Saturday, November 14, 2015

My opinion on unsolicited opinions.

Here’s the plus about being a six foot tall Amazon with a resting bitch face that looks like I’m ready to throw down….no one critiques my parenting skills in public!  I am sure that many denizens of the grocery store shuffle quickly to their cars thinking “Damn, I’m glad that she’s not MY mom,” but I never actually have to deal with the advice of random strangers.  I breast fed three babies in public with nary a side eye, shit, I used to bring my Boppy Pillow with us to the bar for more comfortable nursing.  I have carried screaming children over my shoulder through crowded store aisles, I even had to extract my naked son from a swimming pool locker room after he REFUSED to get out of the shower after half an hour.  Has any well meaning mother-of-the-year ever stopped in to tell me that if I just made sure he got more fiber in his diet then his behavior would improve?  No.  Has any grandmother ever stepped in to tell me that that’s not how they did it in their day?  No.  So, you know, I have to buy my clothes from the “Modern Giantess” catalog, but at least no one has interfered with the way I’ve decided to raise my kids...until now.

I will not go into detail because it would take too fucking long but let me just assure you that Mondays are not the day that you want to get in my way.  Pretty much every single second of Monday is specifically scheduled from 7:24am which is the last possible minute that can wake up my kids and still get them to school on time, until 7:24pm when I unload them from the Van, tired and already in their pajamas after their swim class.  There is something happening during every single minute of the day and if the schedule deviates even slightly then the whole thing ends up in utter catastrophe. I am not an organized person.  I don’t think three steps ahead, I like to live in the moment and take things as they come, so let’s just say that at best Monday and I have an uneasy truce.

There are 37 minutes of “waiting” on Monday afternoons, that I hold onto like a precious gem of sanity in the swirling seas of scheduled obligation.  After I drop eldest off for his tutoring appointment I can take the younger kids to a playground down the street and they (wait for it, because it’s fucking amazing...) ENTERTAIN THEMSELVES FOR AN ENTIRE HALF HOUR.  I know, I know…it’s the stuff of dreams.  Those nights when you are holding a fussy, hungry newborn in the wee small hours of the morning, you close your eyes and see a halo of golden light through which you can watch your children playing BY THEMSELVES on the playground while you fondly watch from a distance and gradually rebuild your fragile mental health. 

I defend these 37 minutes with every tactic at my disposal.  I pull up to the park, open the side panel door on the van and (not literally, but literally if that’s what is required) boot them out of the vehicle.  Then I sit by myself in the driver’s seat of the van for 37 minutes, listening to the radio, checking my email, calling my mother, knitting, or any one of a million other trivial things that have been robbed from me on this day of many obligations.   So you can imagine my annoyance when I became aware of a presence on the other side of the window, a presence which resolved itself into the face of a sweet and well intentioned woman of not-quite-elderly vintage.  The presence tapped on my driver’s side window, clearly indicating that I should lower it because she had wisdom to impart to me.  The window reluctantly lowered.

“Go!  Go and play with your children on the swings,” she twittered at me.  And then she walked along the road accompanied by her well-walked dog and her husband who muttered “Was she just sitting in the car texting?!” in a tone that clearly indicated that I was out of my ever loving mind to miss this prime bonding experience with my precious children and their fleeting childhood.

So let me clear things up for you.  I have no idea what I was doing, husband-person, I might have been texting, I could have been checking my email, or returning a phone call that I can’t return while surrounded by extremely loud children.  I might have been refining uranium, curing cancer, solving the world’s problems in a three way facebook message string between me, Obama and the Pope.  I might have been looking up porn, or announcing my candidacy for president of the universe.

What I wasn’t doing was playing with my children on the playground.  I don’t actually like playgrounds.  I’m sure that there is a lightning bolt charging up extra hot and just waiting for the right minute to strike me dead for saying so but playgrounds suck for grown ups.  And swings?  Swings are a fucking racket man.  Agree to one underdog and your life is basically over.  You have become a slave to the swing set.  They will NEVER LET YOU GO.  Observe my children playing on the swings.  They are laughing, they are pushing each other, they are experimenting with different swing positions for maximum vomit induction…they are having a blast.  You know what would happen if I went out there?  Both of them would assume the “push me” position and demand in loud, ungrateful and irritating voices that I push them FOR ETERNITY, and we would ALL be having way less fun. 

I NEED those quiet minutes in between appointments, work, errands, school, lessons, and myriad other obligations.  Those are the minutes where I can recharge my reserves of patience and understanding so that when youngest is standing on her mitten in the morning, while simultaneously telling me that she can’t find her mitten and that she looked EVERYWHERE for it!!! I can say “Sweety, darling, you are standing on it,” instead of “ohferfucksakeareyoukiddingmerightnowyouirritatinglittletwerp!”  They also need those minutes to play without me being there to be the focus of every problem and desire.  They can lean on me to direct their game, all of which dissolve instantly into “show mommy and get approval!” or they can figure out something that appeals to their weird little kid brains and they can play “hippopotamus princess rescues the dragon.”

I could have explained this to you, sweet older lady, dog and husband, but you ran away before hearing my opinion.  You probably thought you already knew what I would say.  You probably thought that I would say “Fuck off and die you interfering old busy body! This is none of your damn business.”  And you would have been TOTALLY CORRECT.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Sleep Avoiding Ninja

          There is an infinite number of mind boggling things about motherhood.  Firstly, how can you grow a human INSIDE ANOTHER HUMAN!??!  That just doesn’t make sense.  How can that possibly be a viable form of reproduction.  Yeast…budding…look there’s a lump on my side that is about to become another one of me exactly like me…sure, why not? Makes sense.  You could be all “Hey little bud dude, how’s it going over there?  Ready to split off? Not yet?  No worries! Take your time!”  Eggs.  Sure!  Little self-contained nugget of reproduction…I can handle that.  Sit on it all day to keep it warm?  Sure, I GUESS I can suffer through ALL the offerings that Netflix has to offer, except, you know, for those times that I get to get up and go to the bathroom with a bladder that is STILL ENTIRELY MY OWN, not squashed by a human living in a water balloon in my stomach.  Mammalian reproduction pretty much sucks.  I have a four month black out surrounding the last two months off gestation and the first two months of life surrounding all three of my children (because HOW COULD YOU NOT!?) but I do remember saying to my midwife “This is a stupid way to reproduce!!!” while I was on all fours and in the middle of pushing out baby number two.  (The fact that there is a baby number three is evidence of the effectiveness of that four month memory wipe surrounding the birth of all my children).  I also recall saying “Why am I having another baby!  I don’t know what to do with the babies I already have!” while baby #3 was being born, and apparently I used the word fuck so many times that my midwife thought the only way to get through to me was to tell me “Oh you’re having a fucking baby. You’re having a fucking baby right fucking now.”

           But that’s not actually what I wanted to talk about.  I wanted to talk about another completely mind boggling thing about mothering which is that all your kids are completely different from one another.  Same variables.  Same raw materials.  Completely different.  There is no such thing as an experienced mother because they change the goddamn rules with every single kid!!  NOT FAIR.

          So let me introduce you to the “baby” of the family.  First of all…female child.  That’s new!  That’s different.  You know the number of times that she’s peed on the toilet seat?  ZERO.  What is up with standing to pee?  BOYS INVENTED THAT!!  They’re like “HEY!  You know what this thing looks like? A HOSE!! You know what you can do with a hose?”  Well apparently the answer is write your name on the bathroom wall, if the amount of pee that I have wiped off of things is any indication.  There has not been a single day in the last 8 years where I was not in immediate contact with someone else’s piss. THEY DON’T TELL YOU THAT IN HEALTH CLASS!  Just because you have a penis doesn’t mean that sitting down to pee isn’t a fucking great idea, that’s all I’m saying.  Start a revolution.  Sit your boys on the toilet…done.  World peace.

          Youngest child.  You know what?  She’s learned ALL the tricks from all the other children.  Baby number one at bedtime?  His head hits the pillow and he is out like you flipped a switch.  Head, pillow, eyelids BOOM.  He sleeps like he’s on a timer.  10.5 hours and BING!  Eyes open and he is ready to torment his siblings and make fart jokes like it’s his goddamn job until 8:45pm when his clock winds down and the recharge cycle begins.  Child number 2? He gives a few half hearted attempts to squeeze me for a sip of water, a snuggle, one final chance to hose the bathroom with his piss…but really his heart isn’t in it.  He’s tired.  He WANTS to give in to the void.  After all tomorrow is another day, full of chances to throw temper tantrums about completely random shit like not having his toast on the right plate, or needing a GREEN lego!!!!!

          Child number 3?  She who is doomed to be the baby forever because this child factory has been shut DOWN?  She has watched, she has learned, she has studied with the masters until they had to come up with a belt that was blacker than black.  I give you THE SLEEP AVOIDING NINJA!! 
There is no song that can soothe her, even if she chose it.  The book you selected is WRONG.  Oh, you think you have the right stuffed animal because you had to search through two toy boxes and crawl under a couch to retrieve it the previous night? Well you are WRONG motherfucker. You might as well just take that teddy bear out to the backyard and put it out of its misery for all the good it will do you. This child cannot be lulled by cuddly objects. She is TOO TIRED.  Too tired for everything.  Too tired to get her own pajamas.  Too tired to brush her teeth.  Too tired to LIE IN HER BED.  You gave her a glass of water in the bathroom right after she brushed her teeth?!  NO!  The bedtime avoiding ninja’s mouth is dry!! So DRY!  “I stuck my finger in my mouth and it was not wet!” dry.  You heartless beast.  How could you!  This baby is obviously at the very edge of dehydration!!  NO NOT THAT WATER!!! That water was in the cup next to the bed from last night and tastes like dirt. “YOU MADE ME DRINK DIRT WATER!!!”

          What if I rub your back a little bit, baby ninja?  Maybe that will help you to relax.  “NO NOT LIKE THAT!!” You are rubbing WRONG!!! And anyway it’s her ELBOW that hurts, not her back, you cretin!!!  And she needs to stare into your FACE while she falls asleep.  You are using the WRONG pillow.  If she cannot see your face while she is slowly, oh so slowly, drifting off into a restless slumber then BOOM, it’s not happening.  The soft pink blanket?  IT HURTS HER TOE.  The quilt with the dinosaurs on it “I HATE DINOSAURS!!!” No one in this world has ever hated dinosaurs baby girl.  Dinosaurs are a constant.  Dinosaur love is universal!!!!

It’s a battle of wills.  A test of determination.  Who will fall asleep first? Sleep avoiding Ninja, or momma who will wake up with a back ache an hour later, unable to fall back asleep in her own bed because of the “nap” on a random pile of pillows, precisely constructed to provide the perfect “view” to ninja girl?  Right now the score is Momma zero, Ninja eleventy million.

Ragnar…who apparently will sleep when she’s dead.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The un-taken pictures.

I could have one of those blogs where I post pictures of my kids well balanced meals, home grown veggies, plates that have never seen a chicken nugget.  I could do that.  I make those meals...sometimes.  I could have one of those blogs where the kids pose eagerly in their new "made by mom" outfits in front of a field of color coordinated wildflowers.  I make clothes for my kids...sometimes.

But I'm not going to do that to you.

Because it's a lie, is why.

For every picture of a toddler posed with book on knee, sunlight streaming in from just the right angle, there is another picture, the untaken picture, the sink full of dishes that didn't get washed, the take out containers in the trash from the uncooked dinner.  For every picture of a kale salad bento-box there is another untaken picture of a kale salad that has been abused for 20 minutes, pushed around a plate while all the almonds or cheese cubes were surgically extracted.  Sure.  Some kids eat veggies.  Mine do sometimes.  I had a brief moment of glory in the grocery store the other day when my almost three year old and almost five year old (both wearing pants even!) yelled "WE WANT BELL PEPPERS!!! BELL PEPPERS ARE OUR FAVORITE!" while I navigated our cart through the produce section.  Yeah bitches, my kids eat vegetables.  Hell.  My kids BEG for vegetables.  I have got this motherhood thing LICKED I tell you.

And then there was today.

Breakfast.  Homemade Granola (hot stove, slaved over it).  Whole milk yogurt, I buy it unsweetened so that I can add just a little bit of locally sourced honey.  Seasonal fruit, sliced up into child friendly sizes.  I'm not immune to the hype.  I try to be THAT mom.  Plus this is my favorite breakfast.  There is pretty much nothing I would rather eat in the morning than a big pile of cut up fruit with some yogurt and granola on it.  In fact I remember eating pretty much this exact breakfast while growing up and LOVING it.  My mom making granola in the big "convent" pan (so called because she bought it from a nun's garage sale) is one of my formative memories.  I guess I didn't realize that I had so much invested in this fucking granola until my kids just flat out refused to eat the stuff.

More than just refused to eat it.  They acted like the granola was poison and that by asking them to eat it I was basically trying to murder them. Plus they were also screaming about how cold they were while simultaneously refusing to put on clothes of any kind. Yeah.

And then on the way to camp my middle child extracted the liter sized water bottle from his backpack (because they have lost all the "kid" sized water bottles, lost with a frequency and thoroughness that makes me suspect that there is some sort of water bottle black market at camp and that they might be trading them for extra fruit snacks or something) and attempted to fill his sister's water bottle with it which resulted in his lap and car seat being thoroughly soaked.  Not just soaked but wet in a very specific pattern which basically screams to all the parents and counselors that I meet on my way in from the parking lot "this child has pissed himself."  Plus the extra water ran down into his backpack, which contained his extra set of clothing.  So yeah.  I dropped a soaking wet kid off at camp.  I might have said something to the forlorn teenage counselor like "It's just water, lay him out in the sun or something," before high-tailing it back to my car as quickly as possible.  This was one of those mothering situations that would be better handled by not-the-mother.

What about those other moms?  They're doing it so much better.  They're not losing their shit over granola and wet pants.  They're cool.  They put the water bottles in the front seat where the kids can't get their hands on them.  Their kids eat their homemade food and say things like "Delicious mother! Might I please have some more if it's not too much trouble." Right? do mine, sometimes.  I'm just seeing the wrong sometimes.  Because nobody is going to show you the bad times, why would they.  They don't want to remember those times so why would they want you to.

Except that those are some of my favorite times.

(adorable picture of my kids, fully outfitted in safety gear ready to enjoy a bike ride with the family)

(adorable picture of my passed out daughter along with a weeks worth of unfolded laundry)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Happy BAWG-day.

               Run the Mile Day was always the worst day in Gym Class, which is saying something because me and Gym Class didn't have very many good days.  I dreaded Spring and the onset of “Presidential Fitness” season.  Pretty much my whole relationship with the President from ages 10-18 was a seething resentment of his fitness tests, with the mile being the absolute worst.   I remember exactly one of my “mile” times from High School, 18 minutes.  I “ran” that 18 minute mile in electric blue Doc Marten boots, which I had convinced my gym teacher that year (one of the few that seemed mildly sympathetic to my plight as a hater of gym class) that they had good arch support  and non-marking soles, which meant that they met the minimum requirement for gym shoes.  They also weighed about 3 pounds apiece.
               My brief experiences with running were so negative that for most of my life the words “me” and “run” could not exist in the same sentence unless it read something like this “I hope that nothing deadly ever tries to chase me because I don’t run.”  I couldn’t escape from it though.  I was surrounded by people who not only ran, but seemed honestly to enjoy it.  I found myself frequently surrounded by super fit mega-athletes while I knit by the sidelines waiting for my life-partner to finish whatever running event he had signed up for.  I found myself doing crazy things like scrubbing mud out of running shoes and then strapping them to the roof of our truck so that they might possibly be dry when I had to meet up with him at the 30 mile aid station during his latest ultra-marathon.  Instead of feeling like the awkward, unskilled teenager in gym class I found that I was just one more member of a crowd of people who were out enjoying themselves. 
               The super weird thing is that they all seemed to think I belonged there too. 
               About 7 years ago I was camping with my family up in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan.  Manimal (my husbeast)and his eight year old daughter were participating in a two day, three race running festival and I was along for the ride.  One of the events was a uphill 5K, where the finishing line was on the top of a mountain (a Michigan mountain…so you know, a big hill), and Isis was going to run with her Dad so I figured that if I walked I could meet them at the top and we could hike down together.  This was a small festival, and most of the people running were of the super-fit variety.  There were a few spouses  doing the same thing I was, but I was definitely the last person on the trail.  Not halfway up the mountain I met the front runners (who had just sprinted up a mountain and were now jogging back down, just for fun).  I remember the first person to pass me.  He had a short beard, long hair, a baseball cap to keep the sun out of his eyes, very typical “trail runner,” looking dude.  “Hey good job!” he called out as he passed me.  He was long gone before I could correct his misconception.  He thought I was in the same race he was!  Silly running man, can’t he use his eyes and see that I am OBVIOUSLY not a runner?  The second runner passed me a few minutes later “Looking good!  You’re almost there!” he called as he passed me.  Silly, silly runner man.  I almost called out to him “No! You’ve got the wrong idea.  I’m just meeting my boyfriend up at the top of the hill, I’m not running this race!” but of course he was out of earshot.  The third runner passed me “Way to go!”
               What are the chances that these three super runners who had just run.up.a.damn.mountain could possibly all make the same ridiculous mistake?  They know what a runner looks like don’t they?  How could they possibly assume that I’m running the same race they are?  I’m WALKING obviously and am so far behind everyone else.  I’m just out for a stroll in the woods.  Silly runner dudes.  Except….wait…I am on the same trail that they just ran on.  I am going to end up in the same place that they just did….and then I’ll come back down again, just like they did.  So…huh…I guess I am KIND OF doing the same thing that they are.  That’s weird.   And…who would know what another runner looks like better than another runner?  If they have made the mistake of assuming that I’m in the same race as they are, then maybe….I am in the same race that they are? 
               The seed had been planted.
               The next week I tried to run around one of our local nature centers…and it pretty much sucked.  My mouth dried out.  My legs hurt.  I got kind of dizzy….but I kept on doing it a couple of times a week until I force myself through two grueling 13 minute miles.  I got pregnant that fall.  For medical reasons I was told to knock it off with the high-impact exercise while I was carrying the baby, and then I found that life with a newborn was crazy and complicated…and became pregnant with my second and third in fairly quick succession and all in all it was six years before I could “get back” to running.
               I had a much greater success with my new found identify as “A person who can run if she wants to,” the second time around.  For one thing I knew I could do it, and for another I started slow and let myself build up to it, starting with short intervals and building up my endurance gradually.  Shocked I found that I was enjoying myself.  It was still a long time before I could say the sentence “I’m a runner,” without some sort of qualifier like “I’m a KIND of a runner,” or “I’m TRYING to be a runner,” or “I’m a very SLOW runner.”

(Stacia and I on the Beach after the Legend 5 mile)
               I ran my first post-baby intervals in March of 2012, when my daughter was 6 months old.  Since then I have run countless 5ks, 2 (or 3?) 10ks, 6 half marathons and 1 full marathon.  I also started a “club” called “The Warrior Goddess Training Academy” for women who want some support to accomplish their fitness goals, which now has over 330 members all over the country.  That club was started a year ago today.   Happy Anniversary my Badass Warrior Goddesses.  You are all amazing and inspire me everyday.
(Holding 80 pounds of children wearing my medal from my first half marathon and my first marathon)

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Project! Wonder Baby Headband

Here's the thing about babies: they look like babies.  You pretty much can't tell a boy from a girl unless their parents do something pretty obvious to "brand" them, like put them in a onsie with a picture of a baseball bat and the words "Momma's manly little sportsman," on it.  Now that I am the mother of a girl child, one who is the recipient of hand-me-downs from two older brothers, I frequently find myself correcting well meaning strangers in the grocery store who compliment me on my "handsome little guy."

So yes, I could dress her in pink and slap one of those flower headbands on her, that would make her look like she's part of a centerpiece, or an extra from "Attack of the begonia headed babies, but I would prefer to bring her up as the Amazon Princess she is.

The Wonder Baby Headband:

You will need, some scraps of red and yellow fabric.
Some sort of double sided fusible interfacing such as wonder-under (a very small scrap)
Approximately 10 " of 3/4" or 1" elastic.

Cut a five pointed star out of the fusible interfacing and iron it onto your red fabric. (Yes, my scissors have cheetah print handles, because I am punk rock like that)

Cut out a tiara shape from the yellow fabric, on a fold so that you have one less seam to sew up later.

Attach the star with a satin stitch (tight zig zag, directly over the raw edge).

 Making sure that the star is on the inside, sew a seam across the TOP ONLY, leaving the ends open so that the finished headband can be turned right side out.

And stick the elastic into the open ends, sew one side (tuck the raw edges inside for a clean edge), try it on your baby for a good fit, and then sew the other side.

Ta-Da!  No more well intentioned strangers mistaking your Amazon Warrior for a boy....and no ridiculous flower that might cause you to lose her in a meadow or florist's shop.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Yet another "sorry I haven't posted" in awhile post.

I was going to reconcile my "mega list" of new year's resolutions from last year, but even I got bored half way through it. (46 pass/54 fail) Looking back on my aspirations for last year did stir up a couple of thoughts...firstly that I miss writing on the blog, and secondly that my life has actually changed quite a bit in the last year. Some milestone was passed, and although I can't really articulate exactly what boundary it marked, I feel like I've ended up on the other side of something.

So last year, well, for one thing, I had a baby.

And for another my first babies turned into people.

I also worked at a real, not self-employed, job and gave up my studio. This could seem like a failure of sorts, but curiously I am very content. I have carved out a space for creativity in my very busy life, and it is a small space, but it is there.

I make no commitments to visit this blog more often...I've found that the only way to keep your head above the water in this river of motherhood is to go with the flow. Don't fight, just try to steer a little.

Ragnar...mother of many.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Because it was there....

Every once in awhile I get a crazy notion about doing something from beginning to end. You know, like in the olden days when men were men and women were really tired all the time because there was no "Diego" to turn on during dinner prep, and laundry took all day and was a full body work out with the great possibility of third degree burns. I got one of these notions a couple of weeks ago when I realized that some of the straw that we'd used to mulch our garlic crop last fall, had sprouted and that along with all the tasty tasty garlic there was a fair quantity of wheat popping up. "Hmm..." I thought to myself. "Hmmm....I wonder how much wheat you need to make a loaf of bread?"More than I managed to gather, that's for sure. I understood the basic mechanics of threshing, you lightly crush the seed head to release the "chaff" and then you shake it to bring all the loose stuff up to the top and the seeds fall to the bottom. I vaguely remembered something called a "winnowing" basket from anthropology class, which was basically a big flat loosely woven basket that you would shake around so that all the wheat could fall out. Since I wasn't processing a lot of wheat I figured I could make do with whatever I had in my retrospect, it's probably easier to process A LOT of wheat, and the small amount that I was dealing with would be considered the waste.
Pretty huh? Just like on the beer bottle labels?
And yeah, it worked pretty much like that...I used the "rubbing it between your hands" method for releasing the wheat berries , and the "blowing on it lightly over a kitchen sink" method for "separating the wheat from the chaff" (an adage which I now feel uniquely qualified to over use). If you have about three hours of time to devote to the production of a small quantity of wheat berries, and you are resigned to the fact that your final product will have a fair amount of straw left in it, then yeah, I'd say it worked pretty well. Towards the end I got a bit more efficient with my technology, using a flat plate, a round bottomed bowl and kitchen strainer with widish holes, for successive winnowing.
And here's what I have. An eight ounce jelly jar full of wheat. Wheat like I can go and buy by the scoopful out of the bulk bins at the co-op...whoo hoo! My best option for grinding it is probably our little coffee grinder, so I guess it's a good thing that I don't have much. What to do with this precious stuff?

This is how my great notions usually end. " romantic as it is to think of times gone by, I'm sure happy I live in the 21st century, and not the 18th. Isn't it lovely that spinning wool can be a hobby, and that if I don't feel like knitting I don't have to worry about my family having cold feet in the winter?" Sometimes you just have to do something to find out why it's better to let other people do it for you...people with big machines.

Ragnar...21st century girl.