Tag Archives: Rants & Raves

Mr. Mom

I love my husband. I know I’ve said that before, but it’s worth saying a thousand times over. He is a remarkable companion and a remarkable dad.

Colin has been home doing my job for the last 4 weeks, only it’s much harder because he’s flying solo. I can’t really do much of anything to help. He’s there, everyday, in the trenches working hard to care for the kids and for me.

As any stay-at-home parent could tell you, the job is rigorous. It’s exhausting and physically intense, especially when you have three in diapers. It’s managing schedules, and cleaning, and preparing food, and endless driving, and resisting the monotony, and thinking beyond yourself. But Colin stepped right in and took it all up like he’s not used to sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day. And he did it almost without complaint. Almost.

He’s also found the joyful aspect of the job, too. The funny, creative, rough and tumble, curious, adventurous, nurturing side of the everyday tasks, as well. He’s playful with the kids and finds ways to make them laugh. He gets in there and colors with them. He let’s them climb all over him. Not that he didn’t do all these things before. It’s just now he gets to do it all day long. It’s been good for me to observe, reminding me to find balance throughout the day. Sometimes I let the aforementioned chores bog me down. I appreciate his approach.

But let’s not be fooled by the title of this post. This is a dad we’re talking about. Let’s put the manliness back in the role with some stats from the last few weeks:

  • 11 poopy diapers changed in one day
  • 1 kid out of diapers (Possibly, maybe for good? Post to follow.)
  • 9 wrestling matches of 4 on 1
  • 8 trips to Costco with all four kids
  • 15 school lunches prepared (always the worst part of my day)
  • 3 times starting the day with all children awake before 6:15AM
  • 100 times feeding twins by himself (3 meals and 2 snacks a day)

I’m going to be sad to see him go back to the office at the end of my recovery. Not just because I’ve appreciated all his hard work (which I have immensely) and will be longing for his daily help (which I definitely will), but because I will just plain miss having him around.

Viewing the Christmas Lights

We decided to take the kids for a drive around Santa Barbara to see some Christmas lights. There is even a website that gives you a whole route to take, complete with directions of where and when to turn. (Thanks for the tip, MK!) It’s the same path that the touring trolley cars take. It sounded like a great activity for the Christmas season.

There is only one word that can be used to describe our evening of Christmas light viewing: BUST!

And it wasn’t because there was anything wrong with the route or that the traffic was out of hand. No. It was because our children either a) fell asleep or b) complained the entire trip. Specifically, the three youngest nodded off before we even made it off the freeway exit and the oldest whined about every single thing.

Maybe we set the stage wrong, I don’t know. All I know is that from the moment we turned on to State Street and the start of the route, Warren began complaining.

“What is this we’re listening to?” he grumbled from the back, even as the brightly lit store displays and decorative stars over the street lamps gleamed outside the car window. The Christmas c.d. had just switched to a comedic story we enjoy hearing once a year, “Polly Anderson’s Christmas Party.” Perhaps he was expecting “Frosty the Snowman” and was greatly disappointed to hear a Canadian accent instead.

After the fourth time whining to know when it would be over, I turned around in irritation.

“Warren, we’re here to see the lights. Your sister and brothers are asleep. That means this is all for you now. If you’re not enjoying the drive and happy to see the lights then we’re going to go home,” I told him sternly. His half-hearted okay led me to believe that his bad attitude would reappear shortly.

Unfortunately, I was right. We continued on the path and made it to the second neighborhood of many participating houses when he piped in once again.

“I’m bored!” he announced in a surly, Grinchy tone.

I took one last terrible picture of a lighted house (photographing in low lighting from a moving vehicle has too many limitations, even with a good camera) and told Colin to turn that car around. We were going home.

As soon as we stated that we were done and heading back, he let out a wail. And then he kept wailing all the way home.

“I want to go back! Let’s go back! We didn’t see enough lights! Please! Please! Let’s see more lights! We have to see more lights!” he cried in outrage.

In our 20 minute drive home I went from supreme irritation to disappointment to sympathy. In the end, I just felt bad for him. Sometimes it’s hard to be a kid. You just don’t know what you want or how to express it and when you do get what you want sometimes it’s overwhelming to handle.

Too much excitement? Too much stimulation? Too much sugar throughout the day? I don’t know what happened with Warren, but I do know that he deeply regretted his choice of attitude. Maybe next time he’ll think before he complains. At least when it comes to Christmas lights.

And maybe next year, more of our children will actually be awake for this outing.

“I Got a Nikon Camera…”

“I love to take a photograph.”

That’s the Paul Simon song that I’ve had in my head ever since we purchased this little beauty (an early Christmas present):

The Nikon D5100. I’m in love. Now you will see random, meaningless pictures show up on blog posts just because I’m practicing. Like this one:

It’s the handle of the orange tree planter we inherited from friends that just moved to Utah. (Thanks again, Nicole and Ryan! We miss you guys.)

Needless to say, I have much to learn about this camera. But I can’t wait to get started.

“Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away…”

{Hopefully, the song is sufficiently stuck in your head now, too.}

P.S. A special shout out of thanks to Mary Karlee for babysitting at the last minute so we could go buy this new toy and go see a movie at the theater!

The Eggnog to Beat All Eggnogs

We came upon this treat completely by accident.

On our most recent overnight temple trip we realized we didn’t bring any milk. We made a quick pit stop at Bristol Farms grocery store on Westwood Boulevard and I walked in to buy a half gallon that was sure to be $6.

Glancing at the dairy shelf, I noticed eggnog (a Christmas weakness of ours) in a variety of brands. But the one that caught my eye was in a glass bottle. It just had to be good. I called Colin, who was sitting with the kids in the car, and asked if he agreed that it was worth the extra cash to try this new brand or if we should just stick to the Knudsens that we already liked just fine.

His sensibility almost won out. But when I got to the checkout and saw one more small refrigerator full of the pretty bottles, I couldn’t pass it by again. It must have been fate. Just to be sure, I asked the cashier what he thought of the Broguiere’s Dairy brand. He hadn’t personally tried it (not a nog drinker), but he said it always sold out every Christmas season. Just then another cashier chimed in and then another to emphatically tell me that this is the best eggnog around. Sold.

Fresh, creamy, and so, so rich, it’s hard to go back to what we once called good.

You have me Broguiere’s. You have me. I’m yours completely come December 1st. Or late November. But who’s counting? Coupled with Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps, you’re the finest of the season.

Who knew that poor planning could lead to such joy?

High Chair Differences

One baby is an eater. The other not as much. You can tell by the differences between their high chairs after a meal.

On the left is where Joey sits. Often he leaves uneaten food items on the tray, as pictured above. But mostly he likes to chuck it over the side and onto the floor to demonstrate he’s done. Lovely. He is better at the pincer grasp so the things he does pick up go neatly into his mouth. The problem is he tends to put less in his mouth than on the ground.

Jake sits on the right. He’s not as savvy with the fine motor skills. Instead he scoops his food and shovels as much as he can into his mouth. Much of it ends up on the floor, too, but not for lack of trying to consume it.

I cleaned the floor before I took this picture, so you don’t get the full effect of the mess potential. But you can imagine. I’m back to my Cinderella status again. And they haven’t even tried using their own utensils to feed themselves yet. I can hardly wait.

Cruel Shoes

Perhaps you saw my outfit from Jackie’s wedding? I needed something to give my black and white ensemble some pizazz. I love shoes, so naturally I turned to adding color to my feet. I found some red heels that seemed perfect. Peep toe, shiny, and overall eye-catching.

There was only one problem with them: they were THE CRUEL SHOES.

Anna knew She had to have a new pair of shoes today, and Carlo had helped her try on every pair in the store. Carlo spoke wearily, “Well, that’s it. That’s every pair of shoes in the place.”

“Oh, you must have one more pair….”

“No, not one more… . Well, we have the cruel shoes, but no one would want to try…

“Yes, let me see the cruel shoes!”

“No, you don’t understand, you see, the cruel shoes are…’

“Get them!”

Carlo disappeared into the back room for a moment, and then reappeared carrying an ordinary shoebox. He took off the lid and re-moved a hideous pair of black and white pumps. But this was not an ordinary pair of black and white pumps; both were left feet, one had a right angle turn with separate compartments that pointed the toes in impossible directions. The other shoe was six inches long and was curved inward like a rocking chair with a vise and razor blades to hold the foot in place.

Carlo spoke hesitantly, “… Now you see… they’ re not fit for humans…”

“Put them on me.”

“But… ”

“Put them on me!”

Carlo knew all arguments were useless. He knelt down before her and forced the feet into the shoes.

The screams were incredible.

Anna crawled over to the mirror and held her bloody feet up where she could see.

“I like them.”

She paid Carlo and crawled out of the store into the street.

Later that day, Carlo was overheard saying to a new customer, “Well, that’s it. That’s every pair of shoes in the place. Unless, of course, you’d like to try the cruel shoes.”

And they were that painful. Almost. Considering, only 20 minutes into the event, I was wincing with every step I took, the top of the “peep toe” area was cutting into my right big toe leaving a visible mark, and I took them off as soon as I was seated from walking Maddie the Flower Girl down the aisle, I’d call that more than uncomfortable.

Colin joked that my feet might just be in the cruel shoes and I believe he’s right. Now every time I put them on I have Steve Martin’s reading of his story in my head.

But fashion before function, right? They did look great!

So, aside from the pain factor, the fact that they have a burnt cigarette mixed with BBQ smell from the cheap patent leather that forces me to store them in the garage, and the clumsy way I feel walking in such tall heels, I love these shoes!

Bedroom Shuffle

We live in a three bedroom house. It’s not what you’d call large, but it feels comfortable and spacious enough for our needs. Or so we thought.

Prior to Jake and Joey joining our family in December of 2010, Maddie and Warren had their own bedrooms. Maddie was still in a crib and Warren slept on the top of his bunk bed. When the boys arrived, we moved Maddie into Warren’s room where she went straight to the bottom bunk without any problems transitioning. In fact, both older kids seemed to do better knowing the other was there too. Jake and Joe then shared Maddie’s old crib in Maddie’s old room. Everything was just right.

Then we learned that our set-up did not comply with State Foster Home Licensing requirements which say that children of opposite gender over the age of 5 cannot share a room.

Now, we knew this rule. It was one of the reasons we moved from our old apartment into this house in the first place. But we were under the impression that the rule only applied to foster children in our care, not our own legally adopted children. How aggravating that some bureaucratic agency was telling us how to raise our children! But this is the way of the foster-to-adopt path. You don’t have complete autonomy in decision-making, as parents. It’s just something you have to accept knowing that it will one day come to an end.

So, we moved Maddie back into her old room (which was still quite girly looking with cute owl decals on the wall, and such) and bought her a gigantic bunk bed. It’s actually a three bed system: twin on top, full on the bottom, and a pull out trundle underneath. Now when you come for a visit you can have the “guest room” which will most likely feel like bunking in a submarine, but hey, at least you’ll be close to the beach.

The next logical move would have been to put Jake and Joe in with Warren, making it the boys’ room, right? Wrong. Another Foster Home rule states that you can’t have more than two children per bedroom. What? Who has that kind of space in Santa Barbara?? And we have twins, for pity’s sake! We can’t separate them.

So, we applied for a waiver, hoping to be allowed permission to have the three boys share Warren’s room. We were denied. The woman making the decision based her judgement on a (tragic) case that occurred a few years back she had approved. Despite knowing our family members would not recreate that situation, there was nothing more we could do to sway the decision.

The only option, at that point, was to put the babies in our bedroom, since foster children are allowed to be in the parents’ bedroom up until age two. We tried and tried and tried to come up with a solution where they would NOT be sharing our sleeping quarters and only sanctuary from little voices and bodies, but there was nothing else we could think of that would work.

*Sigh*

Remember how excited I was when we got our new bed frame and our bedroom stopped feeling like a dorm room? Now the ambiance is a little less peaceful.

Yes, that’s two cribs you see because another foster rule states that each child must have his/her own bed. Plus it was time for them to have separate cribs anyway because they were starting to wake each other up with all that night movement. I do miss the side-by-side sleeping, though.

In the end, I just have to remind myself that this too shall pass. It’s looking better and better that these sweet boys will stay with us forever and that the adoption process could start sooner than later. (More info to come.) The sleeping situation may not be ideal, but at least we have Jake and Joe with us. And really, that’s all that matters.

(Machine-less) Homemade Ice Cream

I’ve recently become obsessed with a website called Pinterest. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s an online resource for gathering and sharing ideas. Sort of a virtual corkboard for pinning your favorite things. My cousin-in-law, Jenna, did a great post on how it works. You can find all sorts of fun things on there spanning several categories. Can you guess which of my categories (besides Halloween decorations) is currently overflowing? That’s right, it’s Recipes. And I’ve found some goodies.

Last night we tried this one (pinned first by Jenna– thanks!). It’s an ice cream recipe that doesn’t require a machine to make it. And it claimed to produce a smooth and creamy texture. Sounds too good to be true? I was skeptical, but had to give it a go.

Seriously, people. You have to try this recipe! It’s not Ben & Jerry’s or even Thrifty’s Ice Cream, but it is goooooood. She gives some suggestions for flavors that sound delish. We went with our own this time: Nutella Toffee Crunch. Take the basic recipe and add 1/2 cup Nutella, 1/2 cup toffee bits, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.

It came out of the freezer looking like this:

It was pretty smooth and surprisingly creamy. The straight whipping cream parts were slightly icy, but not bad at all. For what it was, and how easy it was to prepare, I’d call this a winner.

We enjoyed it for Family Home Evening tonight. Maddie kept saying, “This is my favorite ice cream!” though using the word “favorite” is currently her favorite thing to do. Still. Try it. You won’t be sorry.

 

The Sneak

I’m sure she means no harm. At least that’s what I’m trying to convince myself. But too often when I leave the room for even a moment, Maddie finds mischief. Sneaky mischief.

For instance, the other day I made the mistake of leaving the jar of peanut butter out on the counter within her arm’s reach. I was engaged in some activity (I think it was using the restroom in privacy, heaven forbid) and when I returned to a quiet living room I knew we had trouble. Sure enough, after calling out her name to no response, I found her like this:

Behind our couch, her favorite hiding spot for sneaking the forbidden. Only the picture above is of a separate occasion where she had grabbed Warren’s school lunch box to munch on the leftover contents. Other items she’s smuggled back there include my cell phone, our family memory book of the vacation to Disneyland last year (I have to monitor her viewing because she ripped a page in the past), and a Nutri-Grain bar. The cereal bar she actually stashed and came back to a few days later.

But wait. It gets better.

Her penchant for mischief exhibits itself beyond the back of the couch, as seen in her face decorating episode, and in the other choice ways she asserts her fierce independence. A most classic example occurred a few months ago.

Lunch for the babies had officially ended when Jake leaked out his last bite of peas with a slight scowl. I gave up and quit encouraging them to eat more. I laid the boys down on the blanket in the living room to play (Jake on his belly and Joey on his back) while I went to the kitchen to clean up the bibs, washcloths, spoons, and half-empty bowls. I made the mistake of only bringing the first two items with me.

It was only going to take me a minute to finish wiping down the bibs and ring out the washcloths, I swear. I turned off the faucet and heard the familiar sounds of a baby in distress. I called out to Maddie to see where she was and what she was doing.

When I walked back into the living room and looked on the ground to check on the babies, I saw Maddie kneeling over a defenseless Joey now covered in pureed peas. She had taken the bowl and spoon off the table and had recommenced feeding him. For the one minute it had taken me to rinse those things she had shoveled spoonful after spoonful at his mouth. I don’t think she even got any in because it was all over his face and clothes and even on the carpet.

He never cried. He just looked about as shocked as I felt.

I want to tell you that I was calm, that I was amused at her idea of helpfulness, that I was even in control of my own emotions. Or that I had the presence of mind to take a picture. I was none of those things. I was livid.

“Arrrrrrrrgh! Maddie! What am I going to DO with you!” I screeched in a voice I didn’t even recognize as my own. I uttered some other guttural sound and whisked her away to her room, threw her in, and shut the door. She only cried for one second (literally) and then I heard her playing with toys. There seems to be little that phases her these days, or she’s used to my outbursts of frustration. Sad, either way.

I looked at the mess I had to clean up and felt dejected. I know this is a phase. Two-year-olds are notorious for this kind of “creativity,” but I had faced one too many episodes that week.

She doesn’t tantrum. She doesn’t whine about things until she gets her way. She doesn’t have issues with sharing or taking turns. But sometimes I wish that she’d swap out her sneaky ways for another toddler tactic every once in awhile. Just to shake it up a bit.

It’s a good thing 2-year-olds are hilarious. And cute. And this girl is both, though sometimes I need pictures like this to remind me:

That Small Town Feeling

Some may mock me for saying this but I think that Santa Barbara has that small town kind of feeling.

Granted, my perspective is a bit skewed since I have only ever lived in big cities. Make that two out of the top three largest cities in the United States: the Los Angeles suburbs known lovingly as “The Valley” (yes, I am a “Valley Girl” but do not say “like” any more than you do, thank you very much), and the south side of Chicago (the very definition of urban jungle). The third “big” city I’ve called home is Seattle, which I considered to be on the small side but I know Christy thinks is much too large for comfort.

Still, you can’t deny the tell-tail signs of familiarity that life in a town with a population less than 500,000 people brings.

For instance, I see the same cars driving around town and often know at least in which direction the owners live if not exactly where they reside. On a given day, I can go to the post office and then the library and see the same customers in both places.

Given enough time in the conversation, people you just meet at a work gathering or friend’s party are sure to know someone you know from church or school or one of the various community moms’ playgroups.

But if that’s not enough, I can almost guarantee that I see at least one person that I actually, really know while out on an errand. Last week I went to Trader Joe’s and saw two gals I personally knew from two separate organizations. Then at Costco, on the same outing, I recognized a lady and her sweet son that I’d only ever heard about but had never met (our children share the same Early Start therapist since they both have heart issues).

Need more proof? While browsing through a local photographer’s online galleries I saw lovely photos of a woman and her daughter I know from Warren’s school.

Christmas parades, outings to the zoo, and beach trips are also hot-spots for sighting people you’ve interacted with before. It’s pretty much unavoidable.

And you know what? I love it. Not so small that the main source of entertainment is keeping track of one another’s personal business, and not so big that no one cares or even notices beyond his own street corner, Santa Barbara seems to be just the right size. I love that it feels like a true community here. People seem a little more invested because it’s so obvious we’re all neighbors.

It’s a good feeling. It feels like home.