Friday, December 19, 2014

A Realization

Yesterday as I walked my two youngest children in a double stroller through our neighborhood I realized something.

Three kids + staying at home + double stroller + mini van + play dates + library storytime =
I am a suburban housewife/mom.

I knew these things before, but sometimes it just hits you. Like a friend who once said that she looked like a thirty-year-old mom. And another friend pointed out that she was a thirty-year-old mom.

And then you start wishing you were still only thirty and you see your gray hairs increasing daily and could have done without the Walmart cashier saying, "Oh, I definitely don't need to card you," when you bought cough syrup for your sick kids.

I love staying home with my kids, I love my home, and though I definitely don't love my mini van, I am mostly content with where I am in life. But there are moments when I look around and wonder how I got here. Wasn't I just barely the child? And now I'm responsible for three of them.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Freedom (or the Lack Of)

You know those women who do everything? They have kids in school and extracurricular programs. They volunteer. They work part time. They do online school. They attend community meetings. They go to book club and church. And they still have time to offer to bring you dinner or watch your kids if you need it.

Well, that is not me. But I have a friend like that and she amazes me. How does she find the time in the day, let alone the energy? I have one child in Kindergarten and I can barely keep up with her homework. I'm home all day with two little ones and I never have time to clean my house and only sometimes make dinner.

As I contemplated the difference between our lives tonight, I realized there are two things I lack that makes up the real difference. First, enthusiasm. I just don't care enough. Or at least about those kinds of things. I vote, but I don't go to community meetings. I think about putting my daughter in extracurriculars, but I never want to shell out the money or give up an afternoon each week.

Second, freedom. At first I thought I don't have the time. But I have oodles of time. At this stage in my life, I watch so much Netflix and read so many books it's ridiculous. And awesome. But mostly ridiculous. (In my defense, I'm very often breastfeeding while I read and folding laundry while I watch Netflix.) Even if I carved out more productive time in my day, I have small children who are too dependent on me for me to leave them for long. At the stages they're in, I struggle to find a time to shower when I know they'll be safe for the five minutes I'm in the bathroom.

So, whether you call it justifying it or coming to terms with it, I can imagine that at a later date, I will have more time to volunteer at my kids' schools and be more involved in my community. I might work part time. I might have a cleaner house. But I will be sadly behind on my Netflix bingewatching and my TBR book pile will be so large it will fall over.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Family Food

Ask most people what they eat for Thanksgiving dinner and they'll say, "Oh, just the traditional stuff." But when pressed for specifics, you'll find that the usual stuff varies widely by region and by family. Actually, all you have to do to figure that out is to get married and have a traditional holiday meal with your in-laws. You'll find dishes you've never had before and wonder where the sweet potatoes with little marshmallows are (though I'm more than happy to "miss" those).

The women in church are having an international Christmas night where we're encouraged to bring a dish from our heritage. There are many women from other countries and even if you're not, maybe you have a family recipe from a great-grandmother who immigrated here. Or maybe you're like me and most of you ancestors came over in the 17th or 18th centuries and anything like that is long lost.

I briefly joked that I probably had to bring Jello since I grew up in Utah, but then I started thinking about the foods that actually defined my childhood Christmases.

There was Jello, but it was the sugar free Jello that only my diabetic grandmother ate. And grandma herself made sugar cookie Santa heads with coconut beards and raisin eyes for the grandkids. We powered through the coconut flakes, but the rest was delicious. That side of the family also made popcorn balls--admittedly using Jello for flavor and color.

On my mom's side we couldn't eat our ham without Grandpa's potato rolls. And I had to spoil my dinner with Grandma's homemade caramels, always found in a candy dish shaped like a Santa boot. Great-grandma made divinity, but that was not to the younger generation's tastes.

So with those options in mind, I made Grandma's caramel recipe. And though I don't have a Santa boot candy dish, the buttery smooth flavor takes me back to my childhood.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Say Yes to Hand Turkeys

Majorie Pay Hinckley said, "Whenever possible, say yes they're only kids once!" I love this quote, but I don't live it very well. I don't like messes, I'm not good at playing, and I'm not spontaneous. I'm not exactly a "fun mom." I have other strengths, but every once in a while I remember to say yes.

Thanksgiving break has already begun around here and naturally we had to make hand turkeys. This was planned and not a big deal for me. Three-year-old's hand painted and turned into turkeys, five-year-old's hand painted and turned into turkeys... "Mom, can we paint your hand for a hand turkey?"

I said yes. That might not seem big to you. And it didn't take much effort on my part, but the girls were really excited to paint mommy's hand. The looks on their faces was worth an extra yes.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Awesome Mom Moment

Some people call this a Mom Fail. I get that term, but there are plenty of moments when I truly feel like a failure so I prefer to call it an Awesome Mom Moment--with sarcasm on the Awesome.

If there is lightning nearby, my daughter's school requires a signed note to release her to a parent to take responsibility for taking her out in the bad weather. Which makes a fun time carrying a baby in a carrier and dragging a toddler along with me in the pouring rain and then adding a five-year-old to the crazy train on the way back to the car. I leave home at about 2:50 to pick her up. Without fail, if there's going to be lightning, I hear it first at 2:45. Today was one of those days.

With the carrier and an umbrella the baby stays pretty dry. The toddler wears a raincoat and though it slips off her head a little, she loves the rain and doesn't seem to mind it. She often gets smiles from passersby because she's enjoying herself so much.

Today on the way back to the car, the two-year-old was not enjoying herself as much as usual. I was holding her hand and kept asking her if she was okay, but she didn't answer. I was a little concerned, but decided to just get to the car. As we walked through the parking lot, she was really slow and I kept pushing her to move faster to get out of the way of cars.

As soon as we got to the car, she looked up at me and said, "Mom, I'm underwear!"

Awesome. I pushed my daughter to move faster through the parking lot while she waddled along with her soggy pants around her ankles. The good news is her rain coat covered her backside so she wasn't actually exposed. The bad news is that I couldn't see that her pants were down. I'm an awesome mom.

This picture isn't from today, but as soon as we got home, the girls ran in the rain just like this. So I'm pretty sure I was forgiven quickly.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Missing the Cozy

I do not miss snow. Pictures of the first snow that family and friends post on Facebook make me nostalgic, but deep down I know how much I hate being cold and especially how terrified I am to drive on snow and ice.

But there is something about a cold and snowy outdoors that makes your house feel that much more cozy. When you come in from the extreme heat and humidity, you feel relief when you come indoors to the AC. You peel off as much clothes as is acceptable and sprawl out under the fan and hope that no one will touch you and get you all sweaty again.

When you come in from the cold and snow, you take off your coat and boots. You put on new, warm socks and curl up on the couch with a blanket. You hope that someone will cuddle with you to help warm you up. You eat soup and drink hot cocoa and look at the world outside and feel safe and warm.

I miss that feeling. It's finally cool enough to wear covers when we sleep (some nights) and every once in a while we need a jacket in the morning. But it's just not the same.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lizard in the Living Room

My baby’s been a little sick lately, so I haven’t been getting much sleep. Then I started getting sick. Two nights this week I fell asleep before 8 p.m. So yesterday when the baby went down for a nap and didn’t scream when I set him down, I decided to rest on the couch.

My two-year-old was snuggled up against me and watching a show. Just as I was about to drift into sleep, she screamed and told me that there was a lizard on the wall.

 Lizards are common in Florida and it’s taken a while for my girls to get used to them. The two-year-old in particular still gets scared when she sees them on the sidewalk. And she really stresses out when they cling to the window screen outside. I was sure that she saw one on the window, but she knew better. “No, Mommy. It’s on the wall in the house!”

Sure enough, peeking from behind the curtain was a baby lizard. In my house. I’ve heard of this and dreaded it. I don’t care that they’re harmless or how many bugs they eat—I don’t want one in my house.

First I tried opening the door it was next in hope that it would choose the outdoors. The movement scared it into dashing behind our big foam-filled bag. I moved that and found it sitting in the corner. I tried to trap it with a Tupperware dropped over it, but those little buggers are fast and it ran behind the couch.

And then I couldn’t find it.

My daughter relaxed because “the stupid lizard” was gone. I freaked out because I had no idea where it was. I spent much of the rest of the afternoon searching for a tiny lizard and imagining all the places it could end up in the house and fearing finding it days or weeks later dead somewhere.

When my husband came home, he found it and with help from a friend who was over for dinner, eventually got it outside. But not before it lost its tail that wiggled around on the floor. I guess we’ve been initiated into being real Florida residents. But I did not handle it well and will likely freak out just as much next time.

The good news is we swept behind the couch.