Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Haiku

Dandelions say
it is spring, but shivering
wind says not quite yet.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Three Year-Old Logic

After my shower tonight, I stepped out of the shower to see the blinds open wide, which allows a neighborhood view right into my bathroom. Shocked and surprised, I immediately scolded Little Sister, who was standing right next to the window.

“I didn’t do it,” she said.

“Yes, you did,” I retorted, using at least a 3rd grade level of maturity. Give me a break. I was naked for the neighborhood.

“You didn’t see me do it,” she insisted, baffled as to how I would know if I didn’t see it. Then a quiet resignation to the fact that she was caught. “Okay,” she said. And she shut the blinds.

I will apologize to the neighbors tomorrow.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Snow Days

It has been a week of snow. Cancelled activities. Home time. Ah…..A breather from the otherwise fast pace of our weekly routines. Actually, we only cancelled a couple of things. We planned on staying home today anyway. We could probably get out, but I don’t really see why. The roads are icy. We have the flexibility to stay home and take things easier. So, we are.

Interestingly, I see a lot of posts from people on my Facebook page or emails from various groups complaining about being stuck at home. It’s really only day two. Well, maybe day two and a half because schools were being cancelled as soon as noon on Monday.

I get the anxiety of having exciting things cancelled. For example, I know some friends who have been stressed out about whether or not they can make their Thanksgiving travel plans. Yet, I am surprised at the number of people who simply don’t feel like they can stay home another day. The cabin fever is fascinating.

It’s not that my kids haven’t had moments where they claim boredom. They have. And while I am always ready with the offer to help with laundry if they are really that bored (They are not!), I see a tremendous amount of benefit in letting them experience that boredom and power through to find something worthwhile. Sometimes they get stuck. And the older ones have an easier time coping with that then my 3 year-old. I did find myself getting out the play-dough and the chalk and other things that I generally reserve for moments where I really need to entertain that little person. But she has also made a lot of her own fun the past couple of days. Case in point: She developed a new game, which entails her trying to be very quiet (while giggling to herself with anticipation of the fun she will have) and running to sneak up on me and surprise me while I am working in the kitchen. I show her my surprise and she squeals with delight and runs away. This kept her busy for a good part of the day and tired her out, too, as she is running on her little legs the whole time.

Part of why it works for us, too, is that my kids don’t equate a snow day with a day “off.” We actually get more academics done on snow days because there are fewer social engagements and enrichment activities to keep us busy. The fact is, there are always academics and lessons we can do given extra time. So, their attitude isn’t necessarily one that expects snow days to be special, and they aren’t aching from missing their regularly scheduled lives. They are actually just living a version of the regularly scheduled lives with snow outside the window.

I feel lucky that my house is comfortable and that my family has ample means of entertainment so that we can survive – even thrive – for a few days of a slower pace at home. I feel lucky that I have the luxury of a flexible life that allows my kids to homeschool.

In fairness, we are not isolated. We walked to the library yesterday and picked up some books. We can walk around the neighborhood and enjoy the weather with our neighbors. We also have plenty of food, heat, electricity and all of our creature comforts. Also speaking fairly, our house is spacious. We have plenty of room for kids to run up and down the halls, bounce around, and get space from one another. It’s hard to find a downside in a few days at home to catch up on things and relax a bit.

And thus, I have so much about which to feel thankful today.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Losing It

Tonight, my husband and I were discussing a friend who is having trouble.

Big Sister overheard and said, “She’s losing it. You know about that, Mom. You have lost it before.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010


We had a combined birthday party for Middle Sister and Little Sister today. It was lots of fun.

At the end of the day, I was chatting with Middle Sister and she said, “You know, age doesn’t really matter. If no one invented birthdays, we would just go along growing and no one would know how old we are and it would all be okay.” Just like a homeschooler to come up with such an idea.

Which brings me to this lovely video of a part of a lecture by Sir Ken Robinson. While his focus is on changing the educational systems in the west, he makes the case for homeschooling over and over (whether or not he intends to do so). Tailor-made education. Relevance and real life experience over intense focus on the abstractions of academia. Not putting kids together based solely on their ages – like their “date of manufacture” is their most important characteristic. Worth a watch and listen whether you homeschool or not.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Growing Up

About to turn 6, Middle Sister lately wants to figure out what she will be when she grows up. Options include a veterinarian and a midwife.  I find myself feeling proud that she considers these professions valuable (because it means she shares my values, of course) and happy that she feels confident enough that she can become what she wants to in her life.

The newest idea she expressed the other day.  "Mommy, I think that when I grow up, I will be a lawyer so I can stay home with my kids like you do."

Ack!  This did not leave me feeling proud or happy.  It felt dreadful:  (1) to be reminded that I invested so much of my money and time in a career that I intended to keep for the long term, and it only lasted 6 years;  and (2) to think that my kid sees the value of my legal background as being someone who can stay home with her kids. 

I am perfectly happy if she decides to be a parent and focus her parenting life on her children rather than another career.  I am also perfectly happy if she never has kids.  And just as happy if she has kids and a busy career.  So long as it's what she wants, that will be the right thing for her.  But I still find myself cringing when my professional life is characterized as anything that sounds like "homemaker," which was actually listed on the documents for a change in our insurance plan recently.  Do not think that I let that one slide.  My insurance agent now knows very clearly that I find the term offensive, especially when I am an income-earner in my family. 

Granted, that income is sparse.  And I spend more on continuing education expenses to maintain the bar licensed that I don't use than I make on my freelance writing career.  But frankly both numbers are low enough as to lack significance in my family's budget.

This is all an important reminder to me that my kids need to see more of me than the caregiver.  They need the reminder that part of my work is the work that I do to care for the family and homeschool the kids; but that part of my work is also professional and valuable in a free market.  The fact is that I usually work when they are asleep.  I still use the midnight to 2 AM schedule as my best time for focus and creativity.  I guess it's back to sharing magazine articles I have written.  Fortunately, they will probably enjoy reading about inducing lactation in adoptive mothers.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A New Pet

One of the saddest moments that our family has yet experienced happened this summer when our cat died. Our 16 year-old Puck was old, sick, and grumpy for the past several years. We all knew she was living on borrowed time. Yet, when it came time to let her go, we were incredibly sad. It was far more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. There were so many tears and I still miss her dreadfully. Every single day, I notice something outside and wonder if it’s Puck sitting outside the back door waiting for someone to let her in. Every night when I am here writing while the rest of the house sleeps, I feel like she might come and rub against my leg while I sit at my desk.

Puck was a grumpy cat who preferred to be the only cat in the family for her whole life. Despite the fact that she came to live with me when she was just 8 weeks old and I loved her immensely, she never sat in my lap until the week before she died. She was just not a lap cat. So, we tried other pets to fulfill our craving for a lap animal. But the situation was always miserable and we found that the only way for peace in our house was for Puck to live as the only cat. And forget about a dog. She could not have tolerated that. She only tolerated the guinea pigs because they are basically furry lumps that never bothered her.

As the children grew, they also wanted other pets. And our refrain was, “That won’t work for Puck.” Knowing that the cat was old and in ill health, the kids than began their own refrain. “When Puck dies….” followed by whatever animal wishes they had at the moment. Usually it was, “…can we get a dog?” or “…can we get three kittens?” or “ can we get bunnies?”

Two things have happened now that Puck has finally died. The kids are far sadder than they expected to be. Many of the tears over Puck have been mine. But the rest of the family has cried considerably over her.

The second thing is that the request for pets has begun. I asked the kids to wait. I can’t even think about a new pet yet. It’s just too much. I have not even cleaned up all of the messes left by the old, dead cat or even scattered her ashes (yes, we had the cat cremated).

But Big Sister could not resist asking for a pet when she found the latest object of her affection. We took a homeschool tour of an exotic pet farm this week. And Big Sister hugged me and said with great seriousness and intense passion, “Mommy, can we please get a wallaby?!”

Look and see. Pretty cute. But not going to happen.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Small World, Big World

I have had a heck of a week getting back into the swing of fall. After a good time with some late summer travel, re-entry has been difficult. I am still mired in laundry and email to answer. My house is a mess and we all want to stay home and relax. Yet, the kids have classes and we all have commitments, so we have been on the go all week. I am trying to get them back into the swing of doing academics after a break for our vacations. I am trying to get myself back into the swing of preparing, reviewing, and assisting with academics after the break for our vacations.

To top it off, I have been spending the whole week obsessing over what to feed my children while we are on-the-go since Middle Sister’s dietary restrictions are going to require that she eat gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. So, my pickiest child has to give up her favorite convenience foods. No more sandwiches (and Dear Reader, I have tried to encourage her acceptance of gluten-free alternatives). No more string cheese. No more snack bars. My job just got a lot harder.

Now I get to creatively plan healthy allergen-free meals that Middle Sister will eat (no small task) AND prepare them (because Middle Sister has already rejected all healthy convenient pre-prepared foods) all before we leave the house in the morning, all the while trying to rally the slow-moving we-are-not-morning-people children and get them ready for the day.

This is all to say that I have been anxious and sort of feeling sorry for myself this week. I have not slept well. I have had my notorious packing nightmares (wherein I have to pack in a hurry and the objects I need to pack magically multiply so that I run out of time, space, or both, before some dream-deadline occurs). As with all changes in schedule, by Thursday, I am a wreck.

This Thursday, I left the house at 10:30 so I could get to the kids’ drama program and learn what the characters will be for the play that I will write for them to perform. And we literally spent the entire day out. Tired Little Sister had no nap. It was a long day.

Then, at 5:30, I got to shift gears. My dear husband met me at one of the kids’ classes to take over. I went to a World Affairs Council Event and heard guest speakers from Ashesi University in Ghana. Ashesi, which means “beginning” is a University that is breaking new ground in African Education. And graduating Africans with the skills to solve the problems of Africans. It’s brilliant , really. And completely simple. Why not trust that Africans can handle their own country and their own lives better? Especially when provided with the opportunities that a great education can offer them. I listened to a discussion about investment in African instead of donations and relief in Africa. I listened to two women graduates who are making a difference in the world, starting with their own countries. I heard a little about the 200 children who live at the unique orphanage at the Village of Hope. I heard about mircolending that works.

And I thought how narrow my perspective has been this week. What an amazing world and what a lot of good things can happen within it.

I suppose it’s okay to have that narrow view now and again. It’s how I maintain some sense of sanity when everything is overwhelming. Just focus on one small thing at a time. But it was good to be reminded about how big a world it is.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


We bought a desk for Little Sister on craigslist. It has a few marker lines on the top. She notices these lines far more than I expected she would. Perhaps because we have had trouble with her drawing on things that do not wish to be covered with marker ink.

Today, she was sitting at the desk, slathering a long, wet lick along the top of the desk, following the line of the marker marks.

I said, “Honey, don’t lick that. It’s yucky.”

She said, “I need to lick it.”

I said, “Why do you feel the need to lick it?”

She said, “Because it’s dirty!”


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Irony of the Day

Middle sister wants to play school. With her friend who goes to school. Friend does not find the game fun or interesting. She also quickly realizes that middle sister does not know some of the nuances of real school. “Should we have a school dog?” middle sister asks.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I have recently learned something new about child development. Apparently two year-olds are at a stage of development wherein attachment is “polarized.” This means they can only hold one significant attachment in mind at a time. That can shift from moment to moment, but it’s just a limitation they have. This explains why some kids insist that only Mommy can change the diaper, and a few minutes later claim that only Daddy can read a book. This seemingly irrational behavior has a place and a developmental purpose, which is reassuring if you are wondering if you are raising a toddler with multiple personality disorder.

I found that explaining this fact to my 2 year-old’s older sisters made a world of difference to them as well. We went from a situation in which my kids were hurt, disappointed, and confused that their little sister would fawn all over one and rebuff the kind efforts of the other.

Now that they understand this, they know their little sister admires and loves them both, and that it’s just that she can only focus on that love and admiration for one of them at a time.

The other day, when asked if she would help her Little Sis put toothpaste on her toothbrush, Middle Sister wisely said, “It all depends if she chooses me to help her today. It’s out of my control.”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Week in Haiku

Corn, chips, cheese, fries, crumbs,
Under the table today.
Looks like time to sweep.

Chilly, rainy 4th.
Fireworks despite the chill.
Now kids melt in shade.

Sleepover without
much sleep. Tooth fairy visits.
Violet likes Sophie.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Over The Hump

It’s official. I have now been away from the practice of law longer than I practiced it. I was in practice for 6+ years. And now I have been away for 7. Holy crap. That’s 13 years. This graduation year is 14 years out of law school. Yikes! I didn’t think I was that old.

I have certainly done things to exercise my legal skills since leaving the practice, either as a volunteer or in my subsequent jobs. But the longer I am away from the practice, the less realistic it seems that I will ever go back. And since homeschooling is my current plan, I envision myself ready for serious employment right around the time that I will be ready to start spending time traveling and cutting back on the stress of work.

Life is too short for me to want to start counting every six minute increment again.

Of course, that’s all easy for me to say since I have a spouse who is willing to earn an income to support our family’s needs and a great many of our wants. I literally keep my bar license active at this point because being a lawyer has become my fall back career. My security blanket in case I ever need to earn a substantial income again. To think that I put forth all of that education, money, and anxiety to have a prestigious fall back career is sort of ridiculous. But it’s true.

And it’s also true that there are probably at least a hundred reasons why I might want to revisit my legal career in a different way than the way I experienced it before. Without a doubt, there are good things that I could do to fill my cup and help others with the credentials and privilege thereof.

But let’s be clear. I did not come to legal practice as a do-gooder. I didn’t come to it to earn a lot of money, either. I came to it because I thought I would love the work enough to want to do it for my entire career. I enjoyed the writing, the research, the problem solving, the client interactions, and the collegiality. I thought this would sustain me for a long and illustrious career. I feel foolish now that I was so sadly mistaken.

To be fair, while the good things were very good, there were negatives that I didn’t anticipate. I didn’t realize that along with those things that I loved would also come gender discrimination, abusive clients, more abusive opposing counsel, and over the top stress and anxiety.

Ah, the stress and anxiety. There is something about holding the fate of your clients in your hands, ethical obligations that are fuzzy at best in so many situations, and a high volume workload (leading to the potential for occasional errors) that really raise one’s blood pressure. And if you make the single error that violates the ethical obligations, you can watch your license to practice evaporate and see the story of your error published for the eyes of every one of your colleagues to read in the monthly bar journal. I don’t miss those things one tiny bit. While the privileges of practice are great, the responsibilities can seem overwhelming.

I spent the first few years of my career feeling like a fraud. I wondered when someone would find out that I didn’t really know what I was doing. I felt incompetent on a daily basis, and noted as well that I was faced with an ethical rule that required I be competent or lose my license to practice. Perspective tells me that all new lawyers go through this sense of insecurity. Or at least most of the best ones do. Law school gives us a complex that we are idiots. Opposing counsel and sometimes even attorneys in our own offices reinforce it on a daily basis. Quick to criticize, sometimes in the most unprofessional of ways, lawyers are not known for their supportive and soothing learning environments that they create for their baby lawyers.

That insecurity taught me two things. First, it taught me that I was indeed competent and even good at my job. I figured things out. I learned by doing. I sought out feedback and guidance. I tried and tried again until I got things right. My track record spoke for itself. My numbers were strong and my clients were satisfied. My professional relationships were positive and my efficiency was excellent. (All of which is why I stumped so many when I walked away from my job.) The insecurity gave me the motivation to learn to be a really good lawyer.

The second thing my insecure baby lawyer days taught me is that life is an immersion learning program. Every new job must be tackled by just putting one foot in front of the other to do the work required. Hour by hour. Day by day. Week by week. Month by month. Year by year. You think it over. You do some research. You try things. You assess. You try again. Rinse and repeat. It’s how I got through the sleepless nights of the newborn days, the temper tantrums of the toddler days, and the sassy remarks of the grade-schooler days. It’s literally how I approach everything, because there is no map for my life. I have to figure it out for myself.

Being a baby lawyer is not the only time I have felt like a fumbling fool. And it won’t be the last. And no doubt, were I to go back to the practice, I would revisit those old feelings.

But now I am over the hump, so to speak, farther away from those days than the time I enjoyed in them. And I am not sure how I feel about it. I have mixed feelings about leaving it all behind, even if this is only a symbolic abandonment. Maybe I should rethink my perspective, though. I worked in the legal profession in support roles for three full years before law school and spend three years in law school. Maybe I’ll tack another 6 years on my 6 years of practice. That gives me another six years before I need to think about the magnitude of the passage of time in my professional life.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Home Made Girl

Conversation last night at a party:

Two little girls joking about babies coming from a store. One asked, what store I got Middle Sister from.

I said, “I didn’t get her from a store. I made her myself.”

They said, “We know she didn’t really come from a store, but what store would she have come from?”

I stayed the course. “She’s home made.”

One girl said, “She came from the hospital store!”

I said, “She was really home made. She was born at home.”

Big eyes. Pause.

I continue. “She was actually born in a hot tub!”

Eyes grow wider.

“Why was she born in a hot tub?!”

I explained, “That’s where I was when she was ready to come out. I had someone bring a hot tub to my bedroom, so she was born right there in a tub in my bedroom.”

“How could she breathe underwater?” they wanted to know.

“Since she was in water in the amniotic fluid in my belly, she didn’t try to breathe in the few second she was under water in the tub. She just waited to take a breath until she was out of the tub.”

Needless to say, the girls were very impressed.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

This Little Piggie

Baby Sister's version of the old favorite piggie game:

This pig went to market.
This pig went home.
This pig had goo-ga.
This pig had no goo-ga.
This pig had goo-ga.
This pig had no goo-ga.
This pig had goo-ga.
This pig had no goo-ga.
This pig had goo-ga.
This pig had no goo-ga.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Exclusion Exercise

We tried something new at the Girl Scout meeting this week.

“We are going to play a game and I will pick everyone who gets to play!” said Jen. All of the girls bounced around, waving their hands in the air, hoping to be picked. I joined them, showing my enthusiasm for the game with the same bouncing and waving. One by one, Jen picked every girl. They lined up against the wall. I sat alone.

First, one girl pointed out that she needed to pick me, too.

Jen said, “No. We only need this many players. I am in charge of this game and I don’t need anyone else.”

I then said, “Wait a minute. I want to play, too! This isn’t fair. I am really mad. I am so mad that I want to do something mean to you. I feel left out and I don’t like it!”

The girls were stunned. But only for a minute. Then the wheels started to turn.

Then one girl, thinking of how Jen could include me, said, “What if she is your helper?”

Jen said, “I don’t need any helpers.”

One girl stepped out of line, sat by me, and said, “She can have my spot.”

Three other girls got out of line and said they didn’t want to play, so I could have their spots, too. The line started to waver. No one liked the idea of a game like this anymore.

So, we let them off the hook. This WAS the game, we explained. We wanted to talk about feeling left out. We were so impressed with the very mature and thoughtful reactions that our girls showed when they saw me feeling left out. We talked about how everyone has been left out before, and how everyone has probably left someone out before, too. We told the girls that we wanted to remind them that when they see someone who is left out, they can do something about it. They can make a difference by using some of the skills they just demonstrated. They can give another girl a chance to be included. They can help.

I was so touched by their obvious compassion. They showed that they really can take care of each other. They showed the skills that they need to be able to be good friends and to treat one another with gentle respect. I felt choked up about it, completely surprised with how adept they were at reading the situation and how brave they were to do something about it.

But what about the game, they wanted to know. When can we play the game?!

Jen and I looked at each other. We hadn’t thought of a game. We thought the exercise was enough. But the kids felt cheated out of a game! So, I took them to the gym and ran around for 10 minutes with one of the dads. We played their favorite game, which I think they made up with the help of this dad: Bulldozer Dude. The treat was that I would play with them (which I usually do not do).

When we were home, I asked my oldest kid, who often provides me critical feedback about how our Girl Scout meetings go, “What did you think of our game today? Do you think we got the point across well?”

“Well, you got the point across that if a grown up offers you a game, you had better be sure that grown up intends to play one with you.” She paused. “And I guess the point about how it feels to be left out.”

Still, I think that the kids learned some things tonight. And so did I. Don’t joke about playing games. Kids take that offer seriously.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mother's Day A Week Later

My two biggest wishes for Mother’s Day were: (1) I didn’t want to cook or clean and (2) I wanted to eat well and have a clean house.

The day began with a leaky diaper, which meant laundry first thing. Cleaning. Damn. Then I came downstairs to see what wonderful meal my family had begun for breakfast. Nothing. Husband and two of the kids ate. Nothing in the house other than that which I would have to prepare for myself. Hopeful, I asked, “What’s for breakfast?” The disappointing response from my spouse was, “Whatever you want to make.” The two kids who allegedly ate then started to complain, along with the third non-eater, that they were still hungry.

Rather than belabor the emotional outburst that I am not happy to have had while my husband attended to yard work that he wanted to do rather than help with the laundry or the feeding of the family, I will jump ahead. I got the family organized to go out for an adventure in the park with the kids’ new scooters and my skates.

When I was pulling into the parking lot at the food co-op, my husband asked what we are doing here. I explained that I needed to eat. He was completely surprised that I hadn’t made a meal and fed the children. I left him in the car.

Finally, food in hand, we grabbed scooters and a stroller and headed out at the park. It was Big Sister and Middle Sister’s first weekend with their scooters. They scooted away, working on their balance, learning how to coast. Little Sister sat in the buggy, happy to be on a stroll, but refusing to let anyone other than Mommy push. When we got to the beach, about 1/2 of a mile into the trip, we rested and had a picnic. Suddenly things were looking up.

With tired kids who didn’t want to scoot any more, we headed back rather than continuing around the trail. I left them all at the playground, put on my skates and skated around the trail by myself. After feeling a lot wobbly (having not been in said skates for about 9 years now), I grew more comfortable and enjoyed a brief peak at the freedom and rhythm that I so much enjoyed about skating back in the day. Refreshed, I joined my family for some playground time.

Earlier, we had been invited to brunch with friends, but I was too grumpy to enjoy a social time with friends. After a picnic and a little sweat at the park, I felt much more amiable. We decided to visit the friends, which turned into a lovely social evening with Ethiopian take-out, both of which I always find incredibly satisfying.

Why did I spend most of my life not knowing Ethiopian food? I have a mission to make up for lost time and enjoy as much of it as possible for the duration of my life. I consider my children very lucky that they know so many ethnic foods that I did not, despite the fact that I grew up in a far more diverse community than the one in which I now live. They don’t yet realize how cool I am, though, because they had to come home and eat cereal when we were done.

We finished changing the bedding, and got to bed with me in a decent mood. The highlight of the day was receiving my gifts from the kids. Big Sister wrote me a love letter with her very best pencil work. Middle Sister wrote me a song and played it on the piano for me. She also made me a string with beads and a little doll from craft sticks and tape – both things she would appreciate herself. And, under Big Sister’s tutelage, Little Sister painted a wooden craft doll for me. This was the first year they all did this without help from Dad. Which pleases me on the one hand, and makes me wonder what the heck Dad was doing on the other.

I like to think of this as the Mother’s Day that was saved by the sweetness of my kids, the fun of friends, a picnic, sweat, and my efforts to maintain a positive perspective. Because while I am still telling a story of frustration and disappointment with my spouse, I have decided to love him anyway. He did, after all, help with the laundry, watch the kids while I skated, and pick up the dinner. And there isn’t a lot to be gained by staying mad at him.

I guess next year, I need to be more specific.
I hope the rest of my mama friends had wonderful Mother’s Days. I welcome any tips on how to properly educate one’s spouse on the art of facilitating a satisfying Mother’s Day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

The day began with a leaky diaper, which soaked half of my bed. It progressed with no food and grumpy interactions. I received the most wonderful gifts from my children, who wrote me love letters and a song. Scooter riding, walking, picnic in the park, rollerblading by myself for a short break, dinner with friends, Quiddler game, and ended with clean sheets.

I'll call it a Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I'm Hungry

My family is on an elimination diet right now to deal with some allergy issues in one of the kids. As a result, we are avoiding dairy, wheat, egg, gluten, and various other grains. It is a huge hassle. It's very difficult to find convenience foods and almost impossible to expect anyone to accommodate our dietary requirements. It nearly destroys social eating. It's a drag.

As a result of the allergy diet, I am now obsessed with feeding my family. I feel like I spend most of my time planning and preparing food, and the other half cleaning up after the preparation and feeding.

To top it off, the kids are lukewarm on just about every new food that we try. I work hard on finding new options, cook them from scratch with a variety of hard to find ingredients, and they are disappointed by what I make. I ask them what they WANT me to make. In their dreams, what would they eat, I ask. They say, "I don't know."

And while this is all very frustrating, the most frustrating moment of this ordeal happened the other night.

After making a big dinner with lots of choices, including special requests for two of the children (which they both ate, much to my delight), oldest of the two said children came into the room. I had just started the dishwasher and was washing the last pot, happy to be finally done with the cooking and cleaning for the evening. Oldest child who walked into the room, did so with these words: "I'm hungry."


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Potty Progress and Regress

It has been weeks now since V has been dry. She refuses diapers during the day, uses the potty, and will wear diapers for bed, but is generally dry upon waking. Such independence. Such a reduction in laundry! Suddenly it shifted, quickly. And she is missing the toilet 4-5 times a day. She refuses to go when I know she needs to go. She stalls and gets there only when she is desperate, and pees all over the bathroom floor. Or worse yet, on the stool she uses to get onto the potty. We have gone from diapers to washing whole outfits because she soaks herself each time.

Today, we were at a science group meeting at another family’s house. The kids were having fun playing in the baby’s room, where she has a fun tent with plastic balls inside, ala Ikea ball room. Guess who peed in the balls? Sure enough.

I guess this is my reminder not to get too complacent with the assumption that milestones mean a constantly forward progression. Or a reminder that forward progress is not always apparent and presented as we expect.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I am feeling annoyed.

A woman who chairs a committee upon which I sit as a volunteer, called me today to ask me not to knit during meetings of the committee. She said that she feels concerned about the impression that I give others because they may believe that I am not paying attention. She said she could tell that I was indeed paying attention. But she thought that others might not be able to tell that I am paying attention.

She is older than I am, and in a socially conservative profession. She is also obviously not a knitter, because I was crocheting. So, I can understand that maybe she doesn’t understand my perspective.

My response to her was to thank her for bringing up an issue that concerned her. I also explained that I find sitting still and listening to be difficult, and that I am a more active and engaged listener when I am doing something with my hands. I advised her that most people around the room are surfing the internet or checking their emails during the meeting, and that I have no such temptation to actually be ignoring the meeting because my hands are too busy to trying to act sly by using the internet instead of listening at the meeting. I told her that knitting is more respectful, it seemed to me, than getting up and moving around the room, or than checking my email.

I did not tell her (and maybe I should have) that I have actually been thanked for bringing knitting along with me to seminars from astute seminar providers, who realize that I am listening and not checking email if my hands are otherwise engaged. The last seminar I attended had a room full of people with laptops. The speaker called out people who appeared to be following along with the course materials on their screens. He asked them to read an excerpt. Each time, it was clear they were not following along. They all declined to read. They were surfing the net. Every single time. Really. He thanked me for bringing along my knitting. Said he knew I was listening.

So, back to my conversation with this woman. She insisted that regardless of my true situation, I gave others the impression that I was not paying attention. I said, well, given my need to keep myself busy to actively listen, what do you suggest?

She said, “Sit still.” She went on to say, well I understand that you feel like this helps you listen, but it just doesn’t look good. Ah, the appearance of things is more important than the reality.

So, I thanked her for letting me know about her concern. I was not overly enthusiastic, and I probably could have been warmer about it. I really do appreciate her telling me how she feels. But I am feeling so annoyed.

I get that she felt concerned. And I don’t want to upset her. But it seems that she is fine upsetting me. And that annoys me. I find myself more and more wanting to find solutions to problems that include understanding and compromise. I would much rather agree to disagree than be told that I need to sit still. For goodness sakes.

Unfortunately, my desire for understanding and compromise, where we all speak our minds and still find solutions that can work for everyone, tends to get me into trouble. I have had a few conflicts that I think come from this desire of mine (perhaps not artfully executed, I will admit) lately and they are all piling up and becoming a little more painful.

Let's also be clear. This profession that this woman is in does not necessarily value understanding and compromise. So, it's fair to say that it's probably not something she gets to do as often as I do in my role homeschooling three children.

I think that when I was willing to just not speak my mind, it was easier. When I did what I was told without feeling annoyed, it was easier. Wait a minute. When was that? Did I ever do that? Well, a lot more than I do lately.

I also think that if it was a man doing what I was doing, she would not have said anything. But that is perhaps my own issues speaking to the situation. Finally, I wonder why she thinks that only she can tell that I am paying attention. Does she think she can see that I am paying attention and assume that the rest of the room is full of dolts who don't know better? Okay, that's not very generous. But, I still wonder why if she can see that I am paying attention, she worries that others won't.

So, now, what to do about this situation? Not bring any yarn to meetings because I know it will offend this woman? Bring the yarn and see what the consequences will be? Quit the committee (because I am having other issues with it anyway) even though it would be before the end of my commitment, and it is a professional committee that could someday be meaningful if I ever need to go back to work and earn some real money? Bring it up on the agenda, and explain so everyone can understand that I am using yarn as a listening tool and agree to put the yarn down when guests are in the room? I really like the latter idea, but I suspect it will irk said Chair. What to do? What to do?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow Days

Recently, I went snowboarding with my good friend, Ginny, and her kids. The kids take weekly ski lessons and their parents get to do some skiing while the kids are in ski school. I tagged along with them since Ginny could use an adult companion and I could use a friend to hang with on the mountain.

My husband and I used to snowboard pretty much every weekend and sometimes more often. We took lovely snowy vacations. We laughed in the face of big bumps, loved the black diamond runs, hopped over obstacles, dropped over ledges into big snowy bowls, and could get off the lift without falling (which is a significant skill on a snowboard!). He even asked me to marry him at the top of Stevens Pass, and our friends bought us season passes as a wedding gift. Our snow days were full of romance and fun. We haven’t snowboarded together in eight years. It often feels like that era has ended for us.

Yet, here I was with Ginny, 8 years from my last time at Stevens Pass. While it was not a day I would have chosen when I used to be able to choose – hard pack, overcast, and blech – it was fun to be back. It hasn’t been a full 8 years away from my board, but nearly so. I had one half day almost three years ago. And that is it. I’ll admit I was a little nervous.

I can now attest to the fact that my muscles have memory. But it’s also true that they need reminding. After an awkward start, it felt almost normal again (I only wiped out getting off the lift once). And it felt sort of awesome.

I did notice some differences from my wicked snowboarding experiences of yesteryear (aside from the fact that I used to say “wicked” and now I do not, unless I am reading a fairy tale). Yet it’s hard to know what caused the differences. For example, did the fact that I had to adjust my leash to a bigger size mean that my calf muscle is stronger from carrying a toddler in my backpack every day? No, I don’t think so, either.

After several runs, I got off the lift gracefully on the outside (and quaking on the inside). And I found myself on steeps on the back side of Stevens, nostalgically finding a path down the ungroomed concrete-like bumps.

And I quickly had enough of that. Rather than continue to be abused by the bumps, I found the groomed runs more tolerable. This is indeed a difference. There was a time when I would rather ride concrete ridges any day than wide open groomers. Probably that time is over.

After three hours on the slopes, my legs were burning. I self-medicated with a glass of wine and noticed the full bars. I had no idea before how many people spent the afternoon on the ski hill in the bar. I had never seen this before. I was always rushing to eat and get back out for the rest of the day’s runs.

I was also struck by the weird culture of downhill. How did I not notice before all of the fancy jackets and obvious privilege? These people, were, after all, able to afford expensive gear and $63 lift tickets. And expensive food and drinks in the bar. Was I one of those people who did that without a second thought once? I think I was. Before we transitioned to one income and three kids.

Ginny’s kids seemed to be having a wonderful time (despite the two crashes her poor boy had, one of which ended the day with a ride down from ski patrol - not seriously injured, but sore and sad nonetheless). Yet, I noticed a million ways in which my kids would not have had a similarly fun time.

When my kids are old enough to ski, I always told myself, the whole family would start going up together. In the past couple of years, my friends with kids younger than my oldest have been putting their kids in ski schools, and then enjoying full days of downhill fun while the kids learn to ski. They kids like it, they say, and the parents enjoy the weekly snow time. With a two year-old at home, ski lessons would mean either separating the family every week for a long day, or bringing a two year-old to the ski hill and trying to entertain her for a full day. Somehow hanging out with my two year-old, the odor sweaty ski socks, and the squeak-clomp of ski boots all day does not grab me. Thus, I have just not summoned the energy to make it happen.

My older kids also are not super excited about taking ski lessons. They don’t relish the idea of being dropped off with a stranger and a group of other kids to do something that they feel is physically challenging. While I always envisioned enrolling them in ski school, the homeschooler in me realizes that they can learn to ski or snowboard just like I did, with a couple of pointers from friends and a lot of trial and error. Since I snowboard, I may not be the best person to provide ski lessons. Unless….I learn to downhill ski. It’s crazy, so I am not going to go there yet.

Likewise, my kids don’t have the tolerance for crashing and falling that Ginny’s kids do. They were horrified to learn that their little friend had a crash that ended his day on the slopes. They hold on to me for dear life when we get on roller skates on a flat rink. They do not crave speed. They do not welcome danger.

And that’s okay with me. I didn’t feel comfortable with the speed/danger/crashing stuff until I was in high school at the earliest. And I didn’t really embrace it until I was in college. And that still gave me a good ten years of hardcore snowboaring before I took my parenting hiatus.

What I did realize last month, when we tried cross country skiing as a family, is that everyone in my family can manage cross country skiing together. Baby Sister rides in the sled. The rest of us ski. Even I can go as fast as my 5 year-old on skis. And it’s probably good for them to see me tipping over and muddling through as much as they do. They will learn to balance and move on skis. But they will also have a model show what it’s like to struggle and learn a new physical skill.

I also note that there are some distinct advantages to cross country skiing that I never considered before trying it with my kids. For a lot less than the cost of lift tickets, we can enjoy a day of cross country skiing together. Rather than blasting down the hill and getting separated, or having to wait for someone who is slower, we can all ski together, chatting as we go. We never have to stop and sit on a cold lift in the wind. I don’t have to worry about my kids falling off the lift. And did I mention the cost of lift tickets? Yikes!

When Baby Sis is old enough to put planks on her feet, we will revisit our position. Maybe it will be time to consider some vertical. Until then, we will work on the kids’ cross country skills and enjoy family time that way together for a bit longer.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Inadequacies Revealed

Big Sister: Mom, you know how Little Sister has to find her breakfast in her carseat most mornings?

Me: What?! I feed her breakfast, though I guess I forgot today…..(furrowed brow)

Big Sister: Well, right now, she is eating a breadstick that she left in the car from last week. She saves food for later because she never knows when she might need it.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year in Review Haiku

Three kids grow so fast.
Homeschool schedule flexible,
but oh, so busy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Are You Kidding?

An editor contacted me in mid-December and asked if I could get an article done by January 4th. It was a pinch, she said, and I could decline. But I have such a difficult time turning down assignments. I figure it helps my future career if I am a reliable and responsive writer. Though I have no idea what my future career looks like, and I don’t know why I don’t consider what I do now my career. But those are questions for another day, I think.

In this situation, I suggested to this editor that I write an article that recycles some old research and she accepted. I figure that the research is always the hard part. If I just had to pound out an article, it’s easy breezy. Okay, I agreed.
Of course, holiday hoo-haw is always more than I expect it to be. We started the month with holiday activities, which included a downtown adventure with friends, a holiday choir concert for both big sisters, a holiday choir performance on TV for one of the kids, two performances of a play in which both big sisters participated, and a piano recital. In addition to our already full schedule of classes and activities, we made plans to make holiday gifts for friends and family, celebrated Hannukah, set and decorated our tree, made and decorated cookies, shipped a giant stack of gifts around the country, cleaned the house in preparation for entertaining, culled less-loved toys and personal items to donate to those who need them more than we do, and so on. Our holiday celebrations included gatherings with friends, and gatherings with family over multiple days. I still had to wrap gifts and make sure Santa’s orders were placed and received. Phew!

All of this hoo-haw plus a small article to write.

In the midst of holiday hoo-haw, I mentioned to two close friends that an editor asked for an article due January 4th. They said, well, of course you declined. Neither employed the slightest hint of sarcasm or ironic tone. Sheepishly, I said, well…..I said I would do it.

“ARE YOU KIDDING?” they both burst out.

It seems that they know me better than I should know myself. I think I should hire them next time I need to say no to someone.

Actually, the fact is that I am almost done with the article and it really hasn’t been painful at all. I did have an abundance of research that I haven’t yet fully employed and it was a familiar and easy topic for me. In fact, it has made me realize that I should try to do more of the same! If I could recycle my research and articles a few times, I could certainly earn more for my time. But the effort involved in pitching and building relationships with new editors is sort of out of my bandwidth at the moment. Maybe I will find some room for real career development when my youngest has grown a bit more. There is something about having a two year-old that is both magical and exhausting.

Despite the fact that I have accomplished my holiday goals thus far (well, with two gifts that I wanted to finish on time, but did not, though the receivers of the gifts are extremely easy-going and won’t mind the delay), it has been a little tighter than I wish. I have also had a difficult week with some digestive issues that are probably stress-related.

I always envision the relaxed, peaceful atmosphere of homeschooling and holiday time. And I then realize that the relaxed, peaceful atmosphere that homeschooling and holiday times can bring are really created by me for the rest of the family. I get a lot of help from my co-parent, and he works hard in high own right. But, it’s so often my work and effort that allows everyone else to sleep in and take life a little easier. Maybe this all pays off when the kids are old enough to appreciate what I do and help in a more meaningful way. I will let you know.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Time to Myself

I enjoyed the strange luxury of a day to myself to run errands. I bought holiday gifts, pet supplies, books, and craft supplies. I visited a dear friend and her new baby. I even sat down for 15 minutes (because who can spare time when there is so much to pack into one day?) to gobble down some lunch. By myself.

In some ways, it was heaven. And in some ways, it was dreadfully lonely.

At the end of the day, part of me still wanted to keep on driving and knock of some more errands without any helpers. But it was very nice to come home to my boisterous bunch. Well, except for the mess they made while I was gone....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why I Haven't Written

This tired mama
desperately craves more than
two hours of sleep at a stretch.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

CLE on Slavery

Went to such an intersting seminar about slavery last week (as I try to get enough CLE credits to maintain my license, which I do not use in any way). It reminded me that slavery, which was made legal by this very country at its inception, was debated even as the formation of the country was considered. This quote really grabbed me:

"Every master of slaves is born a petty tryrant." It's from Mason, of Virginia, during the Constitutional Convention.

Makes you wonder who wanted to be a petty tyrant. Or did they really disagree with Mason? Did they really find some moral high ground to justify such a tremendous violation of human rights?

I also wonder what the things that the leaders of our country have done to the indigenous people of our nation makes them...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Two and a Half Years

It has been two and a half years since anything has hung on our walls. We moved out for a year long remodel and the owners of the house we rented were fussy enough that we didn’t want to hang anything on the walls. It was not big deal because we didn’t really have the energy for extras. We packed away wall hangings for the duration of our remodel.

Then when we returned to our house in July of last year, the boxes sat in the living room. Framed photos and art. I was tired from moving twice in one year and having a baby in the meantime. I couldn’t muster the energy to hang things all around the house.

And the walls were sooooo pretty. It was almost impossible to think about banging nails into them. So was the whole house, though. New floors with nary a scratch. Perfect cabinets. Clean windows. Smooth counters. It felt too fancy for us. It was like someone accidentally gave me a Tiffany necklace when I was meant to have the JC Penney version.

I also worried what others might think of us when they saw our sparkling new, big house. Would they think that I am Tiffany fancy? Oh, don’t mind this big house, I would think, we are really JC Penney people. For goodness sakes, my kids’ favorite place to shop is the Goodwill.

Slowly, I have gotten used to the compliments we receive for our beautiful house. It really is lovely and I do appreciate how nice it is. I also have decorated it in my own Goodwill style, so I trust that people see the real me when they look around –and not some imposter who keeps her house clean and perfect and lives in the pages of a magazine.

We have also slowly banged up the cabinets, and floors. Someone chipped the counter. Several spots on the counter have stained. It’s a patina, I tell myself. Rather than a flaw, it shows patterns of use and reflects a house that is lived in.
And boy do we live in it. On any given day there may be oodles of kids running amuck, guinea pig poop and hay on the floor, insects in jars on the counter, science experiments in the kitchen, and art projects on the dining room table.

Our youngest child even drew with crayons on the pristine white window sills by the kitchen table. And now that our youngest is getting into the messy and destructive phases of life, it’s hard to be too concerned about keeping things perfect. There is something about having a two year old painting at the kitchen table that really loosens me up about messes.

So, this month, we unpacked the wall hangings. There are pictures of my children that they themselves did not remember or recognize. I revisited pictures of my past before children, friends from law school and college, my pet cat that grew up with me, and passed grandparents. It was like unpacking old friends. Eric and I hung the pictures around the house and found places for all of the photos. Once the first nail was banged into the wall, it was easy to muck of the rest of them.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homeschooling Parents

Big sister to middle sister: "You know, in some families, it's the dad who is homeschooled and the mom goes to work."

So true.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Middle child: Mommy, I want to know everything….like how your voice works…and how the water comes out of the faucet….and how the lights work….I want to know what it’s like on Mars….

This one kept asking, "Why?" to everything when she was just two. I kept telling her she was too young. That phase comes later. Apparently it was just a preview.