Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Read, Watched, Listened

I love reading just about everything, watching comedy and documentary-type things, and have recently embraced the podcast.  I also enjoy hearing about what other people are reading, watching, and listening to.  Here's my two cents worth.


Read

The tagline is "for the woman who feels she is both too much and never enough".  The authors help work through the reclaiming of these words, both"wild" and "free", and what they mean to us as Christian women.  It's a testament to the season of life I am in right now that I can say that I both loved this book, and at the same time cannot remember anything about it.  I have approximately zero takeaways from it.  I found it so encouraging and enjoyed reading it each evening after long days with the kids (aka each and every day), and yet I'm pretty sure I forgot all but the most blurry of details by the time my head hit the pillow.  I'm glad I purchased this one - I will definitely be reading it again someday!

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT.  First things first: I refused to buy it.  I borrowed my brother's copy of the book when he was done with it.  The whole we're-releasing-the-script-because-it's-a-play-but-then-going-to-market-it-like-it's-the-eighth-book just smacked of WE WANT YOUR MONEY to me.  I enjoyed it because, well, it's HARRY POTTER, and also, the writing is just so dang good.  J.K. Rowling has a clear gift, and Harry Potter is a phenomenon for a very good reason.  The dialogue is fantastic, but, y'know, as a play, that's pretty much all there was, and I missed the details and descriptions from the books.  I also found the entire plot to be repetitive (you have the entire magical world at your fingertips and - wait - Polyjuice Potion AGAIN?!?) and predictable (I figured out Delphi's parentage WAY before it was "revealed").  It was also pandering: all the going back-and-forth through time to give you different scenarios...it seemed like they wanted to give every possible fandom a taste of what could have been.  And yet, I still enjoyed it.  Unlike the original books, though, I will probably never read it again.  Anyway, tl;dr...if you're a Harry Potter fan, you'll enjoy reading it, but it's not life-changing or anything.

A re-read for me.  It's quirky, intelligent, and easy to read.  The perfect summer novel, and one of my favorite books.  The characters are funny and relatable, and the structure and writing of the book is unlike anything I've read before.

I suppose in retrospect it should have been obvious - clearly I didn't read the description closely enough when I put a hold on it from the library - but this is a cookbook (and pseudo-memoir).  I never really wrapped my head around the idea of reading a cookbook until lately.  Probably because the only idea in my head of a cookbook was my mom's random Betty Crocker and church cookbooks stashed in a cabinet growing up, occasionally pulled down to make a trusty favorite.  No prose; just recipes.  Why on earth would you "read" something like that?  I stand corrected.  I'm already all-in to the author's ideas on the importance and structure on family dinner, but enjoyed reading her thoughts and copied down several recipes from the book that we've already tried ourselves.  The Fish Presents and Chicken with Bacon-y Brussels Sprouts were both winners -  I could eat the bacon-y Brussels sprouts everyday just on their own.  Meal planning had been feeling a little stale lately (no pun intended - ha!), but this book and some new recipes helped rejuvenate what was feeling like such a chore.

Watched

Michael Pollan's book in documentary form.  You should ABSOLUTELY read the book before, (or after, it doesn't really matter), though the documentary stands just fine on it's own.  It explores how we as humans have harnessed the elements of fire, water, earth, and air to transform our food, focusing hard on one food-item per episode (bread, cheese, etc.). It's fascinating, and ties in to his other works as a commentary on sustainability and eating local.  Michael Pollan is also just incredibly well-spoken, and I enjoy listening to him.

Mostly, though, I watched more than my fair share of the Olympics this past month.  (USA!  USA! USA!)

Listened

A short (15-20 minute) podcast by two sisters-in-law that focus on how the truth of the Gospel relate to our work as moms.  I love that the episodes are quick and easy to listen to, so I can usually listen to them in one chunk (though not always...#momlife) while getting ready in the morning or cooking dinner in the evening.  They touch on a lot of topics, and while with the time limit aren't able to go very in-depth, they are challenging and thought-provoking and I find myself pondering topics I may not otherwise have thought about.  One of my favorite episodes is #11: What is Mom's Time Worth?.

Talking to writers?  Yes, please!  It can get a little fluffy for me when they talk about their process and...I don't know.  If you listen, you'll know what I'm talking about.  They can just be a little dreamy and frou-frou for someone as realist as me, but I do enjoy listening to some of my favorite authors talk about their works and their process.  The first episode I listened to is one of their most recent, with Glennon Doyle Melton (can't wait to read her new book very soon!).  


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Post Weekend

Event #1:


We are officially mobile.  As in, we pull ourselves along the floor on our belly (aka "creeping").  Like it ain't no thang.  It's adorable.  And mildly terrifying.  In that I officially have three children who can move themselves from one place to another BY THEIR OWN DANG SELVES kind of way.  Send help.  And coffee.

Oh, and that floor vent?  Ain't no coincidence that I took a picture of him there.  It's officially his favorite thing.  You lay him on the floor and his eyes light up when he focuses on it.  Then he does that excited-baby-feet-kick thing that reminds me of a dog wagging it's tail drags himself on over there.  Not just to any old floor vent, mind you.  That particular one.  I really think that right thar floor vent was his entire motivation to move around.  As seen here:

video

(Please excuse the whining toddler in the background.  #threeunderthree)

Event #2:


Friday morning Farmer's Market trip with Nana and Papa.



And lunch.


And bookstore perusing.  Attaboy.


$8.00 worth of farmer's market flowers.  They make me happy.  As does arranging them.  Love it.

Event #3:


All playing BY THEMSELVES in the living room.  Together, but separate.  Separate, but equal.  No crying.  No fighting.  Just quiet playing for an extended period of time.


Extended in toddler-time being like, less than 10 minutes.  Less than 10 GLORIOUS minutes. It would be the ideal time to get something, anything, done, but they're so adorable when this happens that I just want to sit and watch.


So I did.

Event #4:


First official sibling bathtime.

"I dump wa-wa No-an's head?"  NO.  You DO NOT dump water on Nolan's head.  


Surprise!  They totally dumped water on No-an's head.  In typical third-child fashion, it didn't seem to phase him.  (*eyerolls*)

Event #5:


Happy Half Birthday!


Officially 2 1/2.  With the stickers to prove it.  Which, I would just like to point out, were also from last year but never worn.  These stickers survived a move, 10 or so months sitting in a drawer that is ACCESSIBLE in their own bedroom, I remembered that they existed, AND we wore them on the exact appropriate day.  Please let us take your focus off of them for a minute so we can celebrate me.  All the parenting wins right there.

How did they celebrate, you might ask?  Well they wanted to go to "daddy's store" (aka Lowe's) to see the tractors (aka lawnmowers).  Easiest half birthday celebration ever.


(Sometimes goofy blurry pics are the best.)

Event #6:


Avocado!


We mostly liked it.


Mostly.


First solid food?  We might as well work on self-feeding right off the bat as well.  


Nom nom avocado spoon.

And a surprisingly eventful weekend around here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Moms of Littles

Right now we're in this stage of toddler-toddler-baby.  As are most of my mom friends.  All the toddlers.  All the babies.  Babies laying on a blanket in the grass while the toddlers run around and play.  Or fight.  Or ask again for a snack and a push on the swing.  So we leave our blanketed baby sanctuary to address those needs before returning for some more baby cuddles and giggles, rocking and talking and nursing.  Until the call from the toddler crowd comes again.  We're constantly rotating, one attending to this need, another tending to that, so even when we're all in the same place, we're rarely all together.

We're SO needed.


Playdates, these days.  And that's only the ones I could fit in this picture...


It's so strange to think of being a mom of older kids.  ones who can be pretty much be depended on to do things on their own and play by themselves.  Kids who aren't even here for most of the day because they're off at school and activities.  Not needing help with every little snack, shoes-on-shoes-off, clothing change, pulling up that darn underwear after going potty routine while also rocking the baby.  Chaotic playdates where we frequently spend more time chasing after our own kids than in adult conversation.  Snacks, naps, nursing, tantrums, snuggles, playtime and swaddling.  This is all I know.  All we know.  As little girls (and boys) we played house and pretended to take care of babies.  Ain't nobody who wants to pretend to be the mom of a teenager.

I hear that it happens.  That one day we'll turn around and realize that they all know how to play by themselves.  Not only will they not need to be fed/watched/entertained 24/7 but apparently it will actually be possible to relax and do some yard work, wipe down the counters, fold that entire load of laundry, or drink that entire cup of coffee and even get into a book without being interrupted within the next 60 seconds.  Right now it feels like this is a myth.  That they will always be little.  You guys out there with older kids must be lying to us.  There's no way these kids grow up.  That doesn't happen.  Didn't you just always have an 8-year old?  He came out that way, right?

Right now, if there's suddenly a time that we're not needed - all the kids are napping, they're with the grandparents, whatever - we literally don't know what to do with ourselves.  I hear some version of "the kids are gone/in bed asleep/with a babysitter and I'm so excited but I don't know what to do with myself!" from my friends at least once a week.  There's so many things we feel that we should do, or just plain old want to do.  So many things we want to try to fit into the quiet.  Is this productive time?  Do we wipe down the counters and scrub toilets?  Do we blow it all off and read a book?  (Answer: yes.)  Sort through the 384 photos on our phone of the kids that we took that day alone?  (It's not just me, right?)  Maybe even have time to post one of the non-blurry ones up to Facebook or Instagram without being interrupted?  (I get about halfway through a post approximately 90% of the time before dealing with some sort of emergency and have to stop mid-type.  By some miracle, I haven't had one post on accident while half-done.  Yet.  You'll know when this happens.  Keep your eyes open.  It's only a matter of time.)  

Of course this time doesn't last.  The kids wake up, the babysitter leaves, the chaos returns.  And we're right back in to juggling not one but two poopy diapers and a child that wants a snack "Nowwwwaaa, Mommy!  Righ' nowwaa!"  And then the doorbell rings and the baby decides this is a good time to also spit up all over you (this may or may not have happened just yesterday).

We sigh, but we're kind of used to it.  We know how to do this.  And we're still a little skeptical that these little ones - our little ones - will actually grow up.  We'll learn about homework and activities and Minecraft and Justice and chapter books and (God forbid) dating and high school and the rest of that big-kid stuff later.  We'll do what we know how to do best right now.


I'm in no rush.  We've got plenty of time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

August, Take Two

I'm not sure that I exactly like August any better than the last time I posted, but...


...I guess it's not all bad.



Tyson was gone for four days to a family reunion this past weekend, so he took an extra day off to be with us this week.  (Ahem I told him that he couldn't go never ever ever period no way Jose was he leaving me with three babies unless he took another day off just to spend with us.) (My cousin's daughter also came over to help us out for three of the days.  So there's that.  Paying a teenager to hang out with my sometimes-whiny kids and help with fun things like constant toy clean up?  Genius.)  So on the afternoon of "family: day, we took Caden and Brooklyn to a splash pad that I'd heard about nearby while my mom watched Nolan.  Imagine my surprise when we showed up to find not only the splash pad, (which was kinda lame), but a beach.  A beautiful, sandy, clean, glorious lake beach.


Ain't a Minnesotan out there who can resist this.

So we pulled out our towels, and a few snacks, and made camp.  We didn't have sand toys or floaties.  We didn't have a cooler.  We didn't have much time (here was that darn nursing baby to get back to and all).  But we had perfect weather, warm water, and the beach practically to ourselves (weekdays!).  Besides, other kids had beach toys for us to share steal. Why bother with our own?  Too much work, really.


(Also, ain't a mama out there who can resist taking a break in the sand while daddy takes care of the kids.  This is about the time that I was missing a cooler full of icy-cold drinks...)






(Brooklyn's cute and all but the best part of this photo is the American popsicle float in the background.)


(Brooklyn agrees.)



(Proof that it was a successful beach day.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

August

August is the 4:00 pm of summer.

It is The Longest Month of the year.  It just. doesn't. end.  It's hot.  It's sunny.  When it's not sunny, it's raining.  I'm sweaty.  The kids are sweaty.  They're also filthy.  My hair is a frizzy mess.  It's just an all-around unattractive and gross time of year.  Even with little little kids, the whole holy-crap-it's-summer-let's-do-all-the-things-OUTSIDE-ness of it all has completely and utterly worn off.  We have played in the backyard for the 843rd day in a row and I am OVER pushing you on the swing for approximately ALL THE MINUTES and watching you run around in the heat while I die sitting on a blanket with no breeze and minimal shade and remind you to take drinks of water for the rest of them.  It's just too hot. I'm sick of coming up with things to cook (or not cook) (crackers, cheese, and fruit are essentially all of our lunches and snacks around here) (sometimes dinners, too), tired of remembering to put sunscreen on all of the kids, and completely OVER the bugs.  I know that God's plan is perfect and all, but I really think there could have been a better option than creepy, crawly bugs.  June and July are okay, but like, c'mon August.  We're ready for something else here.  Let's switch it up a little.  We've done the summer thing, alright? Enough already.


Monkey crawl around the deck, kids.  It's 9:47 am and I have run out of ideas to keep you occupied today.

(Rant within a rant: while winter is a pain from all the jackets-boots-coats-hats and the whole HAVING TO KEEP TRACK OF THEM ALL situation, I'm not convinced that summer is all that much better.  Find your shoes.  What do you mean you left them outside somewhere again?  Why did you take them off outside?  By the sandbox?  In the sandbox? Literally IN the sand?  I just don't know.  Then there is the sunscreen-ing.  All the arms, cheeks, noses, backs-of-necks, and legs.  On a good day, that is.  Sunglasses?  Hats?  Which you might wear for all of two minutes before they are also lost to the abyss just like your shoes?  And don't even get me started on the days that we go all out with swimsuits and swim diapers and do you really need a towel? etc.  
GAAAAHHHHHHHHHH.)


You can tell this is June because I still cared about things like swimsuits that matched and wearing swim diapers and also probably "sunscreen".  August is more like, eh, swim diaper? Maybe.  Are your clothes dirty?  You should probably just wear them in the water so they get clean anyway.  Here, let's towel you off with this dish towel that I grabbed off the top of the washer from the pile of things-that-have-yet-to-be-washed.  You'll be fine.

September and the rest of fall feel so. far. away.  Like they will never, ever come.  We're going to be stuck in this infinite loop of heat and sweat and sun and let's play in the backyard AGAIN I GUESS for-freaking-ever.  

The time from September-December is my absolute favorite part of the year.  Fall and leaves and cool breezes and holiday after holiday after holiday.  Even the first snow is something to look forward to (while it's still magical, before it's the third month in a row of NOTHING BUT WHITE and hey, Florida sounds like a pretty good place to move to now). But August has to be lived through first.  It's excruciating.  Some sort of purgatory to get to the glory of holidays and decorations and cool weather.  Not the frigid cold of February but like the 50s-60s chill that lets you be comfortably outside wearing jeans and a sweater.  Yes, that.  And all of the fall clothes are put into the stores by about the beginning of June, so I'm stuck looking at comfy flannels and cozy rust orange sweaters and adorable scarves and cute-yet-practical boots that are pointless to think about, much less buy, because they can't be worn for MOOOOOONNTTHHHSSS.

I have no encouragement for the month of August.  No energy.  It's gone.  All gone.  The heat zapped it all because it was 75 degrees outside before 8:00 am.  We crank the AC, drink all the iced coffee and water that we can handle, make a few more batches of ice cream (okay, so it's not all bad), run up the water bill by filling the pool about 86 more times, watch a bit more TV than we should on the days that we really need to beat the heat, and dream of cooler days - and all the hot cider, sweaters, and apple orchards - in store for us ahead.