Thursday, August 29, 2013

Trying New Things

Every now and then, I like to try new things. Today I was organizing my boards on pinterest (not a new thing) and I kept coming across whatever they are called, you know those things where people who are really talented with graphic design take a cute quote or funny saying and make it look fancy and nice, and then everyone repins it a million times and it all looks super cool?

Yeah, ok.  So I was looking through some of those, and they are great.  But I kept thinking, "Gee, I wish I could find some of my favorite quotes looking nice and sharp like these ones."

And I realize that I could have somehow done some magic-y search-y thing for it, and probably found it, because my quotes are not so obscure that probably someone out there hasn't done something cute-sy and graphic-y design-y to them, but I don't really know how to do those things.

Not that I know how to do graphic design either. But for some reason, tonight, trying to make my own seemed less daunting than searching for pre-made ones.  And for some reason, I want to try to upload it to my blog not as a picture, but as an html.  Yeah, I don't know why I am purposefully and knowingly making things harder for myself, but that's what we do sometimes when the kids are in bed and the husband is doing the dishes and we don't feel like being helpful in meaningful ways.

Sometimes I'm a terrible person, I know that. Let's move on and see if this thing worked.

ba ha ha ha ha ha! It did! Look at that, it did! It did! I did something!  WAHOO!  Ok, yeah.  I know, most of you have been doing this since you were five.  I'm finally catching up to my generation in technology know-how!  Well, maybe I shouldn't get carried away.  Off to find more quotes I like and see what I can do with them.  Thanks for your time!


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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Marvelous Thing

I was playing with Heather today, watching her hands move as she talked and wiggled.  They are so expressive, those not-quite-baby-anymore hands.  I felt an intense, passionate love for that little tiny body, the way it moves and grows, the way it is mine because I made it.

I made those fingers, I made those eyes, I made that smile with all those shining teeth.  I don't understand how my body did it, but in nine months there was a new person in the world, a brand new person that no one had seen before.  But she was here and she was mine, whether I understood how it happened or not.

I thought that there could be a hundred scientists with a million petri dishes and all their strands of DNA and stem cells and they could make amazing things happen, maybe even make a human grow in a lab, and maybe they could do it, but even then I don't think they would actually understand it.

As this new body moves inside me, and I begin to feel the wiggling, tentative movement of impossibly small limbs,  I think of ears forming, and eyes forming, and a heart beating, all in a body the size of a turnip, and I love that turnip baby with a fierceness that would scare mama bears.

When the time comes, I will go through an unbelievable process to bring her into the world. However a mother chooses to do it, or circumstances force her into (because who would choose to give birth in a car on the side of the road on the way to the hospital?) giving birth is an unbelievable process.  Some days I find that I am scared spitless to go through it again.  But I will, and when it is over I will laugh like a wild hyena at what I have accomplished.

Until then there's the nausea and the headaches and the exhaustion and the aching back and the gagging and the memory loss and confusion and I never really know what is going on around me.  But there is one thing I know, even though I don't really understand it completely.  I love these babies.  They are mine and they are precious.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Boy Or Girl?

Four weeks left for me, folks.   I have friends and family all over finding out right and left:
Boy!  Congratulations!  Girl!  Congratulations!

People keep asking me if I'm hoping for a boy.  Hoping is the wrong word.  More like "scared".  But it really would be an exciting adventure, and I would finally get to use my boy name.

Mostly I think I'll just feel sorry for him if it is a boy though.   I tell myself that there are millions of boys around the world that grew up with only sisters, and they turned out perfectly fine.  I just feel like he'd be lonely.  He'd be the baby, and the boy.  And he would always have a crush on Hallie and Hanna and Heather's friends, and they would always be laughing at him.

He would be strikingly handsome though, I do know that.

People also ask me if I feel like I'm going to have a girl, because I always refer to the baby in the feminine.  But that's really just because that's the only gender my mind recognizes anymore in speech.  When talking to my sister, I always ask her if her "girls" are ready, and she politely reminds me, "I have a son, too." Right, right.  Boys.  Some people have those.  Another reason to feel sad for this kid if it's a boy. How many years will it take me to call him a "he"?

I mean, I never ever say "I'll have to bring my children." Or, "could you watch my children".  It's always "girls." Girls Girls Girls.

Not to mention it would be way cheaper if it were a girl.  And I do have a girl name I'm fond of and would be happy to use, provided Devin and I can reconcile our spelling preference differences.  We have always had that struggle with girl names.

So, boy or girl? I have no idea.  But I will in four weeks!  What do you think?  Cast your vote in my poll over on the right.  Up top, on the right hand side. See it? Yeah, right there.

I hope you have a great week!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Favorite Books

Some of my friends in my book club have been asking for a list of my favorite books, and I kept putting it off because that's... that's like asking me to choose between bacon or chocolate, mashed potatoes and gravy or pizza.  I mean, it's like they each have their time and place, you know?!

But then tonight I sat down and took a close look inside myself, and just went after it.  So, this list is obviously subject to some change in the future, as I continue reading and exploring new works.  I also mostly avoided obvious classics*, in part because I often just don't like classics, and if it is a good classic that I do like, then you probably already know about it too.  If you want a list of classics I like, I'd be happy to give it to you. Or, easier, a list of classics to avoid, from my own so humble personal opinion.

If you would like to have a discussion with me about any of these books and why I love them, or any books at all really, let me know. I would love to.  That's pretty much my favorite thing to talk about. Aside from my kids. Wait, actually... I mean, look now we're back to choosing favorites again. Let's not go there.

I also had to break it into two sections, books for a younger audience, and books for adults.  The books for younger audiences I either chose from my own actual favorite books from my youth, or books that I have read recently that I would have loved as a youth and look forward to sharing with my girls.

Blah blah blah, on with the actual lists.

Younger Audiences: (in no particular order)
The One and Only Ivan
Before the Blood Tribunal
Where the Red Fern Grows
Heartbeat
The Westing Game
Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
The Great Good Thing
Dibs: In Search of Self
Flipped
Number the Stars
The Little Prince
Pollyanna
A Wrinkle in Time
Because of Mr. Terupt
Walk Two Moons

Adult Audiences:
All Quiet on the Western Front
The Hiding Place
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
A Girl of the Limberlost
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Persuasion
The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels
When Crickets Cry
The Book Thief
Hannah's Dream
The Woman in White
To Kill a Mockingbird


And then of course, OBVIOUSLY, there's the best one of all:
Empty Nest

Yeah, I know. I know.  Totally does not belong on this list.  But really, I've been surprised and honored by how many friends have bought it and read it.  Now if you would go on goodreads and review it, and be as critical or praising as you'd like, that would be awesome.  I really would especially like to get critical feedback, because I'm a realist and I know it is far from perfect.

And to finish, please, tell me your favorite books! What do you think I should read next? Let's talk.

*as in Little Women or Anne of Green Gables or Ender's Game.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Amazing Guacamole

Every Monday in August, if you spend 20 dollars on fresh produce at the grocery store, you get 20 cents off per gallon at the gas station.  There I was, wandering around trying to buy 20 dollars worth of apples and bananas and what else did we need? With the things in our own garden getting ripe the whole project started to seem kind of silly, but then come on!  20 cents off per gallon!*

Then I thought, guacamole!  And, bonus, I had just read an article that said the avocado had been voted the world's most perfect food.  I tried desperately to remember the ingredients for my sister's most delicious guacamole of all, and we scurried home.

I tried to make the guacamole, but I just couldn't find the recipe.  I did my best anyway, and luckily all I had forgotten was the lime, but lemon juice worked in a tight pinch.

But yesterday, when I was going through the giant mountain of papers of doom I found it!  And now I share it on my blog, so that whenever I get an itch for guacamole, I have it, saved here for all of time.  Also, because maybe you like guacamole too, and would also like to have the most perfect recipe.

Mimi's Fantastically Fabulous and Deliciously Fresh and Tasty Guacamole

avocados (2), mashed
onion (2-3 tbsp), chopped
tomatoes (2), chopped
minced garlic (1 tsp)
lime (1) squeezed
serrano pepper (1), chopped
clasico tahin con limon spice mixture

Alright, so a few notes. I have never been able to find serrano peppers at my grocery store, but I have only checked the one closest to me. If I made a more valiant effort I might be able to, but I just don't see myself explaining to three tiny whining creatures why they are going to another store.  I use jalapeno peppers, and they seem to work just fine.

The lemon juice instead of the lime juice worked ok, but it does taste better with lime.  Note to self: never ever forget the lime again.

The clasico tahin con limon spice mixture I've never had in my own kitchen, it's just one of the super cool things my sister has in her kitchen.  Last time I made this recipe I called her and she told me what the main ingredients were and I tried to just recreate it, but I completely forgot about it all together this time, so... maybe it isn't necessary at all.  Although, again if you do manage to get your fingers into some, it probably does make it taste better.  I am sure my sister will leave a comment telling us all what this clasico tahin con limon spice mixture is, because that's how she rolls.

*Which added up to me getting $7 off at the pump, thanks to a few other items on sale.  Sure, I'll take it.

YAY guacamole.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Drawings

Because of some insurance blah blah blah, I spent the day looking through piles and piles of papers, twice.  As I was going through I kept finding random little drawings that Hallie made for me that at the time I tucked away with all the bills and then they got lumped together.  And as I was searching for this really important piece of paper (that I never found) I was putting some papers in a "throw away" pile, and some in a "to file" pile.  And Hallie's pictures kept ending up in the "throw away" pile, because I get sort of claustrophobic when there is too much "stuff", and I kept thinking, is she really going to care someday about the first picture she drew of a helicopter?  Doubtful...

But then you know, my heart sort of started hurting at the thought of never seeing these random little bits again.  I guess it has been forcefully shoved down my throat that she is not tiny anymore, and that the cute little things she does will fade away until all she is all grown up and spends her time looking for insurance papers and paying bills and telling her children to quiet down so she can hear the man from India on the phone or whatever she'll do when she's grown up.

The problem was, I still didn't want to keep them.  Thankfully, we live in this marvelous digital age, so I cracked open photo booth, took a quick snapshot of each one, and will now upload them to my blog where they will live on and on, and if she wants to see them when she is old and gray and creaking in her rocking chair, she can.  If she never ever wants to, well so be it.

And now, I present to you, some pieces of artwork by Hallie Rose, ranging mostly from ages 3 and 4.

 This was from a coloring book, but I thought she was so clever. When I asked her why she colored it all black, she said, "Because, mommy. He's sleeping. So it is night time, it's dark."
 This one still makes me laugh every time. She said, "Mommy, I'm going to draw a picture of you." And then sometime later, she brought me this, in all sweetness and sincerity. I think it was Mother's day.  If I ever decide to commission a portrait of myself, I know which artist I'm hiring.
 I believe she was trying to draw a mouse.
 She went through a phase where all she drew was houses. This was one of her first.
One time she decided to draw a helicopter. I didn't even know she knew what a helicopter was.  I don't think I could have done a better job, for serious.
Sometimes, she makes me draw something and then she colors it in. This time, she wanted a pig. Then she wanted to write "Rotha" on it.  So I spelled out Rotha for her, and she wrote it. Perfectly the first time.  For some reason she tried to write it again, and all the letters were backward.  So she tried again.  All backward.  She tried a third time and when the "R" came out backward I stopped her.  I pointed out the way I wrote it, and the way she wrote it the first time, and she tried a last time in between his legs there at the bottom.  I don't know what was going on those middle tries...

There you have it, Hallie Rose Artist almost Extraordinaire.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Look Back at Five Years With Hallie

Once upon a time, 
there was a woman 
and the woman was me.  
She lived her life, 
and when she was pregnant 
with her first baby she, who is me, 
looked like this: 

 And I waited for my baby to come, 
nine months I waited, 
and then quite suddenly it seemed 
(after 26 hours of labor) 
she was here.



And then when I wasn't looking, 
she began to grow.










And then one day, 
I'm not even sure how it happened, 
but when I looked at her 
she was no longer my little baby.  
She was all grown up into a little girl.






The next thing I knew, 
she was doing big girl things, 
like riding on roller coasters, and losing teeth.




And that's a look at the past five years with Hallie.
If that weren't enough photos for you, I've put together the following.
These are some of the most classic photos of Hallie, at various ages and stages.
 


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Away She Goes

Tonight was Hallie's elementary school open house.  We were there at 6:15 on the dot, the eager first time parents, with our eyes open as wide as the children.  We stood huddled in one corner, lost and confused. I knew we had to go to room 104-Ms. Reynolds, but I had no idea where that was.  I watched the sea of parents and children sail by, heading to their various destinations and could feel all of the chaos pulling Hallie away from me.

I have four days left.

We found her room and discovered one by one her desk, her cubby, her bin, the reading corner, the playing corner, and the trash can.  I found myself getting emotional and teary, and I smiled because at that time it was not because Hallie would be spending all day there, but rather because I would not be.  I showed Hallie the rocking chair by the big circle carpet where her teacher would sit and read her stories and talk to her about the weather and letters and numbers and words, and I wanted to be the person who got to sit in that chair.

All day long as we anticipated tonight I kept having the odd thought that I was going to meet me.  The "me" I might have been had I chosen different paths in life.  If I hadn't gotten married. Or if I had continued working after we got married.  If I hadn't had children.  Or if I had children, but went back to teaching right away.  That could be me with the well organized cupboards, and cheerful toys artfully placed in corners around the room.  That could be me meeting parents and smiling at my future students.  And for a while tonight in that classroom, I was sad that it wasn't me.

And then tonight I was putting underwear on a sleeping Hanna because she fell asleep naked, and then I was kissing Hallie goodnight and she asked me how many days until she got to go see her teacher again, and then I was holding Heather in the dark, rocking and singing as she struggled her way to sleep because traveling is hard on small bodies and we've been all over the country this month.

In the dark with Heather, singing all my favorite soft songs, her little self curled up tightly against me, I could not believe that five years had gone by since I had held Hallie that way.  And it sounds so cliche and we've all heard it a million times, but I was suddenly glad for every single one of those times she cried at night and wanted me, every time I woke up to spend time with her instead of sleeping in my bed on my cozy pillow.  Because now those times are gone and she doesn't cry for me at night anymore, and she never needs me to hold her in a rocking chair, and she will slip ever farther and farther away from me until all I have left of her is a handful of childhood keepsakes she will leave behind when she moves out, a couple pictures on the wall of her wedding day, and visits with grandchildren whenever I am lucky enough to get them.

And it all starts in four days.  The pull of the world will grow stronger and stronger, and my influence will wane until she is holding her own babies in a dark room, thinking perhaps of me, thinking perhaps of her own warm pillow and how she'd rather be there, thinking perhaps of another of her own daughters heading off for kindergarten in four short days.

I would tell all us young mothers to cherish it all, all those temper tantrums and potty accidents and spilled cereal, but I know that even when I wake up tomorrow and the whining and fighting starts I will roll my eyes and wish I were at the beach.  Those moments are good for something though, they help us appreciate the quiet moments, the ones where there is peaceful and harmonious playing, where there are hands helping set the table or making the dinner, when there are smiling faces telling  about their day, or their new best joke.

And all of it, the good and the bad and the really sticky combines together, making for one teary eyed sobbing mother that realizes that her baby is really going to walk out that door, every day for the next 13 years, and then.

Then.

Who knows?

Also, I learned tonight how much I still really, really, really need my own mama.  So there's hope.  (And my daddy, too.)


Also, side note, the boy who will be sitting next to her seems really nice, and is completely a full head taller than she is.  Hopefully they will be good friends, and he will protect her from bullies.