Butter Cookies. It's a recipe that I've created myself, but is not totally genius - it just makes sense.

After a particularly rough night, kids screaming and fighting, my patience thin and Bill on a business trip, I needed to make cookies for Logan's preschool program. I got Carter to bed and had Logan help me out with the project. His disagreeable disposition changed drastically as I was getting the kitchen ready for baking. He was so excited, pulling up his wooden step stool, helping me flour the counter and cutting out pine tree-shaped cookies, just like he does with his Play-Doh. He snuck bites of crushed pistachios and smiled as I painted each cookie to dip in the nuts, telling me to be careful every time I burnt my fingers with melted white chocolate. Covered in flour from chin, arms and chest, he grabbed me around my waist. "Mom, guess what?" he asked. "What?" I replied. "I love you" he said from the bottom of his almost 4 year old heart.

White Chocolate Pistachio Butter Cookies, also known as "Christmas Trees"

2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 tea spoon salt
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 bag shelled pistachios

Have all ingredients at room temperature (68-70 degrees). In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and salt on medium speed until very fluffy and well-blended. Add the egg yolk and beat until well blended. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Reduce the speed and slowly add the flour just until combined.

Dived the dough in half and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Pre-heat oven to 375. Place the shelled pistachios in a sandwich bag and crush to desired consistency (I like mine moderately crushed, not too fine, but not too whole). Empty crushed nuts onto a plate.

Take one disc of dough and roll out on a floured counter top. Cut the dough into tree shapes and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are barely golden brown. Using a thin-bladed spatula, transfer the cookies to a baking rack to cool.

On the stove top, melt the white chocolate (my preferred method is a double boiler). Stir chocolate until it is smooth and shiny. Remove from stove top.

With a silicone basting brush, paint one cookie with the melted white chocolate and then dip onto the plate of pistachios, covering the chocolate almost completely. Repeat with each cookie. Transfer to an air-tight container.

Yields 2 dozen cookies

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Our life in pictures

Some almost 4 year old has sticky fingers from sneaking pumpkin pie.

Playing at a friends house during Thanksgiving break.

Sunday morning cuddle time in our bed watching cartoons.

Carter now wants to walk around with binki's and blankets all of the time, sneaking them out of his room (the only place he can have pacifiers). And it's pretty cute.

Carter is now forward-facing with Logan! He loves it.

I will have lots of time to catch up next week and pretty much the whole month of January - I might even get back to posting daily (don't hold your breath).

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sudden optimism

It had been a rough start to the day - whining, crying, fussing, fighting - enough to make me want to just cancel all of our plans and hibernate while the freshly fallen snow covered the city in a white, icy blanket. We got home and I made the boys breakfast, slicing banana and blueberry bagel for Carter, a Nutrigrain bar, banana and Carnation Instant Breakfast (or as he likes to call it, "Chocolate Milk") for Logan. They were quiet and content for the moment, the irritations from the morning subsided.

I sat in the living room and opened the laptop to read emails, facebook and check stats while the kids were happily inhaling their food behind me. After wishing friends 'Happy Birthday', finding out that playgroup had been canceled and receiving an email of thanks for a review I wrote for a restaurant, a sudden feeling of optimism came over me. This next year is going to be amazing. My 30's are going to be the best years of my life, I thought to myself.

I have no idea why I thought this, especially since the morning had been nothing short of hell. But I did, and I felt strongly about it. Maybe it's because everything seems to be coming together - financial stability, parenting confidence, a sense of purpose outside of motherhood, a stronger and happier family that we've grown to be (and continue to work on). Maybe it's because we've reached a level of adulthood where we are more capable and still able to have a lot of fun. Maybe it's because we've been able to help others more than we ever have before. Maybe at this moment I've found the balance in life that I've been striving for.

Before this morning I used to dread turning 30 - feeling old, noticing gray hair and more stressed than a person should be at my age. Now, I'm looking forward to it. With all of the years of anxiety, stress and deep sadness for things that have happened, I'm being optimistic that this next year will be the best I've ever had.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Yes, I am that kind of person

Thanksgiving is over and now we move on to Christmas. I was excited beyond reason to get our tree this year. I was really looking forward to decorating the tree because this year I convinced Bill to let me decorate with a new tree theme.

What? Tree theme? Yes, you read that right. Tree theme. I am that kind of person. A tree theme person.

I've always been this way since we got married and decorated our own tree. I've been fascinated with the beautiful details and the design process. It's a creative outlet for me. Apparently, I'm darn good at it too (or so Bill says). For the last four years, we've had a rustic Colorado themed tree with wooden bears, moose, bird houses, and everything woodland-creature related. It was cute and I liked it a lot. But, it was getting tired. It was time to switch themes. I asked Logan what he thought we should do - flowers (poinsettias) or snowflakes. He chose snowflakes.

The boys helping me get the lights up, meaning, stomping on the lights and breaking glass all over the floor.

I bought all new ornaments - silver balls, silver glittered balls, ice cycles and snowflakes. We even have a snowflake as the star on top of the tree. I wasn't so sure about it when I was buying the ornaments, but now that it's finished - it turned out better than I imagined. It's beautiful.

So, now we have a winter wonderland snowflake tree that glows in the front room right in center of the window facing the street. It's picturesque.

Someday I will do the hall of trees - volunteering to decorate a display. Someday, when I'm not doing everything else!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Thankfulness

This year has been particularly good to us. Thinking back on the last four years (or more), this year has been the least stressful, the most fun and the most successful. It's been nice to catch a break, to be able to breath and actually enjoy life for a while.

I am so thankful that Bill has a stable job. In this economy where some are without employment, others wonder how they are going to pay the bills, we are fortunate beyond measure to have his company in our lives. He loves going to work everyday and unlike other jobs, never goes to bed dreading the next day. While he may travel more than we'd like, it's an easy sacrifice to make.

I am thankful for my family - the sane members. I'm happy beyond the moon to be able to create wonderful memories with my kids, going on special family outings or even doing relaxing puzzles at home.

I am thankful for my fabulous friends. Without them, my life wouldn't even be as fun as it is. I laugh heartily, to the point of tears. They listen to my complaints and offer a shoulder to cry on. They make me smile. A lot.

I am thankful for our health, because without it, we have nothing. I am thankful for the home we live in and that we will be able to continue to live here for as long as we want.

I am thankful for the personal growth I've made in the last year, the lessons I've learned and the changes I've made. I'm thankful to evolve and not stay stagnant in a stage of life.

I am especially thankful for writing. It has changed my life. While I may not write here daily like I used to, I'm still writing every day (somewhere). This blog has changed my life for the better, has helped our family and has assisted the troubles in our home. I cannot imagine my life without writing.

There are so many things I am thankful for - the list could go on forever. But, I am so very thankful for all that we have.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The in(sane)-laws

This is not working out. I want it to stop. Now. I hate it. I hate Sundays. This arrangement is worse than the ones we've had before.

Ever since we agreed to the weekly Sunday phone call between Logan and the grandparents, Sundays have become full of tension, anxiety, stress and it's resurfacing my pent up rage towards them. Bill and I have been getting along pretty well lately, but I feel like every Sunday slowly drags us back down. All of the problem feelings surface, like resentment, anger and hurt and they bottleneck in my chest as Bill shrugs it off trying to pacify me. Why did I think it was going to be any different?? Why am I continually driving myself insane thinking that situations are going to change?

Each Sunday is just another reason to argue. You'd think Bill would put two and two together and make the best decision for our family, especially since last Sunday he didn't make the call for Logan. He was supposed to be out of town and plans changed. He stayed home, but the in-laws still thought he was on business. No phone call to them, no stress in our house. Simple equation, right? He's too busy making his mom happy instead of helping the happiness in our house. Again.

I finally got Bill to agree to have the phone call on the speaker so I could hear what was being said, especially since I thought I heard an unsettling remark in the first call. Three or four weeks later, it finally happened. And just as I thought, "clueless" Grandma L is making inappropriate comments. First, Logan is talking about going over to their house to play hide and go seek. "Wouldn't it be fun if you could stay here the whole time?" she says to Logan. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? She just asked my three year old son if it would be fun if he could spend the whole time there. We're having issues with her understanding the role of a grandparent and this just digs her grave even deeper.

Then, Logan gets tired of talking on the phone after only a few short minutes. "I want you to talk to Daddy, " he tells her. "But I want to talk to you," she replies. "Why do you want to talk to me? Why don't you want to talk to Daddy or Carter?" There's an uneasy silence as she thinks about her answer. "Because I love talking to you" she responds. "Well, I want you to talk to Daddy", he says again. "That makes Grandma sad," she tells him.

I glare at Bill and it takes EVERY. OUNCE. OF. SELF. CONTROL to just sit there and say nothing as she tries to emotionally manipulate my son with a guilt trip because he doesn't want to talk to her anymore. Bill just sits there and shrugs his shoulders like it's no big deal.

I couldn't sleep last night because the hatred for her began growing inside me like a toxic cancer. This was the very reason I thought the cut-off was the best choice for our family. Now with the phone calls, that cancer grows bigger every week, infecting our family more intensely. It's too much. And now with this stunt that she just pulled, I am without a doubt going to contact her to let her know that I don't appreciate her guilt tripping my kids. Bill won't do it. He'll just shrug it off again. The mama bear is wide awake now and Grandma L better watch out. These claws are sharp.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I won't answer

Not too long ago I got a new cell phone. It's a spiffy phone that has a full QWERTY keyboard and is easily linked to both of my email addresses. Texting is simple, checking my email is a piece of cake. Really, I'm hyper-connected.

However, if anyone calls me - I usually won't answer. And if I don't recognize the number, I'm definitely not answering. AND? If you don't leave a message, I won't call you back. It's been this way forever. I don't know why I don't like to talk on the phone because when I was a kid, I used to have conversations for hours. Now? Not so much. I'd rather just email or text back.

Maybe it's because I'm traumatized from our poor years when bill collectors were constantly calling. Maybe it's because when I try to have a conversation with a friend, I'm always stopping mid-sentence to yell "STOP PUTTING THAT IN YOUR NOSE! Don't climb up there! Stop fighting! " Maybe it's because I have so much to do that I just have time to talk and can just as easily stay in touch via email. Or Facebook - that's even better.

Whatever the case, I usually won't answer. But, at least I'll call you back! Usually...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Literary abandon or abandoned literature?

A few weeks ago I brought up the idea of participating in this years NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). A few of the other writers thought it would be fun and three of us decided to take the plunge. So, we have 30 days to write a 50,000 word, 175 page fiction novel. One of the writers averaged it out to 1,700 words a day. Do you want to know how many I've typed up so far?


I totally bit off more than I can chew.

I have a story line for a horror fiction novel. Funny, because I don't read fiction and I certainly don't read horror. I don't even watch horror films because I get nightmares easily. But, for some reason, I think I can write horror. Actually, I've wanted to write a memoir of my childhood, but I can't remember a whole lot (the brain does funny things, I suppose). I had a journal of everything and when Bill and I were engaged, we burned the journal in a barbecue pit at a park. It was a way to close that chapter on my life and not have anything to remind me of the horrors.

I think I can take the details that I do remember and then add some more craziness with a serial killer living in a family house and turn it into a work of fiction. I suppose all I have to do now is find the time to write it all up. Bill was going to be on a business trip all week this week and I was going to use that alone time at night to write and catch up. The trip got canceled, so now I think I'm just going to have to neglect my family this week to get it done.

How are all of these writers with jobs (or I should say, multiple jobs) doing it all? How can I fit preschool, playgroups, food writing assignments, meetings and everything in between? I'm not one to admit that I have too much on my plate - but seriously, I'm full. However, I'm not giving up. I'll get there, even if I have to lock myself in the office for a while.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween bust

This year Halloween was a bust. Well, not totally, but it was cold and snowy. Many of our plans were canceled because we got a record-breaking snowfall that shut down the city for a couple of days.

We were able to go to the pumpkin patch for Logan's school field trip and pick out some pumpkins together. We got to go trick-or-treating at The Farm the day before it got really cold, which was great. Logan got to knock on doors and Carter got to come along, all the while we didn't freeze our fingers off. On one of the snow-in days, we were still able to make it out to a Halloween party with Logan's friends who are also classmates. We all had a great time there too.

We missed out on Logan's preschool fall festival where they were going to dress up in their costumes and play games. I was going to do face painting for the class (I have no face painting skills, so that would have been interesting). On Halloween, it was still cold and even though the snow melted, it was too cold for Carter to go. Bill and Logan went out in the neighborhood and Carter and I stayed home to hand out candy.

It wasn't a horrible holiday, but it could have been so much more fun without the snow. Yuck. I hate winter.

The best part of the season this year was Logan's interest in being scary, spooky and having the creepiest costume an almost 4 year old could have. He really got into it. At first he wanted to be a Sleestak from the Land Of The Lost. We found a swamp monster costume at Target that would have been perfect. But, when we went to get it, he changed his mind and wanted to get the Grim Reaper costume with glowing red eyes. Whatever works!

So, here is this little kid in a creepy costume walking around with glowing eyes. When we were at The Farm, it was designed to be a "not so scary" event. I later heard that the kids weren't supposed to wear scary costumes. Oops! While the other kids were dressed up like pirates, princesses and super heroes, Carter was a super cute and cuddly frog, here comes Logan dressed as Death. Awesome.

Logan is getting more brave as the months go by. Not only did he want to dress in a scary costume, but having a mean mom moment, I wondered if he would be traumatized watching a scary video clip online. You know those pop out and scream monster videos that go around? Well, there was a Ghost of Michael Jackson one and I let him watch that (with the volume turned down). He thought it was funny and wanted to watch it three more times. I got this on camera too. Hilarious!

Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm being stalked

I'm being stalked by the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or, more commonly known as Mormons. Now, if you don't know the details of my life in the church, you can click right there on the side bar on the label "religion". I think it was even the first post about religion that I wrote. The story in a nutshell - I was Mormon and Bill was not. I was told to choose The Church or choose Bill because I couldn't have both (because we couldn't get married in the temple). I left The Church and since then have become very anti-organized religion, ultimately resulting in my agnostic beliefs.

Since leaving The Church, I've been tracked and followed all over the country. I left The Church when we lived in Vegas and never contacted them from that point on. We moved to Portland, Denver and two different houses in the town we live in now. In each place, I've had members of The Church (Home Teachers, Visiting Teachers, Missionaries) come by to get me to come back. It's partly my fault because I haven't had my name removed from the records, so technically I'm considered "inactive" in their eyes. It's been about 12 years since I left and just last week I got a letter from a clerk in the Ward I "should" belong to.

This letter tells me what time services are being held in the ward and it came with my Individual Ordinance Summary attached - basically all of my personal information relating to the church (my maiden name, date of birth, place of birth, baptism date, confirmation date, my parents names and birth dates, Bill's name, and various addresses I've lived at). The kicker was the quote inserted from the current Prophet, Thomas S. Monson from the April 2008 Conference:

"Change for the better can come to all. Over the years we have issued appeals to the less active, the offended, the critical, the transgressor - to come back. Come back and feast at the table of the Lord, and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of fellowship with the Saints.

In the private sanctuary of one's own conscience lies that spirit, that determination to cast off the old person and to measure up to the stature of true potential. In this spirit, we again issue that heartfelt invitation: Come back. We reach out to you in the pure love of Christ and express our desire to assist you and to welcome you into full fellowship.

To those who are wounded in the spirit or who are struggling and fearful, we say, Let us lift you and cheer you and calm your fears. Take literally the Lord's invitation, 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'

I put the letter down on the kitchen counter and sighed. Really? This can't be serious. Were they calling my bluff 12 years later? First I was told to make a choice - I did and now they are pretty much saying "oh, never mind - come back. It doesn't matter what choice you made (we'll help you change that choice)". Clearly they know Bill is not a member and that unless he converts (which he will not do), we will never reach The Church's ultimate goal - being together forever in the Celestial Kingdom.

What a bunch of bull shit.

Honestly, I think their membership numbers are dropping. I made a facebook status update half joking about being stalked, when really, it's pretty true. I've been followed for over 12 years without me giving them any information. Kind of scary, really. And I will never go back. My life is honestly so much better without being under the control of The Church.

I can say what I want to say, wear what I want to wear, eat and drink what I want to drink, watch the movies I want to watch, pretty much do everything I enjoy without having to repent because I drank coffee at breakfast or had a beer at dinner. I can be the independent free-thinker that I am and not have to be subservient to the leadership of the Priesthood. I can teach my children to be critical thinkers and not just to accept what they are told. I can accept my friends (or family) as who they are, different religion or different lifestyle. I don't have to constantly proselytize trying to convert non-members that I come across. I won't have to tithe 10% of my income (which is extortion, really - pay your tithing or you will not have your temple recommend and you will not achieve salvation).

Not only do I have free-will, I have freedom.

And that's just the surface. I've studied the scriptures for years. I've read them all - Bible (both new and old testament), Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Convents. I've read hundreds of other Church publications, been to camps, seminars, gave talks during Sacrament meetings and tried my best to be a missionary, spreading the word and trying to convert non-members. I know enough to know that this is not the "One and Only True Church".

I don't believe that other people will live out their Eternal Life in purgatory because they believed something different, or that their interpretation of God is not the same. I don't believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I don't believe that there is a Prophet, or that leaders in The Church are inspired by God. I don't believe that a person's salvation is dependent on the actions (or inaction) of others. I don't believe in hereditary religion.

I believe that organized religion, in general, is corrupt.

Really, I could go on with this forever without even getting into the technical theory of it all. But, I think it's time I get on it to remove my name from their records before I have to have this conversation, again, with The Church members.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Parent-Teacher Conference

Last week Logan's preschool had their first parent-teacher conference. I was actually a little nervous. What was he doing while he was on his own? Was he being respectful and listening? Or was he dishing out the sassy attitude that he gives me when I pick him up from school?

I sat at the table with me on one side and Logan's three teachers sitting on the other. They smiled and handed me a pile of items - his bright green school shirt that I had ordered and a stack of papers that listed skills 3 1/2 year olds are learning and what they were doing in school. "Well, our first parent-teacher conference. Nothing like that to make you feel old!" I joked.

The teachers said that Logan was doing great and there was really nothing to talk about or be concerned with. They said he has a lot of friends in the class and got into the routine very easily. They laughed about how much he likes dinosaurs and race cars, telling me that he growls like a dinosaur on the playground, gets the other kids to play dinosaurs together and talks about them so much that some of his classmates are asking the teachers why he talks about them so much.

God, he's the weird kid, isn't he, I thought to myself. They assured me that he wasn't excessive or disruptive and that they were impressed with how much he knows about them. I laughed saying that I'd get him to expand on his interests and hopefully he'll have more to discuss on the slides.

I looked over his report card where skills were rated as R = Ready, P = Progressing and NY = Not Yet. He was doing quite well with most of his sheet filled with R's. He got a few P's on "carries on a conversation with an adult" (not a big surprise), "holds a book correctly" (which is a shocker since we read every night at bedtime), "situates self in space: in-out, over-under, front-back, etc" (which I figured because he's always been this way). At the bottom there was a space for notes where the teachers wrote that he especially enjoys building toys and outdoor play. Sounds like Logan to me!

The whole meeting lasted about 5 minutes with another 5 minutes of chatting, mostly about my restaurant review blog since one of the teachers is a big fan and reads often (I did not know this!)

It was a fun meeting and I'm so happy that Logan is doing well in school. I'm also still in shock that he's old enough to be in school and have parent-teacher conferences. Wow....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It never ends

Sometimes I think that Bill and I are the hardest working people...when it comes to marriage. We certainly have not had the picture perfect relationship and have had our fair share of troubling times. It's the stereo-typical roller coaster of sorts - a lot of highs and a lot of lows, twists and turns, drops that make you feel like you're going to throw up, not to mention the arms in the air and screaming - sometimes for fun and sometimes not. It's always a wild ride in our life.

Despite thrills that rival the Colossus, we have never stopped the ride to get off. Maybe we're crazy, since I think many people would have given up long ago and really, love can only take you so far. Craziness however, that will make you do some insane things.

I think that we're still in it for the kids. Now, we're not staying for the kids, we're working hard for the kids. There is a gigantic difference. I think having a family has motivated us to make it work, and fortunately, it's motivated both of us (because if one won't do the work, we would fall apart quickly). We do the work, we have the uncomfortable conversations, we go to our marriage counseling sessions when we need to, we make the changes in ourselves that need to be made to make our house a happier home. Seriously, we are the hardest working people at marriage.

And it never ends.

Over the last few months, we were going through some twists and turns that would make anyone get off the ride and puke in the garbage can right next to the Cotton Candy stand. It had been about six months since our last marriage counseling session. We were able to get back on track right before our appointment, but we still went. Rather than being in a crisis mode, we were working on ways to become closer - which was a nice change. Our counselor, who regularly declares us as favorite clients, said that we are in a nice spot to be working on making things amazing rather than getting out of a hole.

Last night Bill had mentioned getting a boxing game for the Wii. "That way you can virtually punch me when you're mad rather than throwing things at my head from across the room, " he joked. "But, there's no reason for that now," he said. I shrugged my shoulders. "No, there's not. It's nice."

It's nice to be able to enjoy the view and maybe next time, I won't scream so loud at the intense G-force drop. After riding a few of those, they aren't as scary anymore. But, I've never been a fan of roller coasters anyway...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Carter's first hair cut

We're finally all healthy again! Well, Logan and I never got sick. Carter's rebound was real - he only has a 24 hour virus. Bill took an entire week to recover. We wonder if he really did have H1N1. Who knows though, because they aren't testing adults here unless there are complications.

So, since we were germ-free - it was time for the boys to get their hair cut. We are getting our family portraits taken this week, and some of us needed a little cleaning up. This would be Carter's first hair cut!

I took Carter to the same kids' salon that Logan got his first hair cut at. Carter is just a tad older than when Logan got his first cut, but he didn't fare as well. The minute I put him in the race car, he cried. We switched chairs so that he could sit on my lap. He squirmed and climbed up me, despite trying to be comforted. The stylist did a great job of getting it done with him all over the place.

Afterward, Carter looked like a little boy and not a baby anymore. Sigh.....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Everyone's getting it now

Remember when swine flu was this horrible disease from Mexico that was hyped up so much, claiming that people were dying left and right? Remember how schools closed down and there was talk about closing International borders? Remember when people were freaking out about getting a vaccination readily available? Yeah, I remember all of that too. Craziness.

Now, months later, I've known a handful of people who've had H1N1 (as it's now referred as rather than swine flu). Nobody has died. And while it's crappy to be sick with the flu, everyone recovered as quickly as they would with the seasonal flu. Last week Bill and I were talking about the propaganda that goes with new diseases - avian flu, SARS - remember when everyone in China were wearing surgical masks everywhere they went and now, years later, it's nothing but a "remember that" moment? H1N1 will be the same way.

At this very moment, we're getting the round of flu throughout the house. It started with both Bill and Carter. Bill woke up yesterday feeling like crap and said that he thought he was getting the flu. Carter woke up a total grump. He didn't have a fever, so I thought it was teething. After two doses of Tylenol and him still crying non-stop (from 7am to 11:30am), I figured something was wrong. After a few hours, he got a low-grade fever and only wanted to be held. Then he got that glazed look in his eyes that made me think he was going to blow chunks at any moment. But he never did. THANK GOD.

He was listless and lethargic for the day. Bill was getting worse too and needed me to pick him up early from work. All day today they've been recovering, but Carter was quick to spring back. He woke up fine, no fever, nothing. Just like his old self again (maybe still a little clingy). Which is good because his Doctor wanted him to come in to get treated with Tamiflu if we thought he had H1N1 (which is a scary medicine, let me tell you). Bill still has a fever and is shoving Kleenex up his nose to stop it from running. He's having a harder time recovering.

Both of them have the seasonal flu, but H1N1 is making it's way around town, around preschool, around daycare, around the gym, around MOMS Club, around every where we go.

Logan and I have been spared so far. I've been snapping at Logan to keep things out of his mouth, to keep his hands away from his face, to wash his hands - pretty much being a germaphobe. I've been sleeping with Logan since Bill still has a fever. I'm not going to do anything to increase my chances of catching crap - so I'll bunk with the 3 1/2 year old. I really do hope it ends with Bill and Carter.

Wishful thinking, I suppose.

Monday, October 12, 2009


It's been about two months of our "at-home immersion therapy" to help Logan overcome his extreme fear of dogs. I'm able to say that he's officially cured of his phobia.

It's taken a lot of constant reassurance, hand holding, explaining, and encouraging him to face it (or rather the dogs) head on. It started with working with Therapy dogs at activities around town. Then we worked with him being comfortable around our friends dogs while they were gated and separated. Then we went to one of Bill's co-worker's birthday party where they have two small dogs. On the drive over there, we had a conversation in the car with Logan about the dogs and told him that he would be fine. "I'm scared of dogs, but if you hold my hand I won't be scared," he told us. We got to the party and he was a little wary, but slowly warmed up to them. Then another co-worker brought over his two Labradoodles and they ran around, and another co-worker brought her dachshund. There were five dogs with free reign of the yard there.

And Logan did fine.

After he warmed up, he got so comfortable that he wanted to be friends with a Min Pin, talking about how cute he was. I helped to remind him how he has to hold out his hand and get down low so the dog would come over to him and sniff his hand. The dog was more interested in barking Holy Terror at the neighbor dog through the fence. Eventually, I caught Logan running after the Min Pin growling at it like a dinosaur (which I quickly grabbed him and reminded him that WE DO NOT GROWL AT DOGS). The last thing I want is for him to get over his fear then get attacked by a face-biter because he thought it would want to play dinosaurs.

It's gotten to the point where Logan talks about us getting another dog. We're not even close to being ready for that yet. However, it's a huge relief to see that Logan is over his dog phobia and that he can comfortable enjoy the winter months at friends houses with our furry friends along side.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Mrs. Clean

When I was pregnant with Carter, I put in an ad on Craigslist looking for someone to barter personal training for house cleaning. At the time it was a necessity. I physically could not clean our house being pregnant and sick with HG. I went through three different people before I found the one we have now. She's been coming to our house three times a week (once to clean and twice to train) for over a year now. Actually, a year and a half.

Last month she needed a surgical procedure that kept her recovering at home for an entire month. I was on my own with the house cleaning. At this point I had no physical excuses, I am completely capable of doing it, it's just finding the time. And without her here those three days a week, the house just wasn't the same. She's pretty much a part of the family now. We've gone out for lunches and will continue to do so. She came to our rescue and brought food and formula for the kids when I got really sick with the flu and Bill was at work. She came over to watch the boys when Bill and I went to the vet hospital to put Buddha down. Her husband (who I also train) is going to dress up like Santa for the kids this year. These two are like surrogate Grandparents for the kids, bringing them stickers when they visit.

This week she got the all clear to workout and clean again. While it's been nice to have a clean house that I didn't have to put the time and effort in, it's been even nicer that they are back in our home.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A narrow escape

Over the last few weeks I've really begun to appreciate and pretty much take advantage of the good times while they last. Because they won't last for long.

When Bill and I first got married, we were on the fast track to success. Both of us had great jobs and we were getting paid pretty well. We were working our way up the ladder. Then it all came to a halt after 9/11. The domino effect that happened after that lasted for years. About four years to be exact. We pulled up our boot straps and tried the climb again. Just as we were getting to the top, the ladder got kicked out from under us and we were right back at the bottom, working our way up again. That was right around the time I got pregnant with Logan. We are now recovered from that kick and back on top again, four years later.

I've been telling Bill that while I don't want to sound pessimistic, I'm just waiting for the rug to get pulled from under us again. It always happens. I suppose if I expect everything to be taken away, I won't be too shocked if it happens. It almost happened a few weeks ago.

Some things went down at Bill's office and some people (one of Bill's closest co-workers) were fired. Things were unstable that day, it was unknown who else was going to get the axe and it seemed to be total chaos. I was just waiting to get the call about Bill finding himself unemployed and what we would need to do to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off. Again.

Fortunately, Bill's job is secure and there will not be any pulling up of boot straps.

But over the hours of that day, I really thought about how everything we have can be gone in an instant. How one day, we could lose a family member and the happiness that we know now can quickly become misery. The other shoe could drop at any moment, so enjoy it all while it lasts.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Moving on

Friday was the day. The day we once again, met with Grandma L and Aunt Ju-Ju with their counselor to figure out where to go from here. The time-out had lasted an entire year without any action on their part, except phone calls to Bill becoming far and few between and the words "I love you" were not said any longer.

Even after a restless night, I wasn't angry with Bill for lying to me about the ambush session. I still don't know why. I should have been. He lied to me again, I was tricked and it was for a sensitive situation. I had every right to be livid with him. Maybe it's because the gloves are off and I'm not taking any more crap from his family. Maybe it's because I have faith in myself that I'm not going to let them push me around anymore and will say what needs to be said because I just don't care at this point. Maybe it's because Bill hasn't tried to do any sneaky things in this year time-out and I've had the proof that he will have my back. Maybe it was because I needed the entire year to heal from the stress they caused. Whatever the case, this was a different situation.

Friday morning I dropped the kids off at the drop-in center so I could get my hair done. I hung out at the salon for a few hours. It was fun and relaxing. I wasn't even stressed about the upcoming appointment. It wasn't until on the drive over to the office that I started to have anxiety.

I picked up Bill from work and we drove to the session. He seemed indifferent about the whole thing, not worried if we got there on time or what happened. This might have made me feel better, knowing that if crap hit the fan, he wasn't going to try to push me into anything. We got there and just like the last session, sat in the waiting room while the three of them chit-chatted about stuff like nothing was wrong. This time I just flipped open my phone and surfed facebook.

We got in the session and the counselor took a completely different approach than the last session. Rather than hashing out the four plus years of events, she started with the ultimate goal (which for Bill is some kind of normalcy) and systematically wrote out what steps we need to take to get there. It was very structured, there was no room for misunderstanding. It was very black and white - exactly what I need in these tumultuous situations and exactly what Grandma L needs to get a clue.

At the beginning of the session I stated, just like last time, that I was there for Bill. Unless there was going to be different action from his family, I had no interest in participating and I was fine with the way things were. The counselor respected that and said that I could jump in at any time. The first thing she asked is what is the first and most important step that needs to be done before any baby-steps can be taken. Bill didn't quite get what she was going for and I knew exactly what she was asking. I quietly sat and observed.

She re-worded the question and got the ball rolling. Bill got it and said that an honest and sincere apology to me needs to be made. There were so many things that needed to be addressed, that they picked two instances and worked with those - the time she called herself "Mommy" to Logan during their visit last year and the time she called me "Little Bitch" and cut me out of the family a few years ago.

The counselor turned to Grandma L and told her exactly what a sincere apology sounds like, the reasons why it's so important and that even though she just put the words in her mouth, she needed to find her own for this situation. She was telling Grandma L that she needed to take responsibility for her part in the problem and that giving me the chance to let go of ill-will was critical.

Grandma L's apology was weak, but I didn't expect anything more. What was important was that she was facing the music. There was no more denial of situations or sweeping them under the rug as if they were unimportant events. I sat there quiet and emotionless and let them do what they needed to do. She cried about how she didn't want to be their mom, just their grandma and that she had no idea calling herself mommy would insinuate otherwise (gee, go figure).

When she attempted to apologize for calling me names and cutting me off, she began to justify her actions saying that she felt attacked. The counselor stopped her and redirected her back to the goal, telling her that she was confused in the moment and rather than asking questions to understand the problem, she mixed-up her confusion with anger and lashed out. She still needed to resolve the act of her confusion. Grandma L begrudgingly apologized. Things were moving in the right direction.

Then, Aunt Ju-Ju pipped up and asked about their apology. Just as we were taking steps forward, she was taking us two steps back. The counselor said that it wasn't going to happen, that it was too big of a step at this point. Bill then interjected. "Kristin has apologized. Sincerely. The phone call that she made to Mom where Mom hung up on her. I heard her apologize for her tone and jumping to conclusions." Grandma L began to lie, saying that she didn't hang up on me. This is where I opened my mouth, "Yes, you did," and the counselor quickly got us back on track. She told Grandma L and Aunt Ju-Ju that they will have to take Bill's bookmark reminder that there was an attempt at sincere apologies and that if they push it any farther, we'll stalemate and leave right back at square one. The counselor recognized how important Bill's input was and thanked him for this information. Grandma L rolled her eyes, shook her head and sighed, "Fine. Move on."

We accepted that this was all they were able to do, we tackled the two events and moved on to the next step which was discussing comfort levels of a meeting. This is where I added my two cents saying that I would compromise with a public meeting. We were not going to their house and they were not coming to ours. We agreed to meet for an hour at the park. We discussed boundaries - where Grandma L was told that crying would scare the kids (and I was SO GLAD the counselor brought this up because this is one of her main tools for emotional manipulation). Aunt Ju-Ju asked all of the boundary questions for Grandma L - what was acceptable and what wasn't. This really rubbed me the wrong way because it's common sense, but then I had to remind myself that this is the problem - they lack common sense and they have no concept of boundaries.

So, we went over actions like, hugging was OK, holding the kids was OK, taking them off somewhere else was not and when I asked for my children back, I expected to be respected and not argued with. Aunt Ju-Ju pipped up again, "No, what does it look like. We're not getting back into the past." But the counselor saw that they needed to know what not to do just as much as what a perfect meeting looked like and took over with that. "So, no taking the kids from your arms, no taking them out of the playground."

With this agreement to meet for an hour at the park, the counselor wrapped up the session quickly before anything could go wrong and screw up the massive baby-steps that were taken.

At the car, Bill hugged me and thanked me. He knew that I was doing this for him. After an hour of keeping up The Stone Wall in the session, completely emotionless, I let it all out on Bill's shoulder, tear-staining his shirt. In some way, I was able to move on because I felt like there was some justice being done. That people were facing their actions that caused hurt (no matter the intention) and this is one of those core issues for me. I need justice.

On Sunday afternoon, we woke up to rainy weather. We had to go with an alternate plan because the park wouldn't work. Bill tried to suggest they come over to our house and I quickly pulled the breaks on that. We decided to meet at the mall play area.

We got there and a million unruly kids were running around. Grandma L and Grandpa L greeted the kids and hung out in the courtyard until Logan pretty much told everyone that it was time to go play. So we made our way in. It was the perfect place for this first meeting. It was an absolute madhouse in there and I spent the entire time wrangling the boys, making sure Logan was sharing the slide and that Carter wasn't getting trampled over. There was no constant one-on-one interaction, just brief conversation with the kids before they ran off to play on something else. An hour was all Carter could handle and Bill recognized that he needed to go home. I didn't have to say anything. He wrapped up the play-date and we went home. It was relatively painless. There was no gabbiness, no teary emotional guilt trips, no excessive paparazzi photo shoots (which we did not address and I was concerned about it). It was quick, like ripping off a band-aid.

The plan of action is one more hour-long public meeting (I'm assuming sometime around Christmas). Between then, weekly brief phone calls with Logan on Sundays are OK and then we meet with the counselor again to asses the next step. We'll see what happens...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Insomniac ramblings

It's 1:00am and I'm as awake as I would be at 8:00pm. Half of this is due to the side-effects of the asthma medication that I'm almost finished with, the other half is due to the sucker punch from earlier this evening.

As I was writing a restaurant review to post in the morning, Bill informed me (apologetically - and we'll get to that later) that we have an appointment to meet with his parents in a counseling session at 4:30 the next day. I was stunned. Not angry. Not livid. Not terribly upset. But utterly stunned. I did not even have the words to say a single word.

To back up a bit, half of the writer's block going on over here was due to some turbulent times between Bill and I. Every marriage has rough patches and God knows we have our fair share. It was bad. Very, very bad and there was damage. A lot of damage. Nothing that couldn't be undone, but there was some serious hurt that needed (and still needs) to be healed. We made it though the eye of the storm, changing our course and getting back on the right path, slowly but surely - trying - and then... this.

When Bill said that we needed to talk, that old familiar sinking feeling crept into the pit of my stomach. I closed the laptop and he held my hand. Sitting next to me and being the most sincere he's ever been, he apologized for all of the pain he caused over the last month or so. It was heartfelt, honest and real. He said that he made this appointment weeks ago during the horrible time and regretted it the instant he hung up. He assured me that he has my back and always will.

I still don't know what to think.

Even as it sinks in, I'm still not angry. I don't know why. We even laughed and cracked jokes. As my throbbing head pounded all ability to think from my brain, I told him that I thought I just had an aneurysm. My brain had just exploded. And I laughed. Why? Beats me.

I have a day to sort out my thoughts and clear my head. 4:30 marks the end of the year-long break away from the in-laws (which was oddly a post I had been thinking about writing next week).

I'm off to take a sleeping pill...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mars and Venus?

First and foremost, I have to acknowledge the incredibly lame writing that's been going on here on the blog. Life has been hectic with schedules, preschool and really, my writing on the restaurant review blog. I've never been one to multi-task well, even though I try. The last month or so of posts here have sucked. It's not my usual style and I think I'm about to come out of my personal writing funk. No more boring and bland blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, there has been a lot on my mind that I've wanted to write about, and we all know that I'm not one to hold back when spilling the beans, but it's taking me some time to even sort it out in my own head. Sometimes I just write and it works itself out, other times I have to have an epiphany before I hit the "New Post" button. This may be a combination of the two.

When I pick up Logan from preschool, I ask him about his day on our drive home. "How was school today? What did you learn about? What did you do?" "I dunno," he replies with a shoulder shrug. "What do you mean you don't know? You were there for 2 hours! You know what you did today. What did you eat? What did you read?" I ask him again. "I dunno," he replies again. This goes on for about three or four cycles until I get a response of some sort that usually doesn't make any sense.

This began to concern me. Was it a communication problem that Logan is having? Is this normal? I asked my friends who are in the same preschool class what their kids are telling them about their days. Some (the girls) report back more detail, but for the most part, I think we're all getting limited details. It's got to be a combination of where they are developmentally and the gender. Specifically, boy speak.

These are the same conversations that I have with Bill as we're hanging out on the couch at the end of the night. One word answers, shoulder shrugs and "I don't know". It's been driving me insane for a very long time, and I think I really began to notice the significant issue around the elections. There are a lot of things I like to talk about, none of which interest Bill in the slightest, and Bill has very few things he likes to talk about - period. More often than not, we sit on the couch and watch TV with our superficial, minimal discussion. With this, a wall grows - a space, a chasm, a distance from being unable to relate. I tend to fill that space with other things and hobbies - blogging, writing about food, MOMS Club, talking to and connecting with people who have the same interests. This leaves Bill behind, almost replaced since I find the missing pieces from others. Marriage is hard and sometimes it sucks.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm asking too much. Is it too much to get simple answers about my son's day? Is it too much to have a conversation with my husband at night? Do I talk a lot, like the stereotypical woman? What about a stereotypical stay-at-home mom? Am I just alone in a house full of testosterone separated by a communication difference of dinosaur growls, single word grunts and shrugs? Because frankly, that's how I'm feeling. Alone in my own home.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

3 dozen cupcakes later

On Sunday we had close to 30 people (including kids) in our house for Carter's first birthday party. I baked three dozen cupcakes, Bill made his cheesy chili dip and there were other snacky-type foods for us to munch on. Logan was really excited to play with his friends, Carter had a blast eating and playing with his friends and it was nice to hang out on our new front room furniture (which Bill doesn't think we'll use, but I do). It was also really nice to look around and see how many people have been apart of Carter's life since he's been born. We're really lucky to have so many friends.

And, in the chaos of it all, I totally forgot to get the camera and take pictures. Bad mom moment!

The difference between Autumn birthday parties and winter birthday parties is dramatic. For Carter, we'll always be able to have a ton of people over and just hang out or enjoy the kids running around in the back yard. With Logan's parties, we'll always either have to limit the amount of people we can cram in our house or find a space big enough to invite everyone. The things you don't think about when family planning...

Carter also had his 1 year check-up last week. He measured 29 inches long (20%), weighed 18 pounds 11 ounces (3%) and his head was 17 3/4 inches (15%). He's a small little guy, but growing just fine and we're not concerned about his low weight percentage (the kids eats everything anyway). He aced the developmental milestone questionnaire, being able to do everything (which is unusual) and he's as healthy as can be. We're at the point now in check-up's where our Pediatrician will ask if we're doing vaccinations that visit, I say no and that's that. It's not even a conversation anymore, just a question. It's nice not having to worry about it any more or continue to think about it.

Carter is walking (and I'm going to get some video soon), taking about 5-8 steps at a time. Watching him toddle around the house is hysterical. He is so freakin cute!! He knows how to climb up and down the stairs so now he can go down into the playroom with Logan. They go down together and do puzzles, read books or go crazy. It's adorable to see how well they get along and now much they like to play together. Plus, it gives me some free time to breath.

I've had to take the kids to the drop-in childcare center about once or twice a week and Carter is doing much better in dealing with the separation. He cries at first, but get's over it quickly. They've been super awesome with him and helping him feel comfortable. Good thing too because I have sessions to train and the kids will need to go there and then the times where I have writing assignments getting backed up, they'll need to hang out there for a few hours. I don't know what I would do without that place.

So, our crazy busy life continues!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

So that's what you call it

I don't know if "old" is the appropriate adjective, but over the last few weeks, possibly months, I've felt it. Or perhaps it's better described as "responsible". I think it may have something to do with being married for so long, living in a house, having two kids - one of which is in school. The days are filled with errands and work (which is taking up a lot more time than I expected), making sure Logan has his homework ready for school, Carter has enough winter clothes and being excited about purchasing new furniture. Maybe that's it - the tell-tale sign that you are "responsible", being excited about an ottoman.

Or maybe it's the new gray hairs I've found in the last two days. That makes me feel "responsible".

Monday, September 21, 2009

A year of Carter

Carter's 1st birthday was on the 12th, a couple of weekends ago. It was a low key, fun day. Bill made a big breakfast, we sat in the living room helping Carter open his presents, had a nice family dinner and then cupcakes afterward. It was simple and sweet.

Now that our family's health is improving; Bill's foot is better, my asthma is getting under control and Logan's ear infection is clearing up - we're going to celebrate Carter's birthday with all of our friends this weekend with a big birthday bash. We have a list of close to 30 people an the RSVP's still aren't all in yet. It's going to be one big celebration!

This year with two boys has been both challenging and amazing. Juggling our schedule and multitasking has had me up in arms many times. However, the love that Logan and Carter have for each other is one of the sweetest bonds I've ever seen. It makes me smile many times throughout the day. I'm sad that Carter is growing so quickly, his first year has been full of cuddles, smiles and pure baby love. I love to kiss him all over, knowing that he won't let me do it for much longer. I will desperately miss this stage of babyhood - which was so much different the second time (probably because I knew what I was doing).

Baby Bean,

You have added such a sweetness to all of our lives and we love you so very much. Your charming personality, your coy smiles and the sparkle in your eyes enables you to make friends wherever you go. Your rowdiness and love for all things Boy makes you the perfect Best Friend with Logan. My heart is so full of love that it overflows into tears of joy.

With more love than I have words for,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Breathing is important, you know.

About three weeks ago our town woke up to smoke filled skies. Visibility was very low, you couldn't see the mountains and really, it was just gross. Apparently, there was something going on with the weather (I don't remember exactly what), but it made the smoke from the California fires, fires in other states and fires in Colorado, all settle into our valley. Nasty.

I had a difficult time breathing, my throat burning and my nose running. I asked Bill if he felt that way, and when he didn't, I thought I was getting a cold. The air in our town cleared up over Labor Day weekend when the wind blew it away (for lack of a better explanation) and the skies were bright and pretty again. My lungs and body were still suffering though.

For weeks I coughed and coughed. It was annoying and it just wouldn't let up. Over the weekend I had to take Logan to the Doctor because he's been coughing too and Sunday morning he woke up crying hysterically because his ear hurt. Another ear infection for the poor kid. At his appointment, the Doctor listened to his lungs and said that we should keep an eye on his breathing because it sounded like he had asthma (something I've been talking to our regular Pediatrician about for a little while). The Doctor asked about our family history and asthma - which is all over the place (again, we passed on crappy genetics). Logan will probably have to have asthma treatments in the next year or so if it doesn't get worse now. And every time he gets sick, it will trigger his asthma. Grrrreeeeaaaat.

And then it hit me. All of this coughing I've been doing? It wasn't a cold. It was asthma. I was diagnosed way back in high school but never kept up with an inhaler. It wasn't bad enough. But with the smoke, the pollen and all of the crud in our air - I was struggling. That night I had a massive coughing fit for half an hour that made me get out of bed so I didn't wake up Bill. That's when I did a google search on asthma and decided that I needed to go to the Doctor for myself.

The next day I could hardly breath. Evey time I talked or even attempted a conversation, I began coughing and struggling to catch my breath. It was getting worse. I haven't been seen by a Doctor other than my OB in YEARS, so I had to find a General Practitioner and now. It wasn't an emergency, but it was bad enough to be very concerned. I got a recommendation from one of the moms in MOMS Club and made an appointment to be seen in a few short hours.

After being hooked up to a nebulizer, I was prescribed three different medications - One rescue inhaler to use every 4 hours or when I can't breath, another inhaler to use twice a day and Singulair to take at night. The good news is that I only have to take these medications for a month and not the rest of my life. Hopefully I'll be able to get back to where I was before the air quality changed and my lung health spiraled out of control. The bonus from the visit was that the Doctor asked for my business card so she could send one of her patients to me for a personal training evaluation (this made me laugh. And cough).

So, with inhalers in hand - I'm on my way to better breathing and not suffocating in front of my kids.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Totally saved the day

Over the last few days (almost week now), I've been taking care of everything in the house. Taking care of the boys, taking care of Bill, taking care of the chores and everything in between. However, I have not been taking care of the computer issues. Bill has done that and saved the day.

Carter has his first birthday on Saturday. As usual, I was preparing to post his first year/birthday montage, complete with cheesy music that makes me cry. The computer started to act funky and had re-started itself a few times. Not too much later, I was contacted about a writing assignment for our city and started working on that too. Then, just as I was getting elbow deep in work - the entire system crashed. And? We had not backed up our files in a long time.

The next day I bought a new hard drive and Bill was going to try and recover our lost files. With pain still throbbing in his foot, wrapped up and on crutches, he fixed our computer, made it even better and recovered all of our files. The pictures I was using for the montage, the writing assignment, my personal training files - all of it. SAVED. YEA!

Now that wonder boy, computer genius saved the computer, my writing assignment has been sent in for publication tomorrow - I'll be able to get back to work on Carter's montage and FINALLY celebrate his first birthday here on the blog.