Monday, August 29, 2011

That Mom.

I was at the grocery store tonight on our way home after picking up both kids. No, I will never learn not to take my kids to the grocery store when it's dinnertime. Apparently I enjoy making the same mistakes repeatedly.

This time I decided it would be different. I would hurry in, buy just a few essentials to carry us through the week (meat, milk, produce) and be out before the kids lost their cool. And this time it worked!


I pushed my cart into line and grabbed my wallet to find my debit card, and next thing I know Luca is about 3/4 of an inch from some man's cart, staring longingly at his ice cream. "Luca," I said calmly, "Could you please come back closer to me so that man has some space?"

Smiling, he turned to me and said, "Oh, it's ok. I have 4 at home. She's not bugging me."

Such a kind gesture, and one he regretted about 7 seconds later when my kids simultaneously started to wiggled their butts and sing -LOUDLY - "Shake your bootie! Shake your bootie!"

Mortified, I figured I'd nip it in the bud quickly and bent to their level to tell them they needed to stop. And stop one would, while the other would defiantly continue to sing. The quiet one would inevitably lose it and start giggling, thus encouraging the singer to sing LOUDER and agitating me enough that I would again stoop down to reprimand both offenders.

And...repeat scene. I swear I contemplated just laughing it off at one point, until I caught the judging eye of the mom behind me in line as her toddler daughter was paying close attention to the spectacle. I wanted to be annoyed with her, but at one poitnt I WAS her, smug and sure I'd never be the one with kids causing a borderline-inappropriate commotion in a public place. Still, her condemning glare was enough to make the heat rise into my face and suddenly I could feel sweat trickling down my back and I was starting to panic. But kids smell fear, you know, so the more anxious for them to behave I became the more obnoxious and defiant they became.

Finally, after the 4th or 5th round of "SHAKE YOUR BOOTIE! SHAKE YOUR BOOTIE! ::giggle:: SHAKE YOUR BOOTIE!" accompanied by actual bootie shakes aimed in the general directions of the (now wishing he hadn't been so) nice man in front of me and the (unwarranted) judger behind me, I crouched down and pulled both kids to me. I was thisclose to lowing my damn cool, but I knew it would do no good, so instead I tickled both kids to get them giggling, then quietly begged the crap out of them, asking for good behavior just long enough to get out of the store without someone throwing a head of lettuce at us or calling CPS for my subpar parenting.

It worked. Well, the begging + the promise of peanut butter cookies at home did anyhow. I'll take it.

The sourpuss behind us was still giving me judgy-face as we left, so I made sure to give a nasty look back to her. And a look of sympathy to her husband.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back Burner.

My husband was roped into coaching football this year. It's the Freshman "B" team...a group of guys who couldn't quite make the cut for the Freshman "A" team. And now they are relying on him to coach them into better skills and hopefully a slot on the JV Team next year. You know...the REAL JV team, not the "B" team where they only get the games the "A" team can't/doesn't take.

If you don't really know my husband, you think he knows a lot about football. You probably even wonder how many years he played in high school. You assume he's got Sunday Ticket and is a rabid fan. Being 6'5" and broad shouldered, it comes with the territory.

His knowledge of football is really sort of paltry. He knows enough to yell at the ref while he drinks a beer and watches a game. And then we beg him to turn off the TV so we can go/see/do and next thing you know it's spring training for baseball and we've only watched pieces of a few games.

So coaching is a challenge for him. He feels bad that he doesn't know drills and plays. Crap, he feels bad that he doesn't know what a Cornerback does. But he'll learn, and I know he will. My husband is amazing in many ways, but his dedication to his students is one of his most amazing qualities. For those nervous and falsely pompous freshmen all fighting to be a hero, he'll do anything. Including dragging his family to the Wednesday night game of the Freshman "A" squad on a day that hit 116.

So there we were, watching him stand on the field and try to soak up football through osmosis, when we ran into the wife of the "A" squad's head coach. Her eldest daughter is in Luca's preschool class this year. Her other daughter is a year younger than Rohan. And she's pregnant with Baby #3.

We made small talk which quickly turned to kid talk which then switched to baby talk. First, about the son she is expecting and how excited they are. Next, to how nervous they are to have 3 under 4. That's 3 kids in daycare/preschool at the same time on 2 teachers' salaries in case you were counting. Which she was.

And then she asked me that fateful question, "Just 2 for you guys?" and I stumbled over my response.

If you'd asked me in those hormone-laden days and weeks after Rohan's birth, when I was flying high on my amazing little family and feeling like SuperWoman, I'd have insisted there was another baby in our future. Truth be told, I still feel pretty strongly that we're not done. It's almost like there's another little baby waiting in the wings, and on those days when Darrick and I both talk wistfully about sweet newborn peach cheeks and baby fuzz I can see it like it's a foregone conclusion. We joke about how maybe this next one will look like me rather than being another little Daddy Clone. We talk about how much easier it will be to afford the baby when Luca's in kindergarten, or even better when she's in 1st grade and Rohan is 1 year away from Kinder (i.e. one year away from us not having to PAY for his schooling). We let Luca muse over possible baby names (She wants a girl, who will be named Flower, of course.).

But on other days? Our life as a family of 4 is pretty sweet. We have a rhythm. We have balance. We have dreams of a future that involves long road trips and a 10 year anniversary trip somewhere exotic. We don't miss diapers, especially now that we're down to only using a few Pull Ups a week since most mornings at least 1 kid wakes dry. We have faith that just about the time we're done paying for daycare/preschool we'll also have paid off our car and all our credit cards and we'll be able to live without worrying about money for 4 days before every payday. We have a small car that we hope will last for many years and doesn't really have room for a 3rd carseat.

But then: pretty soon Luca will be in a booster seat, which takes less space than a carseat. And soon enough our daycare/preschool costs will go down dramatically. And....and....and....and.....

It's a stalemate. And I don't know what should be our next move. I don't think Darrick does either, so most days we don't talk about the subject at all. On a date night recently, when conversation was flowing and I looked at my best friend across the table from me, I had the courage to lay it all out. I asked him if he thought he'd ever want to have another baby, even though I was sure I knew his answer. I guess I was feeling brave enough to hear him say no; he was done.

He didn't say that at all. He also didn't say he wants another baby someday for sure. In fact, it turns out that if we're perfectly attuned in any way at all, it's in uncertainty. Neither of us knows what the future will hold, and we're not ready to permanently close the door on babies in the future. So for now, we're moving it to the back burner. We're committed to reaching some other goals together first, from paying off the car and other debts to some home improvements. And we're talking careers long-term and a possible career shift for one of us. I guess time will tell whether or not another baby will fit into our life, and I'm finally ok with the decision not to make any decision at all.

More, Please.

Broccoli from Bountiful Baskets.
Squash from my mom's garden.
Frozen corn.

Sauteed over low heat with olive oil until tender, then heat turned high to brown the edges of the veggies.

Insanely good.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Snapping Out Of A Funk.

Ever had a moment of clarity that you really didn't want to face? Mine was last week, when one of my biggest professional achievements was married to one of the biggest hits to my ego.

In my line of work, I interact quite a bit with a national group that does a lot of research and public policy issue analysis. They frequently release reports with state or local level data, and last week was no different. They released a report, and I initiated the process of having a press release sent from our agency regarding the local/state impacts noted in the report. It wasn't pretty, and it needed to be shared. The press release got immediate coverage from local radio stations and even local news stations, which chose to interview families impacted by the issue covered.

And then, there was a request from our local PBS station for someone to appear on their evening 'interest' program where current issues, politics, economy, etc. are discussed with a host. We got the email inviting us and my heart sank into my stomach. I can write 100 press releases and talk to radio interviewers, but ask me to be on TV and I am instantly 13 all over again.

I worry about how I will look in general. I wish I'd had more warning so I could do my hair and wear my most flattering outfit. I cross my fingers that someone will do our make-up before we go live. I want to run far, far away. I am afraid of saying the wrong thing, sure. But more than that I am afraid I will look horrible and my voice will sound horrible.

It shames me to write that paragraph, by the way. To admit that instead of feeling proud of this moment I was vainly worried about how I would look. But there was no time for my 13 year old self to get out of going on TV, so within a few hours my boss and I were taping the segment to air that night. We taped at 5:45 and it aired on our local PBS affiliate at 7 p.m. In a way, I was relieved that it happened so quickly because it meant less time to worry and obsess and stress.

I got home just as the show was starting. Knowing we were the final segment, I set my DVR and turned off the TV to have dinner with my husband and play with my kids. An hour later we decided we couldn't wait to watch it any longer, so we hit play and sat back.

"Oh no. OH no no no!" <--- my reaction to the first screen shot of me on TV. I couldn't hear a word I was saying because all I could think about was how my cheeks looked huge and my hair looked awful and my shoulders could easily get me a spot on the high school football team my husband helps coach. The world went into slow motion as I wondered how many people I know had seen it and whether they thought I looked as horrible as I thought I looked. And then I started to cry.

Meanwhile, my husband didn't know what to say to me. Luca had already lost interest and gone in the other room. And just as Darrick tried to convince me that I didn't look as bad as I thought I looked because really I didn't look like that in person anyhow (no, really...he was trying to make me feel better...) Rohan turned to the TV. Smiling, he ran up and put his hands on the screen and said, "That's my mama!".

And I cried some more.

The next day I went to work and couldn't remember anything I'd said on the show the night before. Within an hour of getting to work, I had over a dozen emails from people with whom I work, applauding the show and our success in covering such an important topic. And while I should have been basking in the glory of all the accolades, I just kept thinking of how all these people had seen me on TV looking like THAT. I cringed when I realized the link had been sent to our entire Board of Directors and posted on Facebook.

I made self-depriciating jokes. Because it's better to be the one to make the first crack than to be blindsided by others, I made fun of myself. My favorite joke below the link on Facebook when my sister posted it:

"Do not be alarmed, friends! It only LOOKS like I am planning on eating Ted. No hosts were consumed or otherwise harmed during filming."

My sister deleted the link. Apologized for not asking me if it was ok to share first. And it finally hit me: Shut. The fuck. Up.

My boss has been in her position for over 8 years, and this was her first appearance on this show. And she was there because of my press release inspiration and my knowledge. The host? He interviews everyone from politicians to leaders in business to non-profit executives. And he didn't once doubt that I belonged there, right beside them. And when I dared listen to the audio without watching the video I had to confess: I kicked some major ass. I was knowledgeable. Fast on my feet. On message and on point and a pretty awesome advocate for people who normally don't have a voice. Hell, I didn't even sound OR look nervous.

And then a text from a good friend sealed the deal. She knew about my insecurity and she said just the right thing to remind me of what's important. And most of all, this friend who I admire and look up to so much said she was proud of me.

So why couldn't I just be proud of myself????

It took me a few days to move past that visceral reaction to seeing myself on camera. Honestly? The me on TV must have 30 pounds on the me I see when I look in the mirror. It was a wake-up call, but at first I didn't take it as such. At first? I was defeated. I've lost nearly 20 pounds. I eat well. I work out 4 days a week. I see THAT girl in the mirror. On TV, I saw the girl 20 pounds and years of couch-potato-ness past. So I gave up a little. I couldn't seem to get off the couch or step away from unhealthy snacks. I let myself wallow for a few days.

Then I thought of my daughter. My son. Myself. I thought of what it said to them that I couldn't stop focusing on how I looked for long enough to celebrate this professional victory. I thought of what it said to ME that I was letting my perceived shortcomings overshadow what was not ONLY a professional but also a personal victory. So I didn't look thin and gorgeous! I sat my butt in front of a camera with my boss and held my own on TV. I knew my shit and I knew it well.

I had to make a decision, and though it was a struggle I decided to use this experience as inspiration, rather than letting it derail me entirely. I got back on track and back on the wagon with my healthy eating and exercise. I promised myself there WILL be a 'next time' I'm on that show, and that I'll be proud of how I look AND what I have to say that time. I even shared the link with a few people and tried not to do the self-depriciating jokes and cringing.

I'm a work in progress. If I've learned one thing through the years, it's to try to be as kind to myself as I would be to a friend. And that's often the hardest lesson. Patience isn't always my forte and neither is kindness to myself.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Wagon

I not only fell off the wagon this past week, I got run over by it and then dragged for a few days. It was a combination of feeling defeated by slow progress (or no progress?), getting sick, and a schedule at work that hasn't given me any kind of break.

But those are all excuses. Because the truth is I may have had obstacles in the way of best-laid plans, and I may not have been able to work out as much as I wanted to, but there's no reason I couldn't have at least stayed on that damn wagon.

But the week is done. And so are my excuses. I started this morning with an awesome healthy breakfast and worked out during naptime and snacked on fruit. And I'm ready to take on a new week.

This week, I plan on dragging the wagon behind me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not Whole Yet.

 I feel lately like I am working on ME in phases.

Not linear phases, even. Strange phases that start and stop and overlap. There aren't enough hours in the day to give energy to everything that piques my interest and to every bit of motivation for self-betterment I experience.

I'm piecing it together. It's not a whole picture yet and I honestly can't say I see a time when it will be. Right now I want to do X so that in a few years I can do Y, but in order to do that A, B, and C must be in order.

It's tiring, sometimes. It's exhausting to try to remember which iron is in which fire and why the crap I bothered to put it there in the first place.

And then I remember I'm happiest when I keep it simple. Simple goals. Simple relationships. Simple home. Simple fun. Simple health. Simple food.

I have to remind myself to put good out there, into the great unknown that we all share so that it can spread and lay seeds of good elsewhere. I have to remember NOT to put good out there, into the great unknown we all share so that I can get it back someday. I have to remember to bite my tongue when someone makes me crazy because it's the kind thing to do, not because I am afraid of being caught. I have to care for myself so that my kids can learn to do the same when they are older.

I used to say I love to bake, but hate to cook. That cooking was a waste because no one appreciates it. It might take 40 minutes to make a dinner that my husband and son can polish off in less than 4. "Why bother?" I would say.

But when it looks like this, it seems like maybe it's worth it after all:

Cous Cous, pan seared chicken with garlic, cucumber, tomato, corn off the cob, black beans (drain and rinse) and scallions.

Somewhere along the line, I realized that the memories I want for my kids are not necessarily the ones we're actively creating. We eliminated background noise. Going out to eat during the week. Arguments over where the shoes should go at night.

We created a quiet home. Music while the kids play. The sights and smells of dinner being made with love. Healthy and hearty foods. Shoe baskets for each family member.

(What? The shoes everywhere could drive a girl batty!)

Sometimes we keep the kids up a little late, and night swim. We watch the stars pull their faces through the night sky. We watch the kids watching the stars. We carry damp naked bodies, sticky with honeydew drippings and warm with fatigue, up to the bath. We sing songs about washing our hair; brushing our teeth. We tuck into bed and kiss and 'ting tongs' and kiss once more. We sit downstairs and await the first little bunny hops from upstairs and tell them to 'get back in bed'. They protest, but secretly I think they love it. I think they love the routine. The warm soapy water and cool green lotion and soft blankets on clean skin and mommy and daddy shushing them and admonishing them to bed.

The safety. The security. The love.

The smell of garlic lingering in the kitchen. The dishsoap bubbles crackling and leaving little prints all over the dirty dishes.

All I can do is hope that someday, these things are part of their memories of a happy childhood.

Monday, August 8, 2011


A new school year starts today. Luca is in her 2nd year of preschool (too young for Kindy just yet), Rohan is back at Laura's after a summer hiatus from daycare, and Darrick's back in the classroom.
I had some proud moments dropping off the kids this morning. Being able to tell Laura that Rohan is potty trained ("Even at naptime?" "Yes! Even at naptime! Shoot, almost overnight already!!!") was definitely mom-brag worthy. And dropping off Luca at school only to see her walk right in and hug her old teachers made this Monday morning so amazing. I'm excited for a new year for her and can't wait to see how much fun they both have at school and daycare.

I promise, she is wearing shorts under that.

The only thing I'm nervous about? Coaching started Friday for Darrick, so the pick-ups are squarely on my shoulders from now through February for the most part! I'm on a new work schedule which is going to take some work to figure out, coming in earlier and leaving by 4 at the latest so I can have both kids in the car by 5. Should be interesting. Thank goodness I have my amazing mom not 2 minutes from daycare, just in case I need back-up now and then.

It should also be noted, we finally bit the bullet and cut Rohan's hair. I never thought I'd let my son's hair grow too long, but Rohan has exceptionally beautiful hair for a little boy. It's super blonde and thick and shiny and soft. In addition, it grows really fast so haircuts don't happen as often as they should. It was getting embarassingly long, as you can see here:

This is also an exceptionally bad picture of him, but let's just say we were verging on rat-tail territoy in the back. We started making jokes about braiding and beading it.

But look at how amazing that hair is! There are a LOT of women in Scottsdale who pay a pretty penny every 6 weeks to try to get hair this blonde.

But when I came home from work last week to find his sister trying to sit him down for a pretend "Free-Off Haircut" I got the message.

Him? Not so much with the shorts. Yes, my son owns pants. No, he doesn't like to wear them. Please see 'potty trained' above.

My sister-in-law offered to cut it for us on Sunday, but then my husband took the kids to visit his parents on Saturday night and my mother in law took her kitchen scissors to his bangs, then straight back over his ears. I didn't take a picture because I couldn't bear to, but suffice it to say he looked a lot like this:

From here.

So now it looks more like this. Super cute AND super grown up! Ack! Where'd my baby?

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I'm not taking any kind of intentional break from blogging. I was on 'vacation' for 10 days, most of which was spent lounging, snuggling on the couch, watching movies, going to museums, and napping with my family. We closed out vacation with a 3 night camping trip, and since then both Darrick and I have dove back into work. School starts for him tomorrow, and that means it starts for Luca tomorrow too and Rohan goes back to daycare 3 days a week. In addition to teaching and coaching wrestling, Darrick was offered a coaching job for the JV "B" Football team (aka the guys who weren't good enough to make the squad yet, but who are too young and/or inexperienced to rule out entirely, so they get the "B" squad to keep them interested and get them some practice). My husband knows almost nothing about football, other than what the casual watches-football-for-an-excuse-to-drink-beer-and-eat-wings knows, so it's going to be a huge learning curve, but it's a great opportunity for him and given the economy in AZ any chance to secure his spot at the school is a no-brainer.

So, we've been busy. And I've been lazy about writing. Sometimes, living this gets in the way of writing about it. And I'm ok with that.

3 little beasts ready to go camping.

Mad love for these two. They are troopers and were best buddies the whole trip.

Morning giggles.

My love.

Watching the world go by.
Things I love about this picture: we're all in it, Luca's finger is wrapped in a lamb's ear bandage made by daddy, Rohan's grubby hands in the lower right corner, I look like I have a waist.

Museum. Rohan was riveted by a volunteer's explanation of all the dinosaur 'parts' including a tooth and a toenail.

Super Rohan. He also got a star on his chest, but I don't have a good photo.

Snow White demanded a heavy application of make-up.

No words. Just love.

Cuddle Puddle 2011.


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