Tuesday, November 08, 2011

True Image




A sweet friend of mine at Sarah Thompson Photography took these pictures (and more) of our kids a few weeks ago.  It was a really warm day and I just got them in some clean play clothes and ran.  Claire and Finn threw pretty spectacular fits in the van on the way there, and I could not convince Duncan to wear shoes other than the hand-me-down cowboy boots he got from a neighbor.    And these might be my favorite pictures ever.  Especially that shot of Duncan.  There are 21 in all, and I am going to have a super time creating a Christmas card this year. 

Monday, October 10, 2011


I'm going to be really honest about something.  The term "best friend" kind of bugs me.  As a child, it certainly didn't.  I had several!  Robin, from Day 1.  We were inseparable.  When I moved away at age 6, we stayed very close.  We moved back to Texas after 8th grade, and once again, Robin and I fell right back into our friendship even though we went to different high schools.  Best friends once again, and then college room mates and room mates again after she finished law school.  Now living in Chicago, I still love her deeply and wish I could see her all the time.

However, during those years I also had Gina, currently living in Manhattan and still one of my closest and dearest even though we hardly get a chance to talk or see each other.  Angela.  We went to high school together and were also "best friends."  And while we lived in New Jersey, I had Sue.  Also, a bestie.  See, things are already getting confusing.

Now, though, in my adult hood I have a growing disdain for the term.  I know, I have issues.  But truly, I have so many wonderful and amazing friends.  Wish I could think of a word other than amazing.  Great.  Honorable.  Kind.  Loyal.  Funny.  Remarkable.  A few have proven themselves to be in-the-trenches-loyal-to-the-bone and I know the minute I got the call that something horrible had happened they would immediately be at my side.  Some I have had for 45 years and some for a fraction of that time...but I could not say that any one of them is the best.  That would mean that others are not the best!  Why does this bug me?  I'm not completely sure but it does.

Instead of giving them labels, they just are.  Some I see more often than others, some live far away, but all are great and so very important to me.  I just don't think if someone said, "who is your best friend?" I could come up with a good answer.

Just a Regular Day

Well, here we are...ten years later.  The place I wanted to be.  All of this is really effed up, you know because you can't get your head around it.  If Z had lived, we most likely would not have had the life we have now...our path would have been different and I simply cannot imagine not having this life.  See?  Effed up.  So we kind of walk away from those kinds of thoughts.  They are not productive and get us nowhere.

While today isn't really like any other day, for the most part it will have to be!  Iain is in Seattle and Duncan is out of school so the chaos of all three of them at home (for the third day in a row!  with one more to go! gee willikers!) takes over.  I had thought about taking all of them to the zoo but a clearer head prevailed this morning and think maybe the local library and Chick Fil A will do.  Maybe we will Christen my new Kichen Aid?  Make Aunt Becky a birthday card?  It's kind of rainy and cloudy so indoor fun is best.  Right now the boys have every blanket and pillow on Finn's bed and are pretending it's their ship and the carpet is the water.  They have kidnapped Claire's teddy bear and just told her the bad news that her bear has been shredded up by Finn (a shark) in the ocean.  That's pretty good.

Happy Birthday Z.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Gosh I love this kid. He is a baseball freak. Loves it. And it's really fun to watch him love it. We are playing coach pitch this fall with the same team from last spring. Games are a bit of a drive but Claire and Finn have fun running around and they are big enough now that I can relax a bit and just let them. Tonight, the weather was spectacular and it was just a super night.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ten Years

I remember sitting in a chair in our living room, facing the window, across from Iain and my mom.  The words "I just want it to be ten years from now" coming out of my mouth.  I am pretty sure I was not thinking that everything would be fine in ten years...probably just that I did not want it to be now.  Because now was so brutal and horrific that it felt like it would take me ten years to move an inch from that place.  I also remember saying that I was pretty sure I would never feel joy again.

So, voila!  Here I am.  Ten years later.  It's such a difficult thing, to try to figure out how I feel vs. how I thought I would feel.  In some respects, life is so much better than I ever thought it would be and in some respects it is no different.  That feeling of grief for your child just never goes away.  No matter how fast you try to outrun it, you never can.  I can so easily drum up those feelings that I felt in those first weeks and months after he died but most times I dare not.  Sometimes I do, though.  It feels necessary.  I don't find it necessary to visit where he is laid to rest, so maybe this is my "visit the cemetery." 

It's hard not to stare it right in the face...this ten year anniversary.  But, where I am now is very, very good.  It is very, very bright and wonderful and full of wonder.  I dare not entertain anyone who starts to go down the "if he hadn't died" road, indicating we would not have the children we do have...the living, breathing ones.  That is something that not only will we never know, but it does not matter.  None of the what if's matter.  Learned that lesson the hard way, huh?  He did die.  And we do have these living, breathing children.  No platitudes necessary.  And speaking of these children, somehow it has all worked out just the way it was supposed to.  God sent them to us just as he sent us Ziggy...I do know that for sure.  Some day I might have answers, and I might not, but that doesn't really matter to me anymore either.  

I like to think that I no longer have one foot in the grave, longing to be with my dead child.  I no longer dwell on the fact that he is dead.  I no longer define myself by his death.  That is what ten years does.  But that's about where it ends.  He is still as important and as real, but even more important and more real are the three that followed.  

Monday, September 05, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Duncan started first grade this week. I am both shocked and thrilled about this. When we bought this house in May, we bought it mainly because the door that he would exit every day after school is visible from my kitchen window and my front door.

See that hallway in the background? That third window from the end? That's his class. And the window in the foreground? I rest my case. So, when the ink was not yet dry on the papers, we went over to the school to get him registered. And were told that first grade was full for next year, thus he was on a wait list for a spot. No, no, no...I know what you are thinking. It's not a private school! It's our neighborhood public school. After the feeling that I was going to vomit had passed, I immediately scoured the web for possible solutions. After all, when feeling totally out of control there is certainly something you can find on the internet that will help you feel like you have something you can do. Read all the rules and regulations and whatnot and it was a fairly grim outlook. Basically, if no one moved or otherwise gave up their spot, we would be sent to an overflow school of unknown location. Over the next six weeks we visited the new school, called the district, waited for the new principal to come on board and looked at every possible outcome.

Once everyone was back in their offices in late July we pounced on them again, to meet the new principal and hope our options had improved. We were told that they might get a waiver allowing more than 22 students in the class, and if Duncan was #1 or #2 on the list then he would have a spot. Lots of vaguery. So then I did what any other totally panicky momma bear would do and I started calling in favors and leaving messages for people at the Superintendent's office. Lo and behold just a week later they called us, assuring us that Duncan does indeed have a spot.

Drop off yesterday went off splendidly...a real 180 from last year. Two days in and we are going strong. No tears, no "I don't want to go to school"...nothing. All enthusiasm. Hooray!!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

How is summer almost over? How does he start first grade in three weeks? Summer starts off fun and great and exciting then lags a bit, but towards the end I always want it to last just a bit longer. Seems like there are just a few more things that I want to do that I know we wont have time for. I start to pine for time that is not yet lost, not yet over. While I do enjoy the routine and structure of fall, with school and Wednesday night church, it is not without its headaches of homework and waking up in time to brush teeth and get dressed and making sure the right clothes are clean. I think there are times this summer when Duncan wore the same Beatles tee shirt for at least four days in a row. And no one noticed. This summer we didn't take any grand vacations and Duncan only did one week of day camp, so almost the entire time was spent at home or someplace close by, hanging out...swimming...watching cartoons...playing. I know I'll miss that.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 29, 2011

In with the new

Duncan's bike and scooter got stolen last week so we at least replaced the bike. We went up a size, but it fits him great and even though he seemed to be viscerally attached to his old (and first) bike, he loves the new one. Oh and that school in the background? Yes, that is the school he should go to in a few weeks. See how close it is? I can see the door he will/would come out of from my front door. More on that later.
Posted by Picasa

Please ignore the unmowed grass in the background. And the ugly dead shrubs. We've had record heat, you know. But as for the focus of these pictures, this boy Finn. He is changing quickly and becoming a friendly, sweet, eager to please child. He is the first to give a hug and a kiss to those he loves and to narrate the events of the day. He lights up (see bottom photo) when he sees Duncan come into view. He has the potential to be our only late sleeper, but is rarely given the chance due to early risers #1 and #2. He loves books, trains, trucks, tractors, M&M's, raw carrots and apples. He is not interested in cake, pizza, hot dogs, spaghetti, hamburgers, bread of any kind, or tortillas. Will quickly say "no like it." He will eat numerous ice cream sandwiches, though. We love you Finn!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Several times a day, I find Claire on something...a counter top, a table, etc...and often times she has a glass or cup and water is involved. I am trying to find ways to channel this curiosity for good.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Playing with my new toy. Love that we've upgraded our camera and now need to learn to use it! Day twenty million of over 100 degree heat in Texas so the only way to tolerate the swingset is with the water hose! Everyone loves it. Summer going way too fast, but looking forward to the routine and rhythm of fall.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I am trying to stay rational and not get overly emotional but today is the last day in our house (and technically it's not even ours anymore!) and tomorrow is Duncan's last day of kindergarten. Sniff.
Traditionally, I do not handle change well. I do not handle things coming to and end well, nor do I handle saying good bye very easily. Even you, crappy old dishwasher. But big, mature trees...I shall miss you most of all.

Today will be a full day. Iain is running stuff out to the dump so that we don't leave any trash for the new owners. I am washing final (ha! will have access to my new washing machine like, tomorrow, but still...it feels so FINAL) loads of laundry, packing up the few dishes we kept unpacked to use, and being amazed at how much stuff we still have to pack. I also need to order cupcakes for Duncan's last day of kinder/birthday celebration, and we have to replace the hall closet door because of this:
We have measured our children in a messy, willy nilly way, but measured them none the less. I know I could take the measurements and start a new door but for some reason I want to take this one. So, Iain, being the great husband, is going to try to get a new door today and replace it...because he has nothing better to do.

Moving van comes first thing in the morning, and they will also come pick up the PODS. Then **poof** the house will be empty. I suppose I will bring Duncan by after school tomorrow, to say good bye. Choke.

But really, I am super excited about our new house. More about that later!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Last Saturday on Saxon Street.

Today is the last Saturday in our current home. We've been here about 11 and a half years, so that's about 650 Saturdays, give or take a few. The first Saturdays were just Iain and me, probably working in the yard, sleeping late, going to movies and me cooking really nice dinners with food from Central Market. Oh, we also drank alot of wine and kept a spreadsheet of what we drank, the price, how we liked it, etc...oh the life.

Then, in 2001 our Saturdays were initially all about trying to have a baby through intense medical intervention and how we'd pay for it. Then pregnancy! A great portion of 2001 were pregnant Saturdays, full of hope and joy and baby showers. Then Saturdays in 2001 were about death and grief and sorrow. Those were the darkest Saturdays of all. Excruciating. They seemed endless and only nightfall brought some relief.

Those Saturdays lasted a long time. I don't have alot of memories of how we filled our days for a few years, but we slowly emerged back into a life.

In about 2004, Saturdays become good and great again. Hope was involved. Iain started an MBA program and was gone for two Saturdays a month, and once again, pregnancy! Those Saturdays that Iain was gone were hard at first, but after a bit became a bit of a little treasure. While pregnant with Duncan is was some nice alone time for me. Total freedom! Little did I know how special that alone time would be. Iain would have to leave for class on Friday night, and would not be home until Saturday night. Wow, while I would not trade for that again it sure does seem particularly lovely now. Once Duncan was born those Saturdays changed but were still okay. I am sure it seemed really difficult with a newborn but seriously. It was ONE baby. My mom and sister were living back in town at this point so Saturdays became alot about family time with a new baby.

Those were mostly very good Saturdays! Although, at the time, they could seem long and lonely. Not alot of structure with newborns. Alot of moment to moment existence and alot of that nice freedom gone. Poof! But still, looking back....one baby!

Once Claire and Finn came along, Saturdays got a little more hectic. At first, they were just a blur. Iain and I running on very little sleep, one kid stops napping and two babies sleeping in the dining room (for four months.) I honestly don't know how we did it, but we did. So now, Claire and Finn are two and a half, and Duncan is almost six and our Saturdays have a fairly nice rhythm. Certainly easier than it has been in years. They are all old enough to go in the back yard and keep themselves busy, or play in their rooms...but seem most content when they are in the same room as Iain and me. Sometimes I think the size of our house would have no bearing on how many children we would have underfoot. They just like to be with us. So we hang out, play tee ball, swing high, have cheetah runs, play basketball, chat with neighbors, eat, climb, scream, laugh, and get through our Saturdays on Saxon Street.

Today was a crazy one...this last Saturday. Packing with all three of them under foot is challenging. Claire loves to put things in boxes and carry things around, so she undoes alot of what I have just done. Duncan seems a bit anxious about it all and wants to know where his things are...I inadvertently packed his baseball pants and he had to wear shorts to his game today. It caused him some initial stress. Finn just runs around with cars. As long as he has those, he is unfazed. We got them all cleaned (well 2 out of 3), fed, and to bed and will close the chapter on this routine of our lives. To start anew next Saturday.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pack, rats!

So, here is how I pack.

Feel inspired. Tape one box together. Walk around in stupor for ten - twenty minutes trying to figure out what to put in box. Finally decide. Fill box. Feel proud. Then feel overwhelmed. Go sit. Stare at house. Walk from room to room examining how much stuff is still left. Make no plan. Tend to children's needs. Check email. Brush hair. Pace. Try to decide whether or not to have another cup of coffee. Wash hands. Look for reading glasses. Find newspaper and read Arts & Life section to confirm new Johnny Depp movie is not worth the babysitting money. Disassemble twins high chairs to find unspeakable things on the underside of seat. Throw seat covers in washing machine, on sanitize, and stand in awe of wonderful washing machine that is soon to belong to mother and sister because previous owner is leaving me her Whirlpool Duet Sport. Am bounced back to reality that we are moving in less than two weeks and need to pack. Repeat.

Monday, May 02, 2011

A Moving Experience

So, we have sold our house, and apparently bought a new one! We are moving! In just under four weeks. I am very excited, and very overwhelmed. May was busy, as it was. But now, we must pack and do everything else that is involved in moving all of our worldly goods to another location, along with three small children. Things that are keeping me up at night include:
  • When do we dismantle and move the cribs? We can move our things into the new house on June 2nd, and must be out of our current home by midnight on June 3rd. Do we save the cribs for last? Do them first? My head. It swims.
  • Where do we sleep on June 2nd? Current house? New house? Must have all beds in one place.
  • Duncan's last day of school is also June 2nd! That just adds to the mix somehow.
  • Okay, so my list is not as long as I thought it would be.
We had a small garage sale today, got rid of some stuff and made about $100. Not enough to buy the camera that I want but enough to justify some Thai food perhaps. Gratefully, our parents all came to help with the kids and it really was kind of fun. We have about two weeks until we close on both houses, then about three more days until we have to be out of here. Sometimes I just sit and stare at all the stuff and overwhelm myself.

Should I move the twins into big girl and big boy beds when we move? See, more questions.

Should we keep the twins in the same room or put the boys together?


I am also trying to eat from the pantry and freezer. I would really like to eat up what we've got and not either throw away or move frozen food and canned goods. Things might get rather creative around here for the next two weeks or so! Tonight I did pretty good. I made a homemade pasta sauce with a can of organic tomatoes, oregano, garlic, basil. Yummy. Cooked up some frozen tortellini. Used a can of Pillsbury pizza dough and made a kind of ghetto version of bruschetta but it was good. Let me tell you. Oh, and the 8 green beans that I picked from our garden! We can each have one, then three lucky folks get an extra. Feeding my family.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Game On!



Oh, we love tee ball.  We love, love, love it!  Everyone goes and everyone has fun.  Today, my heart almost burst when Duncan was awarded the game ball.  I know coach is most likely picking one kid a week at random, cuz they all play their little hearts out, but it does make you swell a bit.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

House Love

So, it appears we have sold our house. We are out of the option period, and are not set to close until May 31 which is both good and bad. The offer came very quickly (2 days) and so far all has gone well. It is a buyer's market so much to Iain's dismay there was not much bargaining and gaming to be done but the offer was fair and we accepted. I have many very mixed emotions. This house...well, we love this house. There are so many really good things about this house that I try to put into words but sometimes fail. But I'm going to try again.

  • When I am lying on the big, comfy green couch that was a hand me down from my sister, and it's the middle of the day, and the lights are off, and the wood blinds are half-way down on the big picture window nearby, and the ceiling fan is on it's just one of those perfect moments. I can't even say why. Everything just seems right. I think it has to do with my childhood and being on the back screened-in porch at my grandparents' farm, on an old twin bed, with a fan on and windows open, hearing the trains go by and the cows mooing in the pasture. That memory is one of my greatest happy places, and the feeling I get on the green couch is similiar.

  • Six (of our ten) windows look out onto green. We are on a corner lot, facing a green belt. Only one window looks onto a neighbors house, and it's a small one over the washing machine. The others face front, with neighbors across the street and all the trees in between. I love it. I have to have big trees to be happy.

  • There are only two doors into this house. Front and back. When Iain is out of town, I feel confident that I can hear anything that might be weird like boogie men. Not there there has ever been a boogie man, but if there were I would hear him coming. I have a hard time being a grown up in these instances.

  • Our neighbors are great. The least of these are a bit nutty and weird, but (I assume) harmless. Everyone else is fantastic and we will miss them.

  • Our house is so small that in case of fire (or above-mentioned boogie man) I could get them and escape quickly. I lie in bed at night and obsess about this.

This was our first home together, and we have been here since January 2000. I have loved, loved, loved this house. But soon, I shall blog about all that drives me crazy about it. That will make it easier to leave.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Break 2010

While I cannot say I am sorry to see it go all together, I am kind of glad. I love having Duncan home with me, but like the rhythm and routine of the school week. It was a demanding week, but not in any way a bad one.

Monday - I took Duncan to meet up with two of his favorite cousins to play at Ellen's out in Cedar Hill. He hardly looked back or waited for the van to come to a complete stop when I dropped him off. Claire and Finn and I went back to my sister's for a bit, then went to go pick up Duncan at about dinner time and came on home. Iain was still here, and got to spend some time with Duncan before bed.

Tuesday - Iain left early. What did the kids and I do? I honestly can't remember. I am sitting here trying to, but can't. This is not good. Surely we did something. Oh yes. Okay, it's all coming back to me. Duncan went to the Dallas Zoo for their spring break zoo camp with some friends. I dropped him off at about 8:45, so that my friend could drive them all down there, then came home with Claire and Finn. The three of us did nothing remarkable or exciting. By 3:15 it was time to head down to the zoo to pick up Duncan and his two buddies and deliver them to their parents. Got three kids in my way back seat (hurrah!) and got everyone home safely. This is where things go south for a bit. Duncan told me his tummy hurt after he ate and before he went to bed. You know how you have those little red flags that go up, but at the time you just wish them away/ignore them? And then later in retrospect, you realize how it was not a little red flag after all but was a HUGE RED FLAG? Yes, me too. I put him to bed, knowing how tired he was from the zoo. Then around 11:30 I heard the puking. It was all over the bedding and him, so I go into crisis mode. Get him to the potty, quickly. Get him a wet wash cloth (cuz that's what my mom always did), then strip the bed and get some clean makeshift bedding on there. Get him back in the bed, get him a "recepticle", put 1/2 the puke bedding on the front porch (thinking clearly? maybe not....but let's go with it) and get some of it in the washing machine. Say a little prayer of gratitude for my sanitize cycle. We had two more brief episodes of sick during the night. No one got much sleep.

Wednesday - Slow day. Duncan stayed on the couch most of the day and I spent most of it praying I would not get sick. No one else did. Everyone went to bed early.

Thursday - Everyone feels good! I had a woman coming over to help me stage the house to get it ready to sell. She came in and started rearranging furniture and telling me what to do. It was for the most part really helpful and when she left I felt totally drained and overwhelmed, but the house looked great and I knew what was on my to do list. Among other things, no pillow cases - only shams. Bigger is better. Prospective buyers do not look to see clocks. Apparently, finding out what time it is can be a shock. Hurried her out the door after her hour was up and got everyone down for some rest time. Reatlor came at 2:00 and left me feeling even more drained and overwhelmed. After she left, packed all the kids in the van and went to the park. That lasted about an hour, and it was really hot. Came home, ate, bathed kids and again put them all to bed. Exhausted. Drained. But still not vomiting!! Hurray!

Friday - Another big day for Duncan! Poor Finn and Claire. Just riding in the van with mom. We left for Duncanville early, and met my cousin Donna (who had taken all the boys on Monday, too) at a park. Left D with her, and went to my sister's to wait out the morning. I knew the twins would not nap at her house, so when it was time to go pick up D after lunch, I just packed them in the van and we all came back home. I was so grateful that they did not fall asleep on the way home. And even more grateful that they went down for a half decent nap when we did get home, around 2:00. Rest of the evening...not too exciting, but fun. Outside, play, bed.

All of a sudden am feeling like I've got a cold and am really tired! Oh no! Must go to bed. Pics tomorrow!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Toto, we're not at Elizabeth Arden Anymore

Today I went to King Spa with a gift certificate that Iain got me for my birthday. I will preface this post by saying there was alot of naked nakedness. If you think, "I wonder if she was naked during that", chances are I was. Am I'm okay with that. Not that any of you sit around wondering about my nakedness, but I think it's pertitent to the story. And then we shall never speak of it again.

I started out my morning with a great new haircut. You know how it always looks extra good when your stylist blows it out? Yeah, that lasted about an hour and a half. After my hair cut I went straight to the spa. I drove under the giraffe gate (there are three giant giraffes on top of the gate that you drive through to get there), parked my minivan and walked in. Very clean, very pretty. Very friendly staff. They gave me a key on a wrist thingie, told me to take off my shoes, grab a pair of pink shorts and tee shirt and go to the ladies' locker room. Once in there, another very nice lady showed me my locker for my shoes and another bigger locker for my clothes. She then brought me a large towel, and told me they are free the first time but after today would cost me $2. I did not see anyone else with a big towel. Most of the ladies in there were Korean, but there was a group of women that I guessed were mommy friends having a day to themselves, all in their pink shorts and tee shirts, leaving the wet area as I was arriving. As soon as I was "ready" I was told to go into the wet sauna area and to shower before I did anything else. I walked through two large frosted glass doors into a very large room that had at least 30 showers, all with soap and shampoo, three large hot tubs of varying degrees, a cold pool, a more traditional wet sauna, and a row of pink massage tables behind some frost glass partitions with images of Homer and Marge Simpson on them. I kid you not. At this point, many thoughts are going through my head but mostly, "go with it." So I did. I got into the least hot of the hot tubs and was the only one in there. It was not very crowded and most of the ladies kept to themselves doing whatever.

I had about 45 minutes until my body scrub and massage so I soaked for a bit longer then put on my pink outfit and left the safety of the ladies locker room and explored the common areas. There was a place to eat, and many rooms that were different saunas with different types of walls (amethyst, gold, other minerals, salt, etc...) Really interesting. I sat and read my Living Oprah book until it was time for my body scrub. My great friend Marjorie has gone to King Spa before. She is half Korean, and has gone with her mom for these body scrubs so I had some idea of what was coming. I got on one of the pink tables behind the Simpson wall, while an older Korean lady in leopard underwear (seriously) started scrubbing my skin with these mitts made of some kind of silk which felt like sandpaper. It didn't hurt...and actually felt really good. Every once in a while she would douse me with a bucket of hot water, to wash off the dead skin that was quickly accumulating on the table. I only opened my eyes every once in a while, for many reasons, but when I did was immediately sorry because I would catch a glimpse of what she was sloughing off. This body scrub is not for the modest. I've never had anything waxed, but I imagine it's a similar experience. And that's all we'll say about that.

The scrub lasted about thirty minutes. I was then told to shower and given some Olay body wash to use. Leopard Mama cleaned the table and got it ready for my Korean massage. Marjorie told me she thought they would go easy on my since I am a blonde haired white chick, but I'm not so sure. She pounded on me like a piece of chicken. Or cube steak. At one point, I thought, "is she mad at me? Did I not use the Olay wash correctly?" Then, while I was lying on my stomach, I realized she had climbed up on the table and was standing on the soles of my feet. Kind of jumping, kind of stomping. I also should add that all of the pounding and kneading was done with hot towels. She would put a hot towel on my back, and pound/knead my back. Same for arms, legs, etc..

This lasted an hour and I have to tell you, when it was all over it was amazing. I don't know if I've ever felt that relaxed. I showered, got dressed, got my shoes, turned in my key and drove off, basking in the glow of my King Spa experience. If you have an adventurous side, I would highly suggest it!

Friday, February 18, 2011

To Infiniti and beyond!

Today did not start out so great. Finn has been feverish off and on since Wednesday night. He woke up at 4:30 this morning, screaming and pretty hot to the touch. I put him in bed with me, but neither of us really ever fell back asleep until I finally put him back in his own bed around 5:30, when he and Claire both decided to cry for an undetermined amount of time. I know that Duncan was awake at this point and it all starts to get foggy. Somehow, I got Duncan to school on time and he was in relatively good spirits. He got to wear his new Good Citizen tee shirt, so maybe that had something to do with it. And it was his day to bring snacks.

I knew Finn was not feeling well, and Claire had not slept well but we had things to do. Like sell our old Infiniti at Car Max. I must also add that this was a MOPS day. I rarely miss MOPS. But today, with Finn's fever I knew I could not bring him so we had to miss which put me in a grouchy mood to begin with. I will try to make the Car Max saga brief, but cannot leave out many details or the whole story loses something.

Our Infiniti is '98. It has 135K miles on it. We bought it right after Ziggy died, almost ten years ago and it's been a good car. I drove it for years, then at some point it became Iain's car. It needed some work and some cash put into it at this point. We were talking about putting money into it when my sister decided to sell her '00 Acura. Bam. We decided to buy my sister's car for Iain for not much more than we were going to put into the Infiniti, and the Acura is a MUCH better car and only has 85K miles on it! Win win!

My sister came to our house Tuesday night to see Duncan get his award at school (Good Citzen! Yay!) and brought the Acura. She and Iain headed to Car Max afterward to sell the Infiniti and she would leave the Acura with us. First roadblock. I am also on the title and since I was not present, they could not sell it. Plan B. Iain will keep the Acura and drive it to the airport Wednesday. Becky took the Infiniti home and will meet me at Car Max on Thursday and we will get the deal done. Iain signs a Power of Attorney at Car Max, notarized, so he will not also have to be present and I can sign for him. **foreshadowing**

Thursday after school, I drove to Car Max to meet my sister. Did I mention I could not find my driver's license? Because I could not. So I grabbed my birth certificate and said a prayer and went to a car dealership with all three of my children in the afternoon. Claire in her pink shiny nightgown, because she refused to take it off. In a genius move, Car Max put play areas in their show rooms. My sister stayed with the kids in what is not unlike a McDonald's play place while I went back to the business office to seal the deal! Oh, I am sorry Mrs. Michie, you must have a government issued photo ID.

Okay, Plan C. There is a DPS not five minutes from Car Max! It's only 3:30 so I can easily hurry over there, get a new license (I even have my birth certificate!) and be back in time to sell the Infiniti so I can pay my sister so she can go pay for her new car that she has already sealed the deal on. I drive speedily but safely to the DPS and see "SORRY! WE HAD A BUSTED WATER PIPE AND FLOODED! YOU WILL HAVE TO DRIVE ACROSS HELL'S HALF ACRE TO GET A NEW LICENSE". I laugh. I cry. I call my sister. We forge Plan D. I go back to Car Max, leave the Infiniti and we all pile in the minivan and drive to the complete other side of Dallas where they drop me off at DPS and my sister takes my now three hungry, cranky children to a drive thru while I fill out my form and get my picture taken. Oh, and they don't let you wear your baseball cap in your driver's license photo even if you haven't washed your hair in three days. Becky and the kids come get me just as Iain calls. He is nervous about me leaving the Infiniti in the lot but OH MY GAWD I can't go back there again with all these children tonight. Really, truly, I cannot. We go to my mom's and shake off the afternoon with pizza, animal crackers, and Bailey's on the rocks.

Fast forward to today. Armed with my brand new driver's license I marched my snotty-nosed, feverish, cranky twins into Car Max (or Car's Max as Finn calls it...it's fun! It has cars! And a play area!) ready to sell this dad gum car. After about a 45 minute wait, one bag of Skittles, 1 bag of Lay's and 1 bag of cookies (for them, not me) they called me over with this "don't be pissed at us!" look. Turns out that back in September when the emissions test was done some genius tech entered the mileage as 165K instead of 135K so now there is a 30K mile discrepancy between "the records" and the odometer. I do not know who holds "the records" only that Car's Max depends on them. The look on my face, and the howls from my now over-the-top impatient two and a half year old twins was enough for them to call for someone from another department to come over, look at everything and give me his stamp of approval for a sale. Blah, blah, blah...type, type, type...wait, wait, wait...okay, Mrs. Schmitchy, all we need is your husband's driver's license! SCREEEEEECH. What? At this point, I considered my options of jumping over the counter and typing the check myself, calling Iain in California, or falling to the floor like Finn and Claire were about to do. Instead I turned into Agressive Mommy of Toddlers and in my best sarcastic voice asked why they had my husband execute the power of attorney without getting his driver's license, knowing he would not be there to complete the sale with me? Or something like that. I also think the tears forming in my eyeballs helped, and they agreed to let Iain fax them a copy.

And that's all it takes to sell a car at Car's Max!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Running vs. Parenting

Okay, so I'm brand new at this running thing. But, I am also kind of proud of myself for not quitting yet. I started the day after my 45th birthday, September 28th, with the couch to 5K program and am now doing the bridge to 10K. That being said, I have not moved beyond a 5K but can run it fairly comfortably. And, as hard as it is to get started, once I get going I really like the way it makes me feel. It can be grueling at times, and seems like there is no way I can get through it but somehow something kicks in and I stick with it and in the end feel pretty good about myself.

Not unlike parenting. Well, parenting preschoolers as far as I know. I suppose they both fall under the "anything worth doing is worth doing well" category and the "no one said life is easy" category. Both feel like real accomplishments. Both are good for me. Both have intrinsic value.

I have never been a good exerciser. Much less running. I would see people running and think to myself, "I just don't get it. It looks awful and boring and I don't see how anyone could find that enjoyable." What I did not know was what happens when you run. It's not just putting one foot in front of the other and pounding the pavement. For me, the first ten minutes are pretty bad. I think there is no way I can finish (I know, it's a helpful way to think!) but after those first ten minutes very interesting things start to happen. I start to have interesting streams of thought, I feel burst of energy (periodically) where I find myself pushing myself much harder than I did last time I ran. People use the term "runner's high" and while I don't quite feel high, I do feel changes in my mood, outlook, energy and a certain clarity of mind where there previously was fog. It's great. And I am really loving it.

It's also hard, and an uphill battle and something that I am working daily on mastering...much like parenting. Knowing I will not ever truly master either endeavor, both of them help me with the other. Running seems to make me a better parent and I'm hoping that in some way parenting will help make me a better runner.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Generating Generosity

My sister just gave us the bedroom furniture that she was using in her guest room (she has right of first refusal if we ever decide to get something else) . I think it is beautiful and am so happy to have matching bedroom furniture for the first time since we've been married (13 years!). I feel very grown up and kind of rich. My sister bought the furniture when I was in high school in the early 80's. It's solid wood, and very high quality but hardly new. I love it.
My friend Marjorie gave me, a few years ago, her old patio furniture that she just didn't feel like fit her patio any more. We had been using some old folding chairs and the set she gave me, a settee, two chairs, and a table, with cushions, is really nice. We have used it and enjoyed it tremendously for years! I am sure when she bought it, she paid for for it than I would have been able to and it has allowed me to be proud to have friends over and sit outside. I love it.
My cousin Linda, earlier this fall, gave us a playset that her twin girls have outgrown. I remember very clearly the first time Duncan went to their house and played on it and how he loved it. We had been using an old metal swingset that we bought on Craigslist a few years ago, which was fine, but he was outgrowing it quickly. This set is something they can all three play on for many years and again, it makes me proud to have friends over to play and is so wonderful to sit outside with our children while they enjoy it. I love it.
So today, as I sat outside and realized how many people have given us so many things...a beautiful toy horse for Claire, clothes for our kids, just so much...and how good it makes me feel. And I realized that it really does feel good to give. I have also tried to up my giving to others. I have beautiful, useful, perfectly fine things that I can pass along as well and hopefull create those feelings in someone else. It's a much better feeling than to try to sell it on Ebay or on Craiglist for a fraction. It feels good to create wealth, so to speak. To hopefully make other people feel good. Just like the feelings I have when getting new bedroom furniture, or a playset or patio furniture. Having others be generous with me has shown me how to in turn be generous with others and I love it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Unexpected gifts

Ahhhh. All of the children are sleeping soundly. It is very very cold. Iain is out of town. And tomorrow is Day 3 of no school because of ice. To say I am wiped is an understatement. I have not left the house since I picked up Duncan from school on Monday at 3:00. So, we are going on 72 hours of togetherness. A common theme I have noticed, among my mom friends, on Facebook and blogs is chatting about being home with our kids and having no where to go. But, not really in a bad way. It is hard to be at home with young children. They can be very draining. You do not have any time to turn it off. You are always on as mom. If I want to go to the bathroom, by myself, I either have to go quickly before one of them can catch me and follow me in or risk one, two or three of them following me in there. Once in there, they all start to wreak havoc in different ways. Going for the toothbrushes, wanting the toilet paper, getting in the shower, etc..and that's just the tip of the iceberg. So, three solid days alone with them with no backup (hubs is traveling...ice on the roads...home-bound) is a little scary. Fortunately, it's come one day at a time instead of someone saying, "hey, the roads are going to be really icy and you are going to be home with your kids for three days!"

However comma, I have been struck by what a gift these days have been. I know that there will come a time when Duncan, and Claire and Finn, are old enough that they don't want to hang out with me and have dance parties, or lie on the couch under a blanket and watch movies, or have pretend birthday parties. They will not hang on my every word, and my every movement. This, the way things are right now, will pass. I do not want to look back and wish I'd slowed down and done things differently.

So being home with no where to go has forced us to slow our pace. We aren't a terribly fast-paced family to begin with. We don't (currently) do any outside activities besides church...no sports, no lessons. If it's a weekend, we are usually at home if we aren't spending it with family. But during the week, we do go to the Y and perhaps friends homes or the park if the weather is good. But this week? Nuthin. And it's been good. It's been a gift.

Even when it's not your birthday, it's fun to pretend that it is and eat a cup of frosting...especially when you've been snowed in for two days going on three.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When you have bad allergies, and bad eczema, it's good to roll around in wood chips.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Toothy Pegs

Lost two in one day! That one you see kind of dangling? Yep, it came out later that same day.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This is the face of the child that is currently making me laugh the hardest.
Posted by Picasa

Weekend Recap

Boy, this was a great weekend. They aren't all this way. We've had our share of, "We're glad that's over" weekends. But this one was pretty great.

Iain came home on Thursday night instead of Friday, so we had a good running start. Nothing terribly exciting or eventful on Friday, but it was relaxed and easy which was good. I took the babies to a playdate and church and then we went to Chick Fil A for lunch with friends. Saturday was cold, rainy and dreary but we got some things done, napped and then had plans for game night with friends. My sister came over to watch the babies and we took Duncan with us. It was a great night with good friends, even though Duncan got to bed terribly late (for him) and had a couple of night terrors after we got him into bed. And night terrors? Are freaky. He sits straight up, trembles, is sweaty, rambles on and on, but is inconsoleable and does not respond to us unless it is a firm, direct order to lie down or put his head down. I was up alot with him over night and was totally done by Sunday morning...another cold, wet day. We stayed home from church, and I did my best to make it to 11:30 when Iain took Duncan to ride the train and to lunch and Claire and Finn went down for a nap. And so did I. I made something for dinner and all little children went to bed early so Mommy didn't die of exhaustion.

On Monday, Iain was off work and Duncan was off school so we packed them all up and hauled them to Fair Park to the Children's Aquarium. Fun! Sharks! Horseshoe crabs! Sea turtles! Finn loved it. Could not stand still and ran around from tank to tank yelling, "Daddy! Come here! Fish!" As soon as Claire realized there were alligators, she wanted nothing to do with any of it. We walked out of the park just in time to catch the MLK Day parade coming down the boulevard and into Fair Park. It was one of those really great family moments. Everyone was happy, having a good time and it was a real unexpected surprise. We got them all home, fed, then Iain took Duncan ice skating and I put Claire and Finn down for a nap. We had a tiny hiccup when Claire puked but it was just one of those quirky kid pukes where they never puke again and seem to feel fine. I bathed her and put her back to bed and she fell right back asleep.

After Iain and Duncan got home, and the babies woke up, I took them out to see my mom and sister for a visit, just to make sure we completely wore them all out. Which we did. After a nice visit at Becky's and Mom's it was back home and to bed for them all! Today, Iain had to fly to California but Duncan had another day off of school and I was really grateful for that. I just was not ready to get back in the full swing of the daily grind. In fact, I would keep him home all week if I could.

I hope you all had a great weekend, too!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We had a very teary drop off at school this morning, which fills my head with doubts about sending Duncan to school. We are quite fond of his teacher, and believe she is doing a great job. I have no issues with her whatsoever. Nor do I really have any issues with what he is learning, or the amount of work. Monday nights are the most difficult, because we are coming off the weekend, Iain is often leaving town, and those are the nights that he often has the most homework. Usually 3-4 worksheets of writing, which is his weakest area. So, it can be a total beating.

Again, when I picked him up he was happy and had a good day. When I talked to him about his teary goodbye he said it was simply because he wanted to be with me. Sigh. As a parent, I hope it is always this way. But now, when he is 5 it makes it hard to get him out of my minivan on a cold January day and scoot him in the door to kindergarten. The soft and squishy side of my brain tells me "just let him stay home with you!" but I know better. It is hard for me, though.

We are three days away from the end of the third six week period of the school year. That is half way. I am shocked at how this year is whizzing by. We still do not know what we are going to do about first grade. Our options seem to be:

  • Stay where we are and hope we get into the Gifted and Talented program to provide him with more academic rigor
  • Sell our house and move
  • Get into Dealey (a Dallas ISD Montessori - there are about 36 spots for 1st grade next year)
  • Private school

Honestly, all of them have advantages and disadvantages and I'm all over the board about them. The Dealey option is the one we have the least control over. Staying where we are or private school is where we have the most control. Selling our house is possibly the least attractive to me up front, but if we did sell I would be deliriously happy.

Time is creeping up on us, though, and it's time to act. Ugh. With that, I leave you. Am exhausted now.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

My (mostly) Organic Cake Balls - Step 2

I had alot to do today, but on my list was to hunt down everything I needed to make an organic cake ball.

I hit Target first and the only organic ingredient I could find there was the flour. At that point, I had to go have lunch with Duncan at school where he would eat things that are definitely not organic. After lunch, I went to Michael's, where they do not sell anything organic, but they do sell fun things and I needed fun things for my MOPS Steering Retreat this weekend. After Michael's I headed to my beloved Central Market to find the rest of what I needed for my organic cake balls.

I will just say this. Central Market has alot of things. And an unbelievable wine supply where I came very close to buying the Mommy's Time Out white. But they do not sell organic chocolate chips. What is up with that? I got eggs and butter but no chips. I also got some juice for breakfast at the retreat, tomaotes for the soup at the retreat, and heavy cream. Also for the soup. After picking up Duncan, coming home to two happy babies playing in the back yard with the best babysitter anyone ever dreamed of, and somehow surviving the hours between 5 and 7, I got everyone in bed and started baking.

I also made a rookie mistake. I did not read my recipe before I shopped. I tried to do it from memory. So, started out without organic buttermilk and baking soda. I did have baking powder, so just subsituted. Just used regular (organic) milk but had to add non-organic lemon juice to it to give it acidity. Also did not have any shortening...organic or poisonous....so just used all butter. Cakes are now cooling and I'll see how they taste. Then will make my frosting and make the actual balls tomorrow.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Step 1

Woke up this morning with a terrible head cold. Tried to give myself some time before first child was awake and ended up with about five minutes. Somehow, got diapers changed, clothes changed, and Duncan fed and ready for school. Dropped off a kind of sad, mopey boy at kindergarten and came home. Took Sudafed and an ibuprofen chaser in hopes I will start to feel okay. If I were single, or even childless, I would have called in sick.

Trying to finish laundry and think about what needs to be done to consider putting our house on the market again. It seems overwhelming at times, but something I believe we need to do. There are more days than not that I feel like we are tripping over each other in the kitchen. Mostly because we are.

Iain is back in LA taking care of some critical and rather unpleasant business but will be home early on Friday and we have a date night of sorts planned. Our church has a once a month deal where we can bring our kids for free, attend a 45 minute discussion on a marriage-related topic, then have about 2 hours to ourselves to have dinner and talk. It's really great and does give us a chance to spend time together. And since the real fun doesn't start for another 8 or 9 years we need all the help we can get right now. The timing will be good, since we will have tweens and a teenager at that point. Duncan will be 14 and Claire and Finn will be 11. Anything that can keep us out of The Home as long as possible is good news.

I have had an itch to bring some income to the household for a while. More than just a financial need, I believe. I've tossed around a few ideas but have kind of settled on one in particular that appeals to me. I've been making cake balls for years, and am amazed at the cake ball interest. So, since it is something I really enjoy I am going to perhaps make and sell organic cakeballs out of the back of my minivan. It sounds kind of crazy when I put it like that and makes me think of people selling Mexican flags on the corners but I think it could work. I could tweet my location, and what flavors I have, and sell them at different spots around town. I could also bring my kids with me, which is key. I could also get one of those wrap advertising things for my van. This idea particularly appeals to me for some reason, but I am not sure why. It is odd. My genius husband helped me talk it through and is totally supportive. So, this weekend I am going to see if I can successfully make an organic cake ball. Step 1.

So, tomorrow, I shop. I will let you know how it goes.

Monday, January 03, 2011

I have decided, after two weeks of vacation from school, that I like this rhythm. I like the (relative) calm of the mornings. And when I say relative, I mean no lunches to be packed, no uniform to be put on, no backpack to be inspected, etc... I am not looking forward to bringing Duncan back to school tomorrow, which surprises me. I just want to keep him home and have fun, and read, and have quiet time, and tell him to stop stepping on his sister, etc...

As a side note, I am again getting sucked into The Bachelor. I did not watch Brad Womack's first season so have no ill will against him. And he's from Austin, so I kind of like him already. A few observations:
  • Vampire fangs should be reason enough to get a rose just so we can all watch the crazy as long as possible.
  • Really shiny sapphire blue satin dresses do not look expensive on television.
  • It is obviously very trendy to have very long hair, parted down the middle. Marcia Brady would be proud.
  • I am really glad that the producers finally figured out they do not need to hvae some token Bachelor/ettes of different races just to please the general public. They do, however, need to have Bachelorettes and Bachelors who are NOT WHITE.
  • America will not love you if you do high kicks when you get out of a limo...in a mini-dress.

Now back to our regular programming.

Iain and I face the new year with some decisions to make and actions to take. Why are we not living in our bigger house in a better school district? I wish I knew. Why are we still in this place? I do hope that things will start to fall into place so that we can get Duncan, and eventually Claire and Finn, into a school where they will blossom and we will be able to get involved. Gratefully, he loves his teacher this year and we do feel really good about her. But that is just about where it ends.

I also am planning to start my own business. More about that later. I have a few things that have been twirling around in my head. And I feel a need to provide income, for a few different reasons. So, I need to pray about it and move forward. Then see what happens.

Happy New Year!