Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Best Laid Plans

Sometimes you take a spur of the moment picture of your kids in front of the Christmas tree and they're all smiling and looking the same direction. It's truly a Christmas miracle.

Other times you dress them up and comb their hair and try to get a picture of them in a beautiful park setting, and you get this:

I'll take the drool-soaked shirt and uncombed hair and sweet smiles. Though the planned picture "fails" show their own kind of truth. I just won't be putting them in a frame on my wall.

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.