Friday, August 31, 2007

Birthday cake #1 & a blessedly cheap baby!

Yesterday I truly tried to get the Hawaiian Cake made. The day was crazy. Baby fussing, phone ringing off the hook, Mr. Fix-it coming over to cut holes in the walls. By the time we had time to bake, Princess was totally not interesting and Papa was busy helping Mr. Fix-it, so couldn't hold his screaming son. At 8:45 p.m. we turned off the stove (which had been pre-heating for 4 hours) and I took Princess to the grocery store to choose a little cake before the bakery closed.

Initially she wanted chocolate, but the lure of this white cake with it's bright orange frosting, sprinkles and four plastic sunshine rings was more that she could resist. Our local grocery store, which I love, does all of it's baking from scratch and the cake with light, moist and delicious. Hate the white frosting, but I've never met white bakery frosting I did like, so that was okay. The bakery lady let her choose a color and wrote on it and Princess was in heaven. We also got home from the store with ice cream, strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce, milk & a new matchbox car.
I misjudged the candle supply, so Papa lit a wooden match for the poor child to blow out, we sang fast, opened a few presents and ate our ice cream & cake by 10 p.m. and we all went to bed. This is probably the last year I can get away with such haphazard planning, eh?
There were some complications during Princess' birth and even with good insurance it cost us several thousand dollars out of pocket. We aren't complaining - everyone is okay and we know it could have been worse financially and health wise. This time around, the hospital has a new policy and wants $250 upfront before the delivery - if you overpay they'll have the billing department issue a refund. We meant to do it, but kept forgetting. This week we got the bill for Baby Bear and my husband waited a few days to open it, dreading to see the total. When he opened it, he came practically running in to me, waving it and sputtering. When he managed to speak it was to tell me that bill totalled $99.74. Wow. Guess having the baby in one push, 20 minutes after arriving at the hospital and going home less than 24 hours later because everyone is happy and healthy makes a difference! I was feeling guilty about not getting that deposit in (for which they charged us $10.20 - so the delivery really only cost $89.54), but now I feel much better - we saved the billing department the hassle of processing our refund!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Doing What You Have to Do & Princess' Birthday

"Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly."

Thomas H. Huxley
English biologist (1825-1895)

True, isn't it? I didn't get lots done yesterday and at the end of the day, when my daughter was hungry and the baby was napping and the cable guys had been here for a couple hours and my husband needed to be picked up from work, the last thing I felt like doing was being "fun". Yet that is exactly what my family needed me to be. It's interesting that we usually consider the thing we "have to do" as something unpleasant, when it is sometimes a thing we wouldn't mind doing if we were in a better mood or had more energy.

So I did what I needed to do... I packed the kids in the car, stopped to grab dinner at the drive up window of the hot dog stand, picked my husband up and took them to the park. We ate, we played on the jungle gym (yes, all of us - mama even went down the swirly slide), Princess ran through the sprinklers in her new butterfly swim suit and then we headed home. Laundry and dishes and mess still abound, but we all went to bed happy.

Yesterday we decided on a date for Princess' birthday party and reserved the shelter at the park we ate at last night. Today I made my order from Oriental Trading for games, prizes, goodies and decor, including the treasure chest pinata! I also made the guest list and we decided to do messages in a bottle for invitations. I am excited and so is Princess. Usually our parties are not this "store-bought"... but I need the help this year and the shopping is fun :)

Today is her actual birthday and this morning when we woke up I told her the story of her birth as I usually do. Tonight we'll have Hawaii BBQ take out, make a Hawaiian Cake and give her a few gifts, including the coin collecting supplies papa picked out for her on his lunch break today :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chaos is good?

Recently I read an article in one of those free parenting magazine's you get at your OB's office, that chaos is good for babies. They essentially said that since you never know what will strike a child's creative fancy, having a lot of stuff sitting around all the time can give their little brains lots of stimulation. As I read this, I felt a pang of relief! Thank heavens! My less-than-walk-through-able house isn't just one more thing to feel guilty about! In fact, it's helping baby bear's neural pathways to develop and princess' creative juices to flow :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I went out to check on the garden today and we have some huge yellow zucchini, some beans, a few tiny tomatoes and a few strawberries! Birds are getting most of the berries, sadly. I decided I wanted a garden this year, and then I got pregnant. Last time my "nesting" took the form of stocking up on burp cloths, bibs and diapers. This time, I was obsessed with the garden. My dear husband humored me and hauled rocks, dug dirt, planted seeds and built raised beds. The transformation of our back yard was amazing, frankly. I am so grateful for such a great guy!

So after we got everything planted, I freaked out a little and could only bear to go look at it every few days. I was sure everything was going to die, sure it would be some kind of bad omen for a pregnant lady to kill all her plants! What can I say. Pregnancy hormones can be fun.

With the new baby here, I haven't had much time to care for the garden lately. My husband has helped a lot and kept things watered, but we lost many of our original seedlings. I love being in the garden! It is so amazing to me that you can plant a seed and grow food and flowers on par with what you find in the best stores. Next year I hope we can get started earlier since we've missed our window with most things and won't have much harvest before the weather turns too cold. Our growing season is short here in the pacific northwest!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Day...

Yesterday was exhausting, so nothing from me. Today has been exhausting, but here I am nonetheless. I struggle greatly with balancing routine with whatever I feel like doing at the moment. I want the security of knowing that certain things will happen at roughly the same time every day, yet the ability to prioritize a little differently as stuff comes up. Just when I think I've come up with a solution, I get stuck, bogged down by too much routine or too many extras. Today I'm overwhelmed so I guess it is time to think outside the box again.

Change your thoughts, and you change your world.
-Norman Vincent Peale

Saturday, August 25, 2007

August is almost over. The next few weeks mark several milestones for me... my daughter will turn 4 years old next week, and the week after that is my 11th wedding anniversary. Plans?

The princess wants a "pirate luau", so right now my brain is working overtime on figuring that out. I've already decided to purchase (gasp) a cake from the (gasp) grocery store, which is unheard of in my family. I'm also considering having the party somewhere other than my home, which is too cozy for a handful of toddlers and parents to play comfortably in. The weather has been really great, so a park might be just the ticket. On the other hand, the Northwest is known for raining on parades... so we'll have to have alternate plans if we do that. Why all this deviation from tradition? I have a new baby. He's a great baby, but his sleeping/eating/changing schedule leaves little time for things like creating a pathway through the rubble for guests to hang out at our house or baking birthday cakes from scratch. I am also buying the pinata, but will try and manage to stuff it myself.

We usually celebrate our anniversary at home over pasta (his with lobster, mine with basil pesto). This year we probably continue the tradition of not leaving the house, and our anniversary present lists have been narrowed down to one thing that we both want: a full night's sleep. The other thing we try to do is visit the place we were married around the time of our anniversary. We've only missed a couple years of doing this and I hope we manage it this year. There is something wonderful about visiting the place we made sacred vows with one another and realizing that we both consider it the best thing we've ever done.

There is a lot of reflection for me this time of year. As a kid, I always felt like the year really started in the Autumn and it still feels that way to me. There is a little wiggly-ness at buckling down and getting back to work/school/real-un-summer-life, yet also a thrill at starting again. This is the time that I make resolutions (not January) and try to decide what I want to do with myself and how to make it happen.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A late dinner of pizza & rootbeer floats

It all started a few months back, while I was still pregnant. It was a normal weekday morning, which meant my nauseous & exhausted self was sleeping in and the 3 1/2 year old had free reign of the domain. Before he left for work, her papa had made sure anything dangerous left out the night before (like an open package of Oreos or writing utensils that could be used to tag the furniture with permanent ink) had been put away and sat her down in front of PBS kids programming with a bowl of cereal.

I was woken by the princess shaking my shoulder and insisting that I come "fix" the TV. Usually when this happened, she'd pushed a button on the front of our old TV and switched it off the channel that the cable comes through to grey fuzziness, which freaks her out. I moan, I groan, I turn over, and then I get up to rescue her from static oblivion.

After a few minutes of punching buttons, I notice that much of the television appears to be damp. And smells faintly of oregano. Even in my sleepy state, this sets off an alarm, but it's a quiet one. I tell her she'll have to wait for papa to get home to fix it, get out the play dough (yes, my kid gets to play with play dough unsupervised), and head back to bed. I get up for real a couple hours later and inspect the set again. This time, I recognize that vaguely spaghetti-sauce-smelling smell: Sol-U-Guard.

Last summer I got talked into trying (joining) the MLM giant Melaleuca - only as a customer, not as a salesperson - and surprisingly, I've found I really like many of their products. I prefer cleaning products that are not horrifically poisonous to my family or the planet and it's hard to find them reasonably priced, even in the environmentally conscious (obsessed) hamlet I live in. Sol-U-Guard is their botanical disinfectant and it's great stuff. It's pretty non-toxic so I keep a bottle on the kitchen counter for clean up, and apparently the princess is now tall enough to reach it.

When confronted with the evidence, she admitted to helping me clean up the "dirty old TV" with dish towels (which she hid in a pile behind the couch) and the spray from the counter (which she put back). I thanked her and we had a discussion about asking mama or papa for the correct tools to do a cleaning job next time since different jobs require different things to clean them (i.e. do NOT spray wet stuff directly into the control panel of an electronic device).

We waited a few days for it to dry out, but the wires didn't recover. The box was ten years old, so we felt we got good use out of it, but the idea of spending ten times more than the $60 we bought it for in order to replace it made us pretty unhappy campers. I was ready to go to Wal-Mart and buy whatever was on sale and big enough for me make out the picture while sitting on the sofa. I'm pretty irritable when my television (or my Internet connection) isn't working right. My husband remained level-headed and spent a week researching the best options in flat screen home theater systems. When all was said and done, we had 5.1 surround sound and a TV that could be mounted on the wall.

Fabulous! But we really weren't wired for all that, and none of the new stuff would fit in our old entertainment center... so we now have a living room theater with so much extra furniture in it you can't walk without tripping, and enough wiring strewn about to string up a suspension bridge (or alternately trip and break an ankle on). We've tried selling the furniture on craigslist, but despite the fact that it's nice stuff, no one seems to be in the market for it.

So yesterday, the guy who helps us with home improvement projects beyond our capabilities (which is most everything) came to drill holes, get the cables off the floor and start work on remodeling the shelves that will be on the wall that the TV will be on when we get the furniture gone and can actually put it up. S helps him out and finally we think of dinner at about 7:30pm. It would have been earlier except Mr. Fix-it brought his daughter and she was playing out in the backyard distracting the princess. I was feeding baby bear & folding the mountains of laundry which cover almost every surface at this point.

Through the open window I heard the neighbors ordering pizza and lost no time ordering some up myself. I went to pick it up and swung by the store to pick up root beer (Hansen's all natural was on sale and I feel way less guilty when I buy that instead of the "unnatural" varieties lining the 2 liter shelves) and vanilla ice cream (Breyers, with the little black vanilla specks in it, also on sale, so I stocked up). By the time we were eating it was after 8pm, and we finished around 9pm, just as Mr. Fix-it left.

Now, I could have prepared pbj sandwiches for everyone, mixed up some frozen lemonade and left it at that... but some days you have to let the magic in. Eating pizza and root beer floats with my daughter in the warm summer dusk, way past bed time, is one of those moments that I'm glad I didn't let pass me by. There will be plenty of nights ahead for sticking to routines and creating order out of the chaos. Yet as I write that last sentence, I realize that last night was something I want to make sure is part of our lives on a regular basis. I want "order" to mean joy amid the chaos and I want the ability for spontaneity to be "routine" in our lives.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

First Post & Replacements - Tupperware & Parents

And we're off. I still feel a little reticent about the concept of publishing my thoughts and feelings for any random person to consider... it seems sort of like carving L + S = TLFE into a park bench. A pretty public declaration that you might regret later if a) you get caught or b) you change your mind.

I've spent some time this week catching up on some of my own favorite blogs and I really do enjoy reading about other people's "stuff" - food, kids, favorite television.I also came up on a sort of photo blog on flickr this week - Matt McGee's 2006: 1 photo/365 days and I had a great time going through and looking at the progression of a year in someone's life, through their lens (no pun intended).

This interest in connections with people you don't know but have something in common with, plus my love of writing is what is motivating me to start this blog. I haven't written much in the last year, but I am hoping this will give me a push to write at least something everyday.


My almost-4-year-old has chewed through our first set of Sipper Seals. I remember doing it myself as a kid (we had the same Bell Tumblers) because there is something seriously irresistable about the combination of semi-hard plastic and child-size chompers. So I went looking for someone to buy new ones from - a Tupperware Lady!

The prices were not outrageous, but I admit to being quite tight-fisted when it comes to shipping costs. It's the only thing I hate about online shopping. I look for coupons, I look for discounts, I take my business elsewhere. Now, the shipping prices listed where not unreasonable... but it's my least, least, least favorite kind. Flate rate, PLUS. The more you order, the more you pay. So I started looking elsewhere and ended up saving a bunch of money on eBay! I love eBay and one of my most favorite things about it is that ith most sellers, the more you buy the bigger the shipping discount. Happy me! I also stocked up on a few Modular Mates (storage containers, not a dating service), since my daughter has decided we need 4 different kinds of cold cereal open at any given time and I hate stale cereal. I considered getting some new ice cream keeper fresher thingys, but apparently they don't make these anymore, so I'll need to spend a little more time on eBay to find some reasonably priced.


My husband came home for lunch and began updating the insurance paperwork to reflect the new addition to our family. Our son is almost a month old now and in the course of the discussion this afternoon, an oft-contemplated-never-resolved topic arose. Who gets the kids, should both parents perish? The problem seems to boil down to the fact that while we are related to and have friendships with many wonderful people who adore our kids, none of them are us. Some live where we would choose to raise our children. Some share the same religious convictions. Some have the same sort of common sense that we have. Some share child-rearing philosophies. Some would treat our children as their own (which could be good or bad). But no one family has everything we desire for and strive to give to our children emotionally, spiritually or environmentally.

We've been struggling with this since our daughter was born almost four years ago and we have yet to put anything in writing. There are periods when I don't think about it at all, and then there are days when it worries me to no end. The thought of leaving my kids devastates me and yet the thought of leaving them without a sure custodian that I trust freaks me out even more. At this point, I'm hoping that my lack of clear direction in all of this is a sign that it won't be an issue any time soon! As my husband said on his way back to work - I guess we need to think a little longer before we decide. How do you choose different parents for your children than the ones they already have?