Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Best Day of Summer

The summer is quickly reaching its close, at least the part of the summer that matters- summer vacation for the kiddoes. In my house, this isn't really that big a deal yet, and once school starts the weather here will still be hot. In fact, in Albuquerque, our hottest days may yet be ahead of us. We don't usually break out the jackets until nearly Halloween and then BOOM its winter and the holiday season is upon us. We've had a super mild July, with lots of wonderful thunderstorms and rain. My backyard looks absolutely wonderful as a result- work in progress of course, but everytime I look outside and see the green and yellow and pink I get a rush of happy.

These are actually fuller and about a foot taller now...took this pic almost a month ago.

We have not wasted the season, as I have so many times in the past. Unlike most summers, I wasn't hungover from teaching the school year. In fact, thanks to a new yoga/walk/run regimen, and my fabulous physical therapist, I began the summer in better shape than I've been in 3 years. I've been active and able to keep up with my active little boys. Such a blessing!

The boys and I spent most of June with my parents in Texas, visiting with my darling new nephew, Rory, and his parents as well as some friends I have there. Greg joined us for a week, and during that time we drove down to my Grandma's house in Milton, Fl. Our favorite day of the trip, and possibly of the whole summer, was partially spent at Navarre Beach in Florida. Its an easy drive from my grandmother's house. We woke up to a delicious egg and biscuit breakfast made by Grandma and then packed up and drove to the beach. Even the drive was beautiful, bridges across the bays and vegetation overhanging the highways. The South's best season is Spring, and I'll wager no other region in America blooms quite like it does, but summertime also has its charms, especially when the heat hasn't caught up to all the wonderful giant flowers they grow down there. Anyway, across one more bridge and after figuring out the best place to park, we were up the stairs, over the sand dune, and there was the Gulf of Mexico, brilliantly blue and the beaches smooth white sand. Our shoes were off and after a brief confusion over where to park our stuff, we made a little camp and went straight into the water. Both boys were initially hesitant. The water isn't cold, but in contrast to the hot air it was a surprise. Peter instantly decided he hated moving water, salt water, loud water, and would start a low whine which elevated to crying and tears in proportion to how far into the water you took him. He did mildly better with me. Its amazing to me that Peter trusts me above all others, even his father, when I always make him do the hardest and scariest things. I took him farther in, kneeling on the floor of the Gulf feet from the tide's edge so he could feel the waves moving on us .

Peter was MUCH happier in the sand than the surf.
My fear of sharks attacking and carrying off one or both of my babies stayed with me the first half hour we were there. I could feel my heart elevated and I kept searching the clear water for anything dangerous-looking. It was ridiculous, of course, there were plenty of other people there who were way more accessible away from shore and more tasty than my boys. Who am I kidding, no one is tastier than my boys. But I forced myself into the present, into what was. I forced myself to stop ruining my own day. Standing in the surf with Benjamin, holding tight to his forearms as the waves gave him a ride, seeing his joy and wonder at the entirely new experience of saltwater, Greg sitting on the beach burying himself next to Peter eating sand and enjoying the soft seat, I realized THIS: this was the happiest moment of my life to date. I was going to completely miss it worrying about stupid sharks. I joined my family mentally as well as physically and we spent a perfect 2 hours playing in the surf and sand and worrying about nothing except sunburn.

Words fail. The hair, the smile, the squint-in-the-sun eyes- its all working for me here. 

Beautiful blue green ocean. 

After I realized that the backs of my legs were burned probably to the third degree of skin we packed the boys up and went to rinse off. Watching other people try to rinse off the beach is an entertaining past-time, I can tell you. I refer to the dance done by most as the 'sand-hop', especially as they try to get their feet back in their flip-flops without introducing more sand. Awesome.
I made Greg take this picture because there were no pictures of me taken on our first family trip to the beach yet, and the boys might well wonder if I was even there. Afterward, we drove back to the perfect comfort of my grandmother's house- a place that is as much my home as any house I lived in with my parents- and enjoyed the next two days in the calm of the Florida rain with my father's family. Besides my sunburn, I have everything to be thankful for in that blessed, amazing little trip to Grandma's house.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Five-minute Friday- Beautiful


My sons' eyelashes, black and curled up toward his hairline sometimes make me stop what I'm doing and stare. When they crack each other up I see them forming the natal stage of a friendship, a club, that I won't necessarily always be part of but am privileged to stand witness to. My son grabbing the little one under his chin in an effort to pull him off the ground to stand, and his attempts to follow my directions to put his hands under his arms, under his arms, no no, under his arms. The little one's patience during this hilarious exercise.
Beautiful- new curtains framing a room that I envisioned and am almost finished with. Creating my space and seeing what I dreamed possible come out even better than I expected. Husband's exasperated but ultimately willing help making the dream come true. Teamwork, building our home together. Making it ours for our children.
Beautiful is great-grandmothers talking softly to great-grandchildren. Her memories of all of her children, grand, great-grands, the way she remembers the details of her children's playing, accidents, achievements. The way she's stored particular moments with grandchildren running through her modest but most comfy, most sweet-smelling, most warm and homey-home of all homes. The way she still and always will get so excited to see us. We were the highlight of her summer...until my sister visits with her new son, and that will be beautiful, too. I remember bringing both of my sons to her after they were born. We travel a long way to make sure Nene sees her babies. And there it is- that ultimate beauty, not caught up in any of the silly words our society seems to attribute to beauty, having nothing at all to do with skinny, smooth, sexy, and yet the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced, four generations under one roof, sharing a meal, laughing at the newest little love as he fist-shovels his first serving of Nene's banana pudding into his happy mouth.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Five Minute Friday -Rhythm

Five Minute Friday: the word is rhythm

Five Minute Friday

Our rhythm is ebbed and flowed at the whim of the 2 year old's desires to be outside, inside, outside, inside. The 1 year old's naptime, milk-time, cuddletime, playtime. The little duck-like walk he has adopted as he learns his walking power. 
Rhythm is the way we structure our days and our lives, and when the rhythm changes out on the road it is refreshing to hear a new beat- but also unsettling for a new momma. I think most of my confidence comes from that rhythm at home. I have pride in my rhythm. My children thrive and I am happy, or at least satisfied, knowing they've eaten well and I've exercised and they've played and we've all enjoyed the yard and caring for it. ON the road I can't count on any of these things, and I feel unsure of myself as a mother. I watch in horror as the disruption of their rhythm suddenly makes their baby behavior magnified. The screaming is louder in other people's homes, suddenly not eating what's on their plate seems rude instead of a symptom of just not being hungry or being too tired. 
Looking forward to our home rhythm- vacation is nice, but home will be a welcome and reassuring treat.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Resisting the bar

This post is seriously bugging me. I know what I want to say- and I have in some measure said it below- but its not coming out exactly right. But I've spent more than a week staring at the stupid thing and I'm just going to send it out, mediocre and incomplete. bleh.

I know what you're thinking, but not that kind of bar. I mean resisting the bar of perfection. I mean resisting the allure of looking like Superwoman while raising children, taking care of your house, your health, your husband, your friends. I just read this and felt every word this brilliant lady was saying. She puts her guilt in a backpack, but I am trying not to carry it at ALL. It can live in my notebooks and Ipad and blog entries.

Guilt when you do something wrong is a healthy reaction that helps you improve behavior.

Guilt that you lug around, bound to you by perfectionism or others' expectations or others' PERCEIVED expectations is just extraneous baggage and its HEAVY. Shed it.

I am taking up the song of the new mom revolution. We don't live in a carefully cultivated Pinterest-worthy universe. We don't live where the dishes are always done, the makeup is always on, the children are always dressed. (I'm lucky if the grownups are dressed) Our food isn't organic all the time, our plates don't always have vegetables, and I give my kids cow's milk because its full fat and has all the vitamins.  I used leftover party decorations for my son's first birthday, and not only did I not have party favors for the kids who came, I didn't plan any games, either. (We had bitchin' cupcakes from a local bakery, though.) We may choose public, private or charter schools for the kids, and any of those choices are perfectly fine. I may still be 20 pounds overweight this time next year, OR I may lose all the weight and it will be because I was able to put my health on the priority list- some mommies can't and they know why. Its their business and the rest of us should stay out of it.

That's just a small list of the things that I allow to eat me up with useless guilt. Once I make peace with some of those decisions, others pop up to leave me uncertain and guilty. But if I am still for a few moments, if I take the time to turn inward for a bit and listen, I know I am doing a good job. I know my kids are happy and pleasant and creative and amazing. I know that I am happy and pleasant and creative and amazing. Hopefully by treating myself with gentleness I can become an example for other mommies and make it okay for them to do the same.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My earliest memory

My earliest memory is the dawning of a lifelong habit. I am probably 3  years old, although I may have been 2 1/2. I couldn't fall asleep. My sister, in the bed across the room, is fast asleep. She fell sleep probably before my dad finished closing the door and is snoring lightly. I listen to the crickets sing in the muggy Florida night and tell myself stories. Then, from out in the living room, I hear my mother laugh.  My mother laughs easily and often. Hearing her laugh makes me miss her, makes me lonely and left out. I creep out of my bed and tiptoe to the door. Its never latched, and I inch it open carefully. I know I will likely be spanked if I am caught, but I want to be with my parents so badly. I make my way into the hallway silently and carefully. Then I lose my nerve and lay down on the floor. I know they wont be happy to see me. I know they will just be angry that I am awake. I content myself with laying on the linoleum hallway, cheek cold against the smooth floor, and listen to them chuckle at the television show. They are probably watching Johnny Carson, but I don't remember the content of the show, just the talking and laughing. The memory ends with my cheek on the floor, looking at the baseboards and the white wall of the hallway. I probably fell asleep there. I still have trouble falling asleep, to this day. My mind never shuts up! I can blame caffeine, tv, a good book, but the truth is, my earliest memory is of wondering what else is going on in the world that I might be missing while I lay there wasting time sleeping.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A little disclaimer.

I feel the need to say something. I started this blog because I am trying to conquer fear. I have lived a great deal of my life afraid of being out there. I've been afraid to fail, and when I fail I generally say 'well, that isn't something I'm good at' and I move on. This applies to relationships, jobs, hobbies, passions, and even cities. In some ways this ability to 'move on' has been a real asset- but in others it has not. I have missed opportunities to grow, opportunities to discover hidden parts of myself.

So, now, this blog. I struggled last year with many things, some of them covered in this blog, some of them not. But the number one reason I woke up one day and wrote that first post was because I was afraid to. Writing is something I want to fail at. I want to fail so that I can grow my writing and hone in on my voice and develop a discipline. The only other thing I've ever been disciplined at is yoga, pre-baby. Oh, and that time I put myself through college. But that was more out of need for gainful employment with benefits than conquering any fear- plus I kicked ass at it.

Sometimes these blog posts will be funny and about the children and my struggle to maintain a household with two toddlers. Sometimes they will be sad because I will need to write about my depression or my anger or my DIY failures. Fine, DIY failures are funny, too.

Right now my big boy is sleeping in and my little boy is happily scarfing down homemade oatmeal pancakes and banana. I feel a little bit like supermom. I've lost 14 pounds and tried hot yoga for the first time this last week. Despite desperately trying to fit most of my body on top of my block for the last fifteen minutes (picture an elephant on a little circus ball) in order to get away from the heated floor, I STAYED IN THE ROOM and actually participated for about 60 out of the 90 minutes. OKay, 50 of the 90. It was a triumph. I had no idea I had that much fluid in my body to sweat out, and I've been chugging water for the last two days. I feel like a million bucks.

I totally lost focus there with my yoga story. My POINT that I was getting too- life is really good today. Some might say idyllic. Especially the way Ben just said 'hi, mommy! Ben is awake!' from the stop of the stairs just now.

But there is still lurking depression, anxiety, anger. They are put to bed now, and I always hope they are gone, but life is life, and there will be good and bad. In fact, I just got done changing two of the grossest, giantest, ooziest, impressive poops I've ever seen, and around here that's saying something. While it didn't knock me off the cliffs of despair, it sure wasn't super fun.

If you can stick with me through the tough (and stinky) there will be sweet. Much like being my friend. I will stick with you, too.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A few changes around the house.

Greg and I are redoing our breakfast nook. It was serving as a playroom, then a wet room for art projects, now an eating/playing/desk area. My father-in-law has made beautiful benches with storage to replace the high chairs and accommodate more people. I ordered fabric yesterday to make cushions for the benches, curtains, and to add a little pizazz to the back of my desk. I still hope we can do art projects in here- but I don't really want them flinging goop on my computer, so we may be moving the wetworks outside. 

Thrift store table find- painted it white immediately. The chairs are from my parents' beautiful old dining room table they gave us when we moved in here. Its in the dining space in the main room still- it expands out into a giant 10 person table, much too big for this little room. 

Sometimes I look around my house and get all panicky with all the builder's beige and plain angles. Then I breathe and remember: one corner at a time. A house isn't occupied immediately, it takes time and planning and lots of breathing. I will probably never be finished, either, and that's okay, too. I am really looking forward to what the fabric and the benches look like in our little breakfast room. My goal is to have it all finished by July when my mom comes to visit- an ambitious deadline considering we'll be gone most of June. But Greg is really motivated since his dad worked so hard on building the benches. Cross your fingers- going to try to convince him to paint all the kitchen and front room walls white to open the space more while the boys and I are gone. 

Gotta go- quiet toddler with cell phone. I have a feeling he is calling China.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gray Days

I wish I knew why the gray day brings me cascading, descending, like someone holding my head underwater, and the angst bubbles up like fizz in my tummy
why the gray day sags my face and I look like a sad clown, an old grumpy lady, hair sticking up like wires , nose wrinkled, lips on my chin.
The gray day crusts up my eyes and my shoulders slump to my hips, sliding, sinking, and I think how can my children recognize me. Gray days depress my voice and prevent my smiles and even my toes are depressed. I lay prostrate and wait for the sun.

Here is what the sun looks like:
Hello, Mommy. I am your sunshine, your only (except Benjamin, too) Sunshine, I make you happy when skies are gray!

You'll never know, dear, how much I love you...

And this little lovebug, too

Still posing as he watches Elmo

Some Mother's Day humoring of mom by sitting in silly little chairs and taking photos while staring into the sun.

He's giving me the lowdown on the proper care of goats. he's so excited about his dissertation he is drooling.

I just can't. This picture is so stinking cute. 

more stinking cuteness

His joy and delight at the crowds' joy and delight.

The accomplished grad and her littles. Plus Uncle. May is such an exciting time!
With all the of the wonderfulness in the world, it seems silly to let a little grayness get in the way. Especially since the sun has shone every day since the day I started writing about gray days. Thankful for sunny Albuquerque. Thankful for sunny babies. Thankful for husband who doesn't up and leave when I am grumpy. He has the patience of a saint. The anti-depressant is helping, and every day is a little easier. Besides, there isn't anything better than summer with little kids. Kiddie pools, road trips, long walks in the early morning, and long naps in the hot afternoons. Its going to be amazing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

We're going to Disneyland!

We are taking the boys to Disneyland in October. As soon as I made this announcement to friends and family, I knew I was going to hear the negative comments. I have heard many arguments against taking such young children to Disneyland, and have in fact witnessed firsthand the nightmare that can be toddlers who are over-stimulated and exhausted, but stuck in the middle of a theme park where the sights and sounds never end.  I expect each day we are there to have to deal with at least one temper tantrum. Its likely there will be more than that. Benjamin actually gets very hyper and over-emotional in situations where there are crowds and exciting things to see. (Some folks might remember a recent trip to the zoo where he tried to get lost not once, but three times. A child’s leash is in his near future.)

We are still going.

I am especially bugged by the comment ‘well, its for you and don’t pretend its for the kids’. God forbid Greg and I do something for us. We certainly don’t deserve it after working our butts off keeping our home nice and comfortable and the children clothed, fed, entertained, and thriving. Oh. Wait. Maybe we do deserve that. Maybe we deserve to have our family enjoy a vacation together, one that doesn’t involve a family-obligated holiday or wedding or funeral. (Yes, we treat funerals like family vacations. We are celebrating a life and coming together as a family. Don’t judge.)

Maybe we deserve to stay in a hotel and eat out and ride silly rides. Maybe our children deserve to experience some of the magic my sisters and I were exposed to from toddler-hood. We lived 15 minutes away from Disney World when I was age 2- 4 years, and went there often. I had mouse ears before I was 4. My sister Jessica has literally been going to Disney World since she was born. I don’t know exactly what I got out of those pre-memory experiences there, but I will tell you this: I believed in magic until I was over 10 years old, and parts of my heart still does. I find it easy to access wonder and awe at the workings of artists’ imaginations, natures’ miracles, and the power of love in people’s lives. I am not easily jaded or cynical.  I can’t tell you if my early experiences watching magic come to life in front of me as a young young child influenced my way of looking at the world or not- but it certainly didn’t hurt.
Its gonna be all dressed up for Halloween, Greg's favorite holiday. bonus!!

I understand they won’t remember it. I hope in my heart that Benjamin will have some impressions he carries to adulthood because my earliest memories are from about 2 and half years of age, but I know its not super likely. Still, I can’t wait to see the look on their faces. As long as I keep the giant character heads away from Peter, I think he’ll have a really (dare I say) magical time. I can’t wait take them to my favorite places there, and ride the rides I haven’t been on since I was Ben’s size. (not age, he’s like twice the size I was at 2 years old) . Benjamin has never once failed to deliver an amazing reaction to new and exciting experiences (before he freaks out and runs away). He’s actually hilarious when he’s discovered something- it truly is as if no one on earth had ever seen or heard what he’s just seen and heard.

And even though just-turned 2 year old triplets were pretty miserable in the boiling hot June afternoons of Disney World in Florida, and I vowed to never bring a child under 5 into those conditions, I am going to listen to the two women I know who have brought their babies and toddlers to California’s Disneyland. They had a blast. Maybe it’s the difference in climate, who knows. Maybe it’s a difference in attitude. Regardless.

Possibly terrifying for Peter. Will have to take evasive maneuvers, for Peter's sake and also for the sake of the characters should Benjamin decide to add them to his  rabbit/dog/meow meow obsession. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

We have reached the time of much scribbling and writing. Benjamin is ferreting out every pen, pencil, marker, and crayon we have in the house. And I think he has go-go gadget capabilities, because no matter how far back or out of reach I place the writing utensils he always seems to get them. There is a lovely abstract drawing on our fireplace screen presently. Sigh. Thank goodness for the magic eraser.

Every now and then I find myself wandering around trying to decide what to do. I never seem to remember that crayon needs to be cleaned off the fireplace or the kitchen floor or wall....

The lovely thing about this new phase is Benjamin is currently standing at his little activity table, using my pen to mark on every page of my shopping list notepad. Those things are a dollar a dozen, so I'm okay with it- and I love his intent. He chatters while he draws. He is creating, or at least imagining he is creating, a masterpiece. Or he is marking up plans for a new building, or drawing a landscaping idea. I know the picture of cartoon bunnies on the bottom of the page are significant. We have bunnies in our yard constantly. They're everywhere here on the West Mesa. On of my flowerbeds is being slowly consumed by them, and there's patches in the grass where they've nibbled away. Not to mention the rabbit pellets! We pray the boys never notice them. They look like raisins. Enough said.

Benjamin, of course, is obsessed with the rabbits. Some may recall the incident recently when he saw a rabbit through the window. He dashed outside, and became immediately heartbroken when the rabbit ran away.  Deep, choking, sobs heartbroken. Since then he chases them whenever he is free. When he's strapped down to the stroller he contents himself with saying 'hi, rabbit!' or 'rabbit, where are you? oh! there he is' as we pass by on our walks. Cracks me up.

Regardless of his affection for the little pests, the rabbits gotta go. My poor little flowers don't stand a chance if they stay. I see chicken wire in my near future...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sunday morning/Monday evening

Let it be known that the rule of law in the Ochoa household is the later the boys stay up and the busier they are before bedtime, the EARLIER they will wake in the morning. Unbelievable. Peter came down at 12:45? Not sure. I didn't really lay down after that. I was trying to give him a drink which he rejected over and over and we both passed out with the effort of resisting each other-Peter laying on my arm splayed to my side, me propped up on pillows I wish I had moved before resting my head. My neck is killing me this morning. Then, at dawn, about 6am, Benjamin came bounding down with all his bounding energy and Peter and I, bleary-eyed and groggy from being woken from that deep morning sleep, had no choice but to become conscious or risk injury from the pointed affections of my 2 year old bulldozer. Benjamin gives kisses and then he will press his head against your head and apply pressure. I think he wants to see how hard he can push before you cry out in pain. Then he lays down perpendicular to his intended target and straightens his legs, stretching his toes so his legs are as long as possible. I dont know if his intent is to move the person he's pushing against or see if he can insert his toes into their stomach.

professional rascal. works for smoothies, goldfish, and crackers of any kind.

Ah, well. Such is life with a toddler. We've had an idyllic couple of days. The weather, late afternoon winds notwithstanding, has been perfect. This morning, when I began my ritual of sipping my coffee in the sun after watering the daisies, wildflowers and lavender plants, Benjamin came up to me and said 'Ben chair, mommy.' He pulled on my hand, trying to get me out of 'his' chair. I replied, 'no, there's Ben's chair', and I pointed to a chair in the middle of the lawn, left there the day before. It was about 3 feet away from mine. He climbed up and settled himself in with a butt wiggle. Then he sat forward put his hands on the armrests, and started talking to me. At first I couldn't understand a word he said, aside from some names. But the more I really listened, the more I discerned different words- 'going', 'school', and 'not yet' among them. Shocked my shorts off. I just stared at him in wonder, my brilliant child, as he chattered away. I asked him questions when the opportune pauses occurred. I have no idea if I was on-topic or not, but he seemed to find my responses appropriate.

Now, Benjamin talks all the time. He talks to me all the time, he talks to the tv, and he talks to his dad and brother, anyone who will listen (or look like they're listening). What killed me in this moment was the way he was postured in his chair, leaning forward, intent on our conversation. Every now and then he paused and stared off into the clouds. Then he would say something, grin, and fake laugh, complete with a 'ha ha ha' and wrinkled nose and clapping his hands and slapping his leg in glee. Whatever he said must have been hysterical.

This magic moment lasted about 10 minutes. I didn't take a picture. I didn't want to break the spell. I will never forget his serious little face, and the way his shoulders would shake when he forced himself to laugh. I half expected him to ask me for his own mug of coffee (wouldn't be the first time, come to think of it).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


We have moved on to Cous Cous. Cous Cous is, of course, Blue's Clues, in Benjamin speak. Both boys adore Steve. They aren't crazy about the other guy who replaced him. Since we got rid of cable this month, we won't be subjected to Steve replacements. The tv schedule is a little better. I turn it on in the morning so I can get my coffee and see what's up in the world.  The shows only play one at a time on our Netflix, so eventually when the boys have lost interest in the middle of the second one, the tv stays off for the rest of the morning. Benjamin has replaced the tv with his LeapPad...but he's learning stuff, so that's okay. We also end up outside in the glorious spring weather so I can water my little wildflower shoots. Unless its horrible and windy, which its been a lot recently. Then I pull out playdoh or put on Thomas, depending on how dark my mood has turned.

After waging battle after battle with Peter over where he spends his nighttime sleeping hours, winning the fight for a few nights, losing some ground with illness...we have lost the war. Yes, I admit defeat. I surrender. Apparently Peter's teething experience is so excruciating that even ibuprofen isn't working to alleviate it. The only analgesic that is effective? Mama's arms. Better yet, Mama's arms surrounded by Mama's cozy bed. I can't really blame him. Greg and I invested in a new mattress this winter, and it is THE most comfortable spot in the house. Peter's mattress purchase was less thought out...our research consisted of staring at the selection at Target and picking out the cheapest one. Sold. I have regretted that decision since Peter got a little bigger. Its really not so much a mattress as a fabric covered, thick cot. We discovered that by padding the bed with a towel under the sheet and one of the beautiful baby quilts on top for him to lie on top of, we can get a good 2-3 hour nap out of him. But it doesn't hold up all night.

Its looks like this that keep him alive.

I truly have no idea if that's the reason he won't stay in his bed. I read that somewhere and it sounded good. Especially since it could add to my mommy guilt list.  I cheaped out on his mattress. Let the internal maternal flogging begin!

In other news, and perhaps most importantly, my darling new nephew was born!!! Rory Higgins made his appearance on April 22nd after 14 hours of labor and about 20 minutes of pushing. Apparently my pint-sized sister is a hoss in disguise. Further proving how rare (read:recessive) our genepool is, Rory's father clearly won this match-up. He's just gorgeous regardless! I am one proud aunt!
Hi, little lovie, sweet baby nephew boy!!  Auntie loves you!!
Can't wait to kiss his little face!

Also went and procured the anti-depressants I so desperately wanted a few months ago. Peter and I are completely done nursing, and I have had increasingly wide mood swings, and increasingly paranoid thoughts. Here's hoping the meds help not hurt! I've taken bigger risks, the good Lord knows. The only other thing I can say is now, after listening to Peter's screaming for 25 minutes, the house is finally quiet and I am to bed. Well, I am to watching Don Draper be hot on Mad Men. Same dif.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Happiness is...

I am certain I have everything I need. Is that the cause of the malaise? The frantic need to paint furniture, sew pillows, move cabinetry? I am unable to live in contentment. I am unable to accept my own happiness. I am sabotaging it, actually, in this very moment. I know, mentally, that my hormones are out of whack and making me crazy. But the knowledge doesn't stop the crazy. Every few minutes something pisses me off. I am walking around, trying to do the things that soothe me and trying to help my husband and be supportive and open and BAM. something pisses me off, I have to walk away or I will go postal on someones ass. Add to that the fatigue. I am so tired. so so so tired. My home is in shambles, and I don't have the energy to make it better. I took a two hour nap today with a sweet, snuggly Benjamin, and I still don't have the energy to get into the kitchen and finish the dishes. My husband is consistently wonderful and patient with me- although I was skirting the edge of that patience today, that's for sure- but I continue to just get pissed off.

I wish to cultivate gratitude. So I am peering through the foggy mess my hormones have left my brain, and I am focusing on those positive things I can see in the distance. My upcoming travels to see family. My husband who retains his sense of humor and aims it at the black cloud I am toting around. My Benjamin who is SO EXCITED about communicating he does it constantly, and the results are delightful. My Peter who approaches his play and discovery time like an extreme sport, uber focused and committed. I am constantly afraid my crappy attitude is going to negatively affect them for life, or ruin my marriage (which will negatively affect them for life)

And that's the problem right there: Another side effect of all this hormonal crazy is the judgement ticker tape running through my head. I am judging others' decisions and lifestyle. I am judging myself constantly. I vaguely remember a time in my life when I didn't do that. I was gentle with myself. I said 'live and let live' to others. Man, that was a happy time in my life. I know that I can't return there completely- becoming a parent means I have to make 'judgment' calls daily, and there's no getting around weighing the pros and cons and deciding what I think is better. I wish to let go of this need to run other people's lives in my head, however. Or to judge too harshly what I am doing or not doing. What a waste of energy! Yes, I ate that icing for dinner. I had a salad for lunch. Balance is everything. 

My resolution is to cultivate gratitude by catching myself ticker taping-running judgmental narratives through my head, or judging myself too harshly in matters of weight, parenting, productivity- and when I catch the ticker tape, stop it by focusing on things I wish to be grateful for. I am going to do this until it becomes a habit. I warn you: I may become obnoxious with gratitude. Please don't judge me too harshly. 

Happiness no particular order....healthy children, great books and discovering new authors, clean carpets, new furniture finishing projects, one more week of radiation treatment for baby sister and cancer is gone, gone, gone; kisses from 2year olds and 10 month olds, sleeping in with said children, a husband who gleefully finishes a project involving many wires and technology; all the friends and family who came out to celebrate Greg's 30th year of life on Saturday evening. These are the things I am grateful for this evening.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Is Winter over yet?

Oh, man, we have had a rough winter. Good times abounded, sure. Peter learned to crawl and giggle and say 'finished' in sign language, Benjamin learned to talk in sentences and play pretend and be sneaky (He actually pretended to play with his Leapfrog Computer while all the time he HAD MY PHONE, was concealing behind the screen. Stink). Greg and I learned we are stronger partners than we knew possible, weathering illness after illness after illness. Winter didn't start last October, but that's when the corner was turned and a series of events followed that added up to, if not the most emotionally draining winter of my life, a close second. I beat down feelings of guilt over what we did to Peter's first year of life daily. We opened a daycare so that I could bring in money while still staying home with the boys. It didn't work out the way we had hoped. The boys have been sick almost constantly. I didn't make very much money because we kept having to cancel due to one of them running a fever or I was up all night with them due to puking or whatever. I have been exhausted and depressed, and Peter, poor Peter. He's just a baby who wanted his mommy, and I was constantly putting him down so that I could change someone else's poopy diaper or wipe someone else's nose or feed someone else lunch. I think I would still be nursing right now instead of having weaned him last week totally because I was so, so exhausted and it was so hard to nurse while I was chasing other toddlers.  Not to mention my emotional unavailability at times because of the depression I was beating down every day. And Peter's fifty one different illnesses his brother avoided somehow during his first year. It was not an optimal situation. And it didn't even make money.

We are regrouping now. Greg has taken a second job and to his relief I finally agreed to close the daycare. The boys and I are learning together what life looks like with the three of us on most days. There's a happy rhythm, if not completely established, then we're working on it. We miss Greg terribly. Greg and I take comfort in the fact that its not forever, just until some debt is beaten down.

In the longstanding 'mommy wars' I have been on both sides now. Let me tell you something. Cleaning up multiple diarrhea disasters while containing a 2 year old hell bent on not taking his nap, when said 2 year old starts pulling out drawers and throwing heirloom cups into his sleeping brother's crib...that's hard shit right there, no pun intended. It ain't for the fainthearted. The isolation is no joke, either. I am not alone but completely alone all day long, especially when they are sick. That said...hats off to the mommas who go to work every day. I did that, too, and it was heartwrenchingly impossible. My head was always at work when I was home, my heart was always at home when I was working. My husband was bewildered and stressed over the cranky babies while mommy was gone, and the cranky mommy when she was home.

There's no easy way to raise babies, and that's the long and short of it. Meanwhile, I will exercise my brain with this blog and reading. I will speak to my friends daily. I will NOT spend too much time on Pinterest or mom-blogs (which I guess this is? I think of it as my surviving with depression/being broke/ I need an outlet for all of these bazillion THOUGHTS blog) because mom-blogs somehow end up making me feel inadequate, with a few exceptions.

I will remember, as I told a wonderful mom-friend of mine recently, that I am the parent God intended my boys to have. That as long as I SHOW UP and follow my instincts, I am a good mother. I am a great mother. I am the best damn mother my children could possibly have.

 That said...I am fairly certain nobody else's kids watch as much tv as mine. sigh.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

a little dream therapy

This post is going to be a departure from my other posts. I have a post all laid out tracking some of the funny things Peter has been doing lately, but there is SO MUCH going on around here, and I am using this blog to process. So this morning, you, dear reader, get to read about my dreams last night. Don't groan, please stick with me, because I have already written the post and I am satisfied and a little surprised- this dream writing exercise carried with it a lesson my subconscious has been trying to hammer me with, and I now finally just got it.

I have been dreaming about houses lately. Two-story, elaborate houses with turrets and things I need to look up the name of, architectural features; and also one story, simply laid out houses. Almost all with hardwood floors, almost all associated with someone or an event.I guess that isn't surprising- I spend a lot of time in my own house, taking apart its features, planning changes, decorating, deciding to love something as it is.

The two story, rambling homes, loosely based on our home in VA (we didn't have turrets, of course) In my dream this house was only seen from the back, alongside its neighbors at the odd angles they build on near the creeks there.  I don't remember much from the dream, just talking to someone about my memories of living in the house. You could catch crawfish in the creeks there, although I only remember doing that once with my sisters and some friends. We weren't super outdoorsy. I did ride my bike along and thru the dry beds one summer for hours. It was terrible fun. Unfortunately, the hard riding did my bike in. One day I was riding it home from a friend's, standing on the pedals to get up the last steep hill before my house, and the whole frame came apart. My dad took it to the bike shop and the owner asked 'wow, is the rider okay?' They'd never seen that much damage on a bike that wasn't hit by a car. Then my sweet grandpa and sweet father put my handlebars on an old bike we had that was sturdy and good, but it wasn't the same as my shiny, red, comfortable, familiar, beautiful bike, and I never rode it. It just didn't feel right. The seat was unfamiliar, uncomfortable, the body of the bike blue and rusty in places. I wanted to ride it, to please my dad and grandpa. But it didn't feel right. I was still at an age when I wouldn't do things just to please other people. My parents didn't like that much- it was the cause of many fights- but its a trait I wish I had held onto as I grew into my teens and then my twenties. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache.

I moved onto other places in my dreams last night, always noticing the houses, angles and windows and light. The dream this morning ended with an odd little duplex. It wasn't odd in itself, it was quite beautiful, all piney wood and quirky southwest charm. What was odd was that my friend lived in one side, and her ex-husband in the other. So I was having tea with my friend, perfectly happy and enjoying the way the sun came in on her dining room table, as she and her mom bustled around the kitchen, preparing salads probably, and the conversation was relaxed and happy and peppered with laughter. I felt a real longing. Its been a long time since I sat in her kitchen with her and her mom, just enjoying the conversation and company. Completely relaxed. Then for some reason known in the dream, but unknown once waking amnesia sets in, I went to the other side. It seems I was collecting some things, my arms were full the whole time. At one point I sat down on the ex-husband's leather couch, I was meant to watch a movie, but he wouldn't stop talking to me. He was leering, as he used to do, and smug and knew of course everything about which he was speaking of. What strikes me now is how those were definitely characteristics of this person- but so too of many men I've known throughout the years, all whom are (thank our better sense) left behind by us women who moved on to find better and gentler, kinder, more self-satisfied men. At any rate I was very ill at ease the entire time I was there. I wanted to leave and return to the other side of the house, the duplex. But I had grown out of the age when I worried more about what I wanted and less what others wanted. He clearly wanted me to stay. So I stayed. And then my alarm clock went off and here I am.

I hope that if my alarm clock hadn't woken me up I would have stood up and walked out after a polite goodbye. I hope I would have returned to drinking tea with my friends. I hope my subconscious knows what my thirties have brought me- the ability to get up and walk out of any situation I don't like and walk back into the places and arms where I am valued and cherished.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The blink of an eye

Just planted some wildflowers in the backyard!  Woo hoo!  Let me tell you why wildflowers. I think they are the perfect first plants for a gardening novice. They take care of themselves after you've nurtured the seedlings. They are beautiful. Putting them to bed for the winter is simple (mow, leave for mulch, boom, done.)

During my gardening adventures today, Benjamin proved curious and helpful. He held the watering can and directed it over the dirt while I prepped the ground, getting us both wet. He sunk his little hands into the mud when I turned the soil over. He helped me spread the wildflower seed by a method new to me (grab and dump, grab and dump, always in the same spot) but hey, I'm new to gardening, too. Then we stomped on the little seeds together, repeating 'step step step, stomp stomp stomp'. Lastly, he helped me put my tools away by grabbing the soil and throwing it. We both left our muddy shoes on the porch and came in and sang our ABC's while we washed our hands. It was a perfect gardening session.

The other thing Benjamin is pretty new at is potty training. We are just introducing the concept, letting him get used to all the equipment. For a couple of weeks, he liked to sit on his potty seat on the 'big potty' pantsless, and just hang out. I brought a stool in there to sit on so I could hang out with him, but of course other things distracted me so I ended up leaving him a couple of times. Both times I forgot to move the toilet paper each time there was close to a whole roll in the toilet by the time I came back in. At least he knows where it goes. He'd shoved so much in, it was up to his bum. I will let you imagine the clean up.

Caught sight of the little boy Benjamin is becoming while I put him to bed last night. He was hugging and affectionate and telling me he 'wuv you too' and very toddler like- but his face, in the shadows of the twilight in his bedroom, seemed much older. I had a glimpse of the future. It made me sad and excited and proud all at the same time. So of course tears bubbled up and I had to choke a little emotional eruption. He didn't notice.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Triangle of Love

We've had peaks at the sun these last 10 days, only to have the outdoors snatched away again by that high desert wind. ugh!!  I read a few years ago in some hippie dippy magazine that, even though the spring may bring new high temps in the 60's and 70's, keep yourself wrapped warmly in long sleeves, pants, socks and wrap sweaters. Its great advice. Its tempting to dig out the flip-flops and skirts and shorts for the boys but the wind is FREEZING cold. It crops up every day in the afternoon, making it important to get dressed right away in the morning so I can get outside and work on my new box garden. Which is of course why I've been in my bathrobe every day I haven't had daycare kids here and my box garden continues to look like this:

Please notice the box garden pieces are still in the box. The rocks are partially moved, which is the only progress I have made in the 8 days since I bought it. sigh.

This week I re-committed to Weight Watchers. I don't think I've mentioned that I"m on Weight Watchers. Its pretty cool, I've lost 7 lbs, but the last four weeks I only lost 1 pound, I guess because you have to actually follow the points and stick to the plan in order for it to work. Whatever. Guess i'll stop making cheesy green chile enchiladas and ravioli lasagna and roast more vegetables. Yawn. The other way I re-committed (besides accepting the points as a valid way to track my food intake) is by entering a challenge to make yoga 8-15 points per weeks worth of activity points. I love love love yoga. I have been unable to do it since getting pregnant with Peter, and if I'm honest its been almost 3 years since I practiced with any regularity. My physical therapist gave me pointers on doing the yoga without hurting myself...she didn't mention after I went through my PT exercises yesterday I pulled out my sticky pink mat and got down to a sloooowwww sun salutation. Have you ever tried yoga while keeping a neutral spine? Its like using a bendy straw and constantly reminding yourself not to bend the straw. Difficult and almost can still drink out of a bendy straw thats unbent, its just really not as much fun. But it left me winded, so I think it was worth it. My favorite part of doing yoga was pushing Ben off the mat every 2 minutes and telling him Mommy was doing yoga, please don't jump on Mommy or her mat. His eyes lit up and he went careening into the kitchen yelling 'GAY-GURT!!  GAY-GURT!!' which is his toddler word for yogurt. Hilarious enough, but he did it EVERY TIME. Love this kid's optimism. Every time I said 'We don't have yogurt, honey, mommy is doing YOGA' he would run into the kitchen 'GAY-GURT! GAY-GURT!'. 'Please don't roll on mommy's mat, she's trying to do yoga' 'GAY-GURT! GAY-GURT!' so I started saying it just to get him out of my way.

I will leave you with the following series of pictures because I believe they illustrate perfectly the ongoing dynamic between Benjamin, Peter, and myself. The triangle of love, if you will. I don't have any pics of me disciplining Benjamin for hurting his brother deliberately, but if I did they would further the triangle of love by showing how after being disciplined, Benjamin wants lots of hugs and kisses and reassurances. We may be entering co-dependent behavior, but since I am becoming a proponent of Minimalist Parenting, I ain't gonna worry about it. I pay for my own therapy, they can, too, when they are all growed up and realize all the ways I messed them up.

It started with them sweetly watching Cars 2 together for a few moments, which is why I started taking the pictures. 

Don't sit on your brother don't sit on your brother don't sit on your brother! If you look closely you can see the grin as he considers his options.

P.S. I didn't mean to imply I disciplined B after this particular close call. No harm, no foul.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


wow I am right back where i started a week ago, contemplating calling my doctor to get some antidepressants so I don't feel like this anymore. What this is, is ungrateful, crabby, anxious, angry, jealous, competitive, numb then not-numb but the aforementioned emotions all again and all at once, covetous, ugly, slothful, then abused and why is there so much to do and why do I have to do all of it. And what is my life about? What kind of positive change am I working toward in the world, shining stupid sinks and wiping baby butts (albeit adorable baby butts)? Am I wasting my life? What will I be when I grow up?

And underlying it all, tired. so tired. I try to focus on the present moment, and I feel a surge of hope and joy in my son's smile, or attempt to crawl up the stairs, or a spontaneous hug...and then I lose it. I lose the moment, I open up the laptop, I gaze at the beautiful pictures on someone's blog, coveting coveting coveting. White cabinets, a kitchen island, wait a minute I need to take out this wall and move this here and blow open this room or blow up this house because it is unliveable unliveable I cannot bear to live here ANYMORE. The kitchen is dark dark dark and I am always stuck in it. I stick myself in it. I am hiding in the kitchen I hate.

I start getting angry at my husband. He works all the time. He is never here. I can't ask him to do more than he's doing because he works literally ALL THE TIME. So the trash in the garage never gets cleaned up, he leaves me with overflowing kitchen trash to take out to add to the dump in the garage. When he is here he is always always always on his phone, always. youtubing music, facebooking, text messaging. His kids do NOT know what his face looks like unless it is facing down, gazing at the almighty ever present IPHONE. And I AM NO BETTER WITH THIS COMPUTER.

The ridiculous thing is, and those of you who know my husband know this, he is a gem. He is an absolute prince. He makes my life possible. He has some quirks that drive me nuts, but, hey, that's living with anyone. Marriage is work, our marriage is work, but on a normal day our partnership flows evenly and seamlessly I think because we choose to pay attention when the work needs doing. Truthfully, he only hides on his phone when he's tired and stressed. Truthfully, I only hide on my computer when I am tired and stressed.

The above paragraphs were written after three nights of not-great (okay non-existent) sleep. Peter is teething, Benjamin has night terrors, Greg didn't wake up the first of the three nights so I had to, and the last two nights he's been at work. Last night I gave Peter ibuprofen and opened the door wide and left the hall light on so Benjamin could find his way downstairs on his own. And I turned the monitor off. I left my door open, woke up briefly when Peter woke up, but went right back to sleep. Benjamin made his way downstairs at some point, I barely remember helping him up into bed. I discovered this morning at 8am that B had politely closed his bedroom door behind him, which may explain why Peter slept until 8 when I walked he cried awhile this morning (probably around 5am) before he gave up...oh well...

I say oh well because I can either get up and soothe and comfort and help back to sleep, or I can be present and laugh easily and play and stay on top of all the thousands of daily tasks that keep their world bright and clean and beautiful, but I can't do both anymore. Its been over 2 years since I had a regular sleep cycle. I am officially worn down.

I have been doing a lot of mulling over what I want to remember about this time in my life. What do I want to put emphasis on? I notice the memories I have taken away from different stages in my life are those that I put particular emphasis and importance on. Also, painful, I mean physically painful, memories are seared in my noggin with pretty detailed pictures and senses. Some otherwise painful memories, too. I understand that is a tool my brain has to ensure I remember the cause of the pain so I NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! Frankly, a lot of those memories make me laugh now. At any rate, other memories not associated with pain are always a little blurred. But I remember them because either they brought great joy or change to my life, or I chose at the time to put emphasis on them. What do I want to emphasize about this time in my life? I tell you what. Its not the depression.

I refuse to let depression be the main focus of my babies' first years. I want to remember the way they sound, the way they laugh, what makes them laugh, what they love to do, what surprised and delighted and inspired them. I want to remember the way they wrap themselves around my neck and middle and hold on with their soft little bodies. The way they smell. The awakening of their relationship with each other as Benjamin realizes Peter is a person and likes to play, too. How if Benjamin hears Peter he says 'oh! Peter awake!' and heads for the bedroom with me to get him. Or if we're on the way out the door, Benjamin will say 'Peter, c'mon! Bye Bye!' The way Peter looks at everyone he knows and loves, with open adoration and joy, that almost toothless grin flashing to get the attention of the person its directed at, saying I am here, too! I want to play and laugh, too! Petezilla, demolishing all train tracks and roadways in his path because he's 9.5 months old and that's how he rolls.

I actually didn't know this picture was going to be this good- I really thought I was just getting a sweet snuggle bunny photo. Benjamin always delivers.

We are having a preview of spring this week here in Albuquerque, with sunshine and mild breezes and perfect, perfect temperatures. We aren't done with winter yet, but I am humming 'Here comes the sun do do do do, here comes the sun and I say It's All Right'. I feel like I am waking up after a yucky dream to my amazing, beautiful life. Keep on rejecting the depression, embrace sleep, and focus on the small, infinite, fleeting gorgeousness that are the details of childhood.

I can answer some of those big questions about myself later. Right now I am going to take a nap.
Picture number 954 of Benjamin and I posed and smiling exactly like this.