Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cooking With Toddlers

Long, long ago, I maintained a regular weekly feature on this blog, called What-to-Do Wednesdays. It was all about fun activities to do with small children. Remember that?

Well, in the interest of reviving the idea of posting kids' activities, and in homage to a "Spring Break" involving hours on end stuck inside the house during rain, wind, and sleet, while wishing that preschool and toddler-class would start again, I present a recipe for baking with your children.

I've posted a link to this recipe before, but today I'll give you the entire thing right here, because this is how my little ones and I spent the morning: making Herb-Oat Bread to have tonight with the leftover cheese frittata from last night.

I've said before that I do a lot of baking and cooking with my girls. I cook from scratch pretty much every day, and involving Julia and Genevieve in the process is a good way to get things done while also spending quality time with them. They love it. So, anyway, here's what we made today (from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures, by Jeanne Lemlin):

Herb-Oat Bread

Ingredients:

1-1/4 c. rolled oats
1 c. all-purpose or unbleached flour
1/4 c. whole-wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. each: dried basil, dried oregano, dried dill
1/8 tsp. crumbled dried rosemary
1/4 c. vegetable/canola oil
1/4 c. honey
1-1/4 c. plain lowfat or nonfat yogurt, or same amount buttermilk (or combination of the two to make the total amount)
2 eggs, beaten

Grease a regular-size loaf pan (about 9" x 5"). Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place oats in a blender or food processor and grind until almost powdery. Pour into a large bowl and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and herbs.

In a small saucepan, heat oil and honey just until blended. Pour into a medium bowl and add yogurt or buttermilk and beaten eggs.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix just until evenly moistened. Do not over-beat. Scrape into pan. Bake 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into center of bread comes out clean. If top starts to get too brown before bread is done, lay a sheet of foil over top of pan and continue baking.

When done, let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Miss 3.5" Floppy Disks

Our "good" laptop came back from Apple today, all fixed but with its hard-drive wiped out. That means that the column for my new writing job--the column that I spent most of a recent Saturday morning writing, and which is due soon--is gone forever. Christopher backs up everything on our computer onto a zip drive once a week, but it just so happened that the laptop died the morning after I finished my column, before it could be saved anywhere else. I'm giving myself 24 hours to wallow in self-pity and dismay before trying to recreate the piece (which isn't likely; I have almost no memory of what I wrote).

This is not helping my mood.

Spring Break

Here's the funny thing about stress. You can be completely cognizant of the fact that other people you know and love are in far worse situations than you are at the present moment--they are losing their homes to flood or foreclosure, they are trying to maintain a "normal" daily existence as water laps near their back doors and all the schools are closed and postal service is out and the water from the tap is undrinkable and there is no way to get anywhere for anything--and you can be very, very grateful that you are not in those situations. And yet, at the very same time, that insight does not really help your own, more mundane, stress at all. You still feel just as crazed about the fact that your banking has been messed up for three weeks and you currently have no access to your money (it's a long story, people); that the money you have no access to isn't enough, anyway; that the computer that has your column due to your freelance-gig boss within days on its hard-drive is away in the shop after a sudden breakdown (yes, we back up, but the computer died literally the morning after I wrote the column and we back up once a week); that you don't know if you should send your toddler to preschool in the fall but you have to make a decision NOW; that you're sick of sitting in the hallway at bedtime so the toddler won't cry; that it's still not spring; that last week you were stuck inside for days on end due to bad weather and kid-sickness and no car, and here you are on spring break with no preschool and no toddler class and still more bad weather and no car; that you fear you may lose your mind over all this.

And you realize that your friends and family surviving the flood and worried over losing their home would think these worries were nothing--NOTHING--compared with their worries, and of course they'd be right. But for some reason that doesn't make you feel any better.

Believe me: if YOU'RE tired of all my complaining, just think how tired I am of all of it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Night Sixteen

I've been meaning to update everyone on the progress of Genevieve's Sleep-Training Intervention. As you may recall, more than two weeks ago, in a fit of desperation, I decided to finally (hopefully) eliminate my toddler's year-long bedtime crying fits once and for all, by sitting by her crib until she fell asleep at night and then gradually moving out of the room. It was 16 nights ago that I began this process.

Does it surprise any of you who know Genevieve that we're on day 17, and still at it? Probably not.

Two nights ago I crossed the nursery threshold for the first time and sat in the hallway, the door cracked several inches so she would know I was there. She wasn't sure about this at first, but acquiesced. Last night I swung the door shut too soon, hoping to creep away amidst the silence, but she protested my haste and I was forced to re-open it and call out to her, "It's OK, Vivi, Mama's still here, I'm right outside the door, now go to sleep nicely." She eventually did. At the suggestion of a friend's mom, I think tonight (or soon) I'll further the transition to independent bedtime by telling her that I'll be outside the door for 20 minutes, that she can rest easily knowing I'll be there for a set period, and then I'll go when it's time, because she's fine. I don't want to trick her by pretending to stay outside the door but not, even if she can't really see me through the crack, because I'm afraid to jeopardize the tenuous trust we've formed during this bedtime intervention. Genevieve won't know what 20 minutes means, but she'll get the general idea.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that during this period of patience-testing sleep-training, I've begun to seriously reconsider our previous decision to wait an extra year before sending Genevieve to preschool. She's such an extreme rascal, and lately I've been thinking about the fact that in the fall, Julia will be gone every morning to kindergarten. It will be just me with Genevieve, five mornings a week. Since I shamelessly rely on Julia to help entertain, distract, and mollify Ms. Crabbypants, I'm starting to wonder if I'm crazy to voluntarily postpone Genevieve's entry into the preschool's Threes Class. True, she'll be a baby of an incoming three-year-old (late summer birthday and all that). And true, she's not even close to potty-training (I've tabled that project until after the sleep dilemma is resolved; a toddler--and a parent!--can only tackle so much Extreme Developmental Progress at one time). Also true, we were looking forward to saving nearly $1,000 on preschool tuition next year, a sum that could make our daily lives much more financially manageable. But then again: I MIGHT GO INSANE.

The problem is, time is running out. The class is almost filled, and if I want a spot for Genevieve, I've got to make a decision SOON.

So there you have it. Every night, I sit in the hallway in the dark outside the cracked nursery door, and I rack my brain for an answer to what to do with Genevieve. I have a very strong feeling that I'm going to be doing this very thing, more or less, for the next 20 years.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hell and High Water

Here in Wonderland, we're having a wonderful weekend so far: Julia's newly in love with Barbies (she received a handful of very old used ones from a cousin last week, some of which I swear I remember from my own childhood days), the sun is out, and this morning, for the first time since Labor Day, Christopher and I hired a babysitter--one of the sweet, kid-brilliant daughters of dear friend Mnmom--and went on a morning run in the college Arboretum and then downtown to a local coffee shop for mochas and pastry (when you've just run five miles, you can justify it). Ahhhh. Thank you, tax refund, thank you. Would that we could afford to make the Saturday babysitter date a weekly thing.

Up north, though, things are decidedly less rosy, as the river continues to rise, levees breach, and half my parents' town is evacuated and holed up in the makeshift shelter in the high school. This website has some of the most amazing--and horrifying--photos of what's going on up there that I've yet seen. When I'm not having fun running in the woods and eating scones with my husband, I'm so sad and worried for my hometown. And on it goes...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Update

The girls and I have been trapped inside the house for the past three straight days--long, long days--as Julia has been sick with a fever and an awful cough, and the weather's been rainy and windy and freezing and sleety, and Christopher's taken the car to work so as not to have to bike in the rain and wind and freezing sleet. I've skipped all my runs, unwilling to chill my bones any further this season, and have medicated my jangly, frustrated nerves with mint chocolate-chip and The Real Housewives of New York City on Bravo (which is a strange combination of addictive and horrifying). I'm still sitting in the nursery at bedtime (14 nights now, God help me), and though it's looking up (last night I sat outside the cracked-open door, in the hallway, and sneaked away before Genevieve was likely asleep), it's hard to put into words just how much this whole sleep-training intervention has interfered with the small pleasures of my daily life. You might not think it would bother you that much to lose an hour each evening--an hour you'd normally spend reading library books or talking to your husband or surfing the Internet or watching TV or sleeping or running or bathing--to sitting in the dark by your toddler's crib, but after 14 days, and when that hour is most of my only free time each day, it's taken its toll. However, I do think it's almost over.

But the real drama is the Red River flood, which has overtaken my hometown of Moorhead, Minnesota. (For my non-local readers: Fargo-Moorhead is structurally akin to Minneapolis-St. Paul; two cities separated by a river, but which form one seamless metropolitan area. It's just that in the case of Fargo-Moorhead, the two cities are, weirdly, in two different states. So that when I was growing up, I might go to the grocery store in MN and then drive 60 more seconds to cross the river and visit a shop in ND.) Things up there have gotten indescribably bad. Overnight the hospital where my dad works as a chaplain was forced to evacuate patients. One of my oldest friends--who drove four hours north from Minneapolis yesterday to help sandbag--helped her parents evacuate their Moorhead home last night (many homess have now gotten mandatory evacuation orders). My older sister's town--a tiny burg of 400, 30 miles north of Moorhead but still along the river--is now an island. When my father went to work yesterday, he took a suitcase in case he wasn't able to cross the bridge back home at the end of the day. The college in Moorhead has shut down and evacuated all students and staff. Things are really, really bad--worse than the tragic flood of 1997, which is just unfathomable.

Please consider praying for the community, and/or donating to the Fargo-Moorhead Red Cross.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's Not All Doom and Gloom Around Here

Two funny things my daughters did today:

After witnessing me enhancing my brows the other day with an eyebrow pencil, today Genevieve took a pink ballpoint gel-pen and, while unsupervised, drew two lines on her forehead with it, one over each eye. Then she ran into my room and jubilantly showed me her "make-up." Uh, that would be non-washable pink ballpoint gel-pen.

Julia referred to the bikini-swimsuit-top portion of a Colorforms mermaid outfit as "the breast-holders."

Hee!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Hometown is Underwater

Christopher's been writing about the flood overtaking my hometown on his blog today, and including a clip of great alt-country band The Bottle Rockets singing "Get Down, River," a song I hadn't heard in ten years and which today, given the context, immediately brought tears to my eyes; and word comes from my mom today via e-mail:

"It is getting scarier up here with the crest now predicted to 41+ feet. Dikes had been built to 42' and now have to be added to get up to 43'. In some of the southernmost part of Fargo, a number of individual home ring dikes have breached and Coast Guard and others are rescuing them and bringing them to shelters. I think our area is safe to a 44' crest but our problems would come if the sump pump goes out or electricity goes out for some reason. I am in the process of getting what I can off the basement floor but as in 2000 we would likely lose carpet (which wouldn't be the worst thing!) but cause so much work that we can no longer do ourselves. Eventide [an area nursing home] is being evacuated. Hendrum [my sister's tiny town, 30 miles north] is pleading for volunteers, also for their outlying areas as they built a ring dike for the town after the 1997 flood....What a mess. We covet your thoughts and prayers."

In 1997 the entire area was devastated by a terrible Red River flood, to a degree I couldn't even comprehend at the time (I was living two states away then, immersed in a demanding Ph.D. program and without the kind of 24/7 Internet news coverage available today). The situation right now is worse than it was then.

We wish we were up there to help sandbag, but in the end all we can do is wait and watch from 300 miles away.

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

My sweet writer friend Rob mentions my latest publication--an essay in a local lifestyle magazine--in his blog post today. Rob has been relentless in his support of my writing during the past year, which is pretty nice considering my penchant for using my writing to rant about various petty complaints. Ha. Thank you, Rob!

Sick Kid, Rain, Frustration

I keep telling myself that one of these weeks, spring weather is going to come for good, and the girls and I will be able to go outside to play--sans boots and mittens and hats--every day, and the sun will be out and running will be easy and pleasant and won't involve fighting against gale-force winds or drizzle or freezing rain, and maybe even my schedule will lighten up a little and we won't have meetings and volunteer work and trips and doctor appointments filling every single week to capacity, and the kids' winter colds will pass and the laptop will be repaired and the bank accounts that TCF messed up for us will be resolved (tip: do not bank with TCF) and I'll actually be able to pay bills easily again and without the use of my CREDIT CARD, and I'll figure out the whole Genevieve-and-preschool question once and for all, and maybe I'll even get rid of those pesky recent extra five pounds, and Genevieve will finally be successfully sleep-trained and no one will cry at bedtime nor sit on the floor of the nursery in the dark. And when all that happens (what are the chances, do you think?), I'm going to be the happiest mama in town. I will write blog posts about lazy afternoons, blue skies, hopscotch on the driveway, playground playdates, grand plans and good moods.

In the meantime, I am giving thanks that I'm not dealing with the flood that is currently ravaging my hometown in northwestern Minnesota, and I am keeping everyone there (including many relatives and family friends) in my thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm Glad it's (Probably) Not Cancer, But Seriously?

This morning I ran off before breakfast for an appointment at my OB's office. (No, I'm not pregnant.) I had some symptoms I was worried about, but it turns out it's probably nothing. I'm supposed to give it two weeks and if it doesn't seem resolved, go back in for further examination. I'm not worried about it at all, but I needed the check-up anyway, so that's fine. It was just sort of stressful to manage the logistics of a last-minute, early-a.m. doctor appointment on such short notice, and with two children under five to accomodate. Thank goodness for Christopher's incredibly understanding office.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say was this: the scale at my OB's office gives my weight as TEN POUNDS MORE than my scale at home would have me believe. I'm used to doctor's office scales always reading heavier than bathroom scales--boo, by the way--but TEN FREAKING POUNDS? People, that is JUST SICK.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Real Housewives of the New Economy

Let's take a break from discussing my two-year-old and her sleep-training escapades--noting that last night's bedtime was once again quick and easy, on a nap-less day, but that the middle of the night brought a mysterious crying fit that left me awake for hours, after its eventual resolution, listening to the wind/rainstorm outside and the snoring inside and the rantings of my brain which involved stressful things like preschool admissions and credit card bills and various amorphous physical maladies that have been haunting me lately and no doubt merit a doctor appointment--and move on to other things for a moment.

Over the weekend I came into a little windfall of cash--a true surprise, the kind of money that makes you feel completely guiltless about spending it, because it was money you never expected to have in the first place. And so I went to Target with the new spring ad layout in hand and happily, and guilt-free, bought a variety of items that, while they would never easily fall into the category of "need" in the same way that groceries, health insurance, and prescription medications do, are things that I've gone without for a long time and could really use. Things I've been looking for, sometimes for years. Things I've said I "need." Things to replace really old, unflattering things I've been making do with for a long time. You know: a bright-pink cardigan. A khaki short skirt. New yoga pants (my current pairs include one I bought when I was postpartum with Julia--that's all you really need to know--and two that are hand-me-downs from a friend who is four inches taller than I am). A workout tank to replace the ones I wore to death last summer when it was 90 degrees most of the time. A pink floral scarf I've been searching for all fall/winter, to brighten up my boring beige trench on rainy days like today.

And this morning I am seriously contemplating returning half of it, because yoga pants and chino skirts aren't doctor bills and preschool tuition. Does a stay-at-home mom deserve to spend money on herself? is the question I wrestle with. (You'll notice it does not always stop me from spending money on myself.) Welcome to the New Economy!

In other news, over the weekend I joined Facebook and I'm already totally burned out on all the messages, notifications, friends, comments, and general time-suckage. Yikes! Who has time, people? I admit it's very fun to be in touch with nice people--and all you honeys know who you are!--but I'm afraid at this rate I'll be attached to the laptop 24/7. And that's not good, people.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Night Nine: A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

I haven't procured any books on CD yet, but maybe I won't need them. Last night I sat way over by the nursery door at the girls' bedtime. They had played hard outside all day long, and despite good naps, they were fairly tired. After only 15 minutes, I got up to sneak out of the room. Genevieve apparently wasn't quite asleep yet, though (foiled again!), because she began to cry. When I went over to her crib, however, she calmed down. I gave her an extra stuffed animal and said, "Mama's going to go now, OK? Go right to sleep with no fussing. Can you do that?" She whimpered, "Yes," so I left. And she did! Overnight she did wake up and call a couple of times; she's got a mild cold and was a bit stuffed up, and once she needed an extra blanket (confounding spring weather!). But both girls slept until almost 8 a.m., and Genevieve even refrained from having any meltdowns over breakfast (a regular occurrence). Final analysis: looking good.

After tonight, I will be gone at bedtime for two nights in a row (no, no--not for anything fun. a volunteer Board meeting and a local lecture I'm attending to get CEUs for my psychologist license). Christopher will have to stand--er, sit--in for me. I wonder how that will go.

For the record, I'm as bored by this topic as I'm sure many of you are. However, I feel compelled to continue the updates. It's been a long year, people, and we've all got to see how it's going to end up! Will Mama succeed? Will Genevieve learn to go to bed without crying? Will this family see happier evenings to come? Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Night Eight

Ah, my faithful readers, hanging in here with me as I sleep-train Genevieve for the second time in her life. (By the way, WHO KNEW? When I finished sleep-training Genevieve for the FIRST time, when she was a BABY, I rejoiced that I would never have to suffer through baby sleep-training ever again. In fact, it was one of the main sources of comfort when I wondered if I was really ready to be done having babies. And yet here I am, 1-1/2 years or more later, still sleep-training. And I don't even like that stupid phrase or, really, even the idea.)

Last night Genevieve fell asleep in 25 minutes--and, once again, didn't cry at all overnight (and by the way, YES, it does feel like a miracle every single time I get an entire night of uninterrupted sleep. It's the most amazing feeling. It makes you realize how basic to one's well-being sleep really is!).

The bedtime vigil was non-eventful. She had taken a long nap in the afternoon and so we kept her up until eight. It's likely true that if I nixed her naps altogether, she might fall asleep easier and earlier every night once she got used to the pattern, but I have serious reservations. First, when Julia was almost three, and again when she was almost four, I was sure she was getting ready to drop her nap; however, I didn't force the issue, and as time went on she moved back to taking solid daily naps, which are now often longer than she ever took as a toddler.

This relates to my second thought, which is that according to the one particular sleep book I actually like, most children really do need naps until about age five, even though many parents allow the nap to be dropped earlier than that (often because they misunderstand behavioral clues and think they have no choice but to eliminate the nap). Of course it's true that some children just do not need to nap as long as others do, but I don't know yet if Genevieve is one of those. She skips her nap a fair amount, but I'm waiting to see if resolution of the nighttime sleep problems has any positive effect on her napping schedule (one of the odd paradoxes of young children: sleep begets sleep).

Lastly, I believe wholeheartedly in "quiet time" or "rest time" during the afternoon, even if sleeping does not occur. But, at this age, Genevieve is not able to understand and internalize that notion. If she does not sleep at naptime, she calls and yells at the top of her lungs until I get her up--even if she's only been in her bed a short time. Generally speaking, there's no going in to remind her she does not have to sleep but she does have to play quietly in her crib. She does not get that. I can definitely see how an older child might be able to comprehend this concept and agree to look at books or play quietly in her bed for an hour, but Genevieve's only two. If she's awake, she's done with the crib and is ready to get up and play. If I drop her nap now, it will be difficult later on to institute a new plan for afternoon "quiet time" that allows for rest (for both of us).

That said, who knows? Parenting is often about flying by the seat of your pants, I've found. I guess we'll do what we have to do. But I will tell you this: if Genevieve stops napping, I am FOR SURE sending her off to preschool in the fall. Because all day every day of Genevieve is just a little too much Genevieve. I'm sure you understand.

Friday, March 20, 2009

We Had NO OTHER Sweets in the House. I HAD NO CHOICE.

This week, other than taking Julia to and from preschool on Wednesday and going for a couple of runs, I have not been out of the house since Monday (when I did the school run and took Genevieve on errands and to her parent-toddler class). Today it is Visitor's Day at Julia's nursery school, but since siblings aren't allowed to attend, Christopher stayed home from work this morning and went with Julia to school as her Special Visitor. Thus, I still haven't been anywhere since Monday.

But that has to change tonight because I have to go to the grocery store. I need to replace the girls' gummy worms that I accidentally ate. Um, oops? Listen, people, sugar cravings are a very real phenomenon and are not to be ignored.

In other lame news, I have gone running twice this week and both times I had to stop and walk to catch my breath and rest my legs. What am I, old?

Night Seven: Under Twenty Minutes!

Are you tired of hearing about my toddler's sleep yet?

I have a success to report: last night I was out of the nursery in 20 minutes flat, allowing time to make sure Genevieve was out before I crept away. I'm quite sure that last evening's quick bedtime was because she didn't nap yesterday. In the past, that hasn't guaranteed anything, but I could tell Genevieve was very tired by nightfall. She kept yawning and even saying, "I tired."

Here's something interesting: Ever since she started going to sleep without crying (with me in the room to do so), Genevieve has stopped--almost 100%--all her previous talking/yelling in her sleep, which we always attributed to nightmares. I don't mean the waking and crying, which appears to be related to reflux and goes away if she takes her medicine and doesn't eat pizza for dinner; I mean the fact that she used to shout and indignantly yell things like, "Nooooo!" or "Go awaaaaaay!" in her sleep, all night long, waking me up each time of course but requiring no intervention. She was dreaming. She doesn't do that anymore. It's as if the fact that she's no longer spending an hour or so crying over going to bed has washed all the residual negative emotion out of her brain, and she isn't agitated in her sleep anymore. It's so strange.

I promise I'll start writing about something else one of these days.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Night Six

Last night I sat in the nursery from 8 to 9:15. I tried to sneak out at 8:40, but Genevieve actually woke up (or wasn't asleep yet), started crying, and called me back in. ARGH!

I know, I know: one day I'll WISH I could sit four feet from my children, monitoring their every movement. Guess what? That doesn't help.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Miss My Evenings

I'm trying to maintain a good attitude about it, but this whole Mama-Does-the-Nightly-Cribside-Bedtime-Vigil thing is really throwing a wrench into my schedule. I keep wondering why I can't get anything done--I'm trying to set up ads on this site and I seem to be having more difficulty than usual fitting in my workouts and I've got various freelance-gig details to attend to, contracts to review and columns to write and blog names to think of--and then I remember: Oh yeah. I spend half my evening SITTING IN THE DARK DOING NOTHING. The other half I devote to bathing and getting ready for bed. Uh, that leaves me pretty much nothing.

What do you all think I deserve when I've successfully trained Genevieve to go to sleep quietly by herself and sleep all the way through the night without crying? 'Cause I think I need the promise of a REWARD.*

[*Edited to add: It goes without saying that I mean a reward OTHER THAN Genevieve going to sleep quietly by herself and sleeping all the way through the night without crying. Because I could enjoy that particular reward even if someone ELSE spent their evenings sitting by her bed. Right?]

At the Breakfast Table

This morning, over breakfast.

Julia, to me, referring to Genevieve: Why is she so mean?
Genevieve (yelling, scowling): 'Cause I WUDE [rude] w'en I wake UP!!!!

Night Five (or: Are You Kidding Me With This? GO TO SLEEP ALREADY.)

I was in the nursery last night doing the bedtime vigil FOR A FULL HOUR. We had let the girls stay up later than usual since they had both taken 2+-hour naps, but before you jump in here and tell me that their naps are interfering with their bedtimes and I need to drop the nap(s), let me tell you that a.) Julia naps every day, anywhere from one to two and a half hours with an intensity that plainly says "GET OUT OF MY WAY, I NEED MY NAP," and goes to bed fine every night at a reasonable hour; b.) Genevieve is utterly unpredictable, refusing to sleep at bedtime after skipping her nap for two straight days but at other times clearly sleepy by evening on a day she's napped for two and a half hours; and c.) the whole time I was in the room last night, Genevieve was yawning as if she'd just worked a 36-hour shift at the hospital.

So anyway.

I was in there until 9 p.m., at which point I scrapped everything I had originally planned to do last evening and went straight to bed. I know; it's a total party over here these days.

The upshot: we remembered to give Genevieve her medicine last night after our failure on Monday, and were rewarded with yet another entire night of sleep with no overnight wakings or crying. I'm sure both girls will have to be woken up again this morning (nursery school today) because they're so conked out from being awake till 9. Then Genevieve will likely skip her nap this afternoon, as she has three of the past four days.

Did I mention that Genevieve is very unpredictable? Since Julia was/is a routine-loving, utterly consistent child (I'm talking post-infancy), this was practically guaranteed, of course, but honestly--would it kill the powers that be to let two siblings be alike in some ways? Particularly the ways involving regimented sleep and never-stray schedules?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Night Four

Last night when I turned off the nursery lamp, Genevieve asked me to sit at the head of her crib, inches from her face, like I did the first night of this little Sleep Intervention. I told her no, I had a nice comfy (ha!) spot in the middle of the rug where I would be just fine, and she said OK. Still, I stayed at about two feet from the bed last night rather than moving farther away. I think with Vivi, the key is to do this gradually.

She fell asleep in 25 minutes. (What's with that, by the way? When I go to bed, I'm out in 15 seconds--it's only later that I lie awake tossing and turning, worrying about bills and my volunteer job--and I'm about one-tenth as active as Genevieve is each day. You'd think she'd close her eyes and conk out immediately, especially on a day she refused to nap, but no.) No crying at bedtime, for the fourth straight night.

However. Sadly, due to the whole family being gone at dinnertime and out late for the kindergarten information meeting last night, Christopher and I forgot to give Genevieve her nighttime dose of her acid-reflux medication. She woke up crying six times last night.So much for any lingering doubt as to whether the Zantac has any real effect on Genevieve's overnight wakings.

Annoyingly, Genevieve now mostly calls for me when she wakes up crying at night, rather than Christopher. If I send him in, she tends to scream in rage that he's not who she wanted. So, for five of the six times last night, I was up with her.

Man, I'm tired today.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Six Days Ago it Was Four Degrees Above Zero

It was 65 degrees outside today. We played hopscotch on the driveway for the first time since October, and Genevieve learned to ride a tricycle. Julia three-wheel-scootered fast and far ahead of Genevieve and me, like the more-than-4-1/2-year-old she is, far better than she was last autumn. At school, Julia's class took an impromptu hike across the street to the marsh.

No one napped much today, and after the long afternoon, the girls ate supper at the house of friends while Christopher and I attended the parent kindergarten information meeting at Julia's future elementary school, and tried very hard to imagine our blonde shortie--the youngest child in her nursery school class--opening her own snacktime milk carton (I recalled a friend, who also sent her summer-birthday baby off to kindergarten at just-barely-five, telling me last October, "She's the youngest one there; I didn't realize she'd be sitting in class with her milk unopened in front of her because she couldn't open the carton by herself!") and riding the school bus alone. But, of course, everyone does.

Oh, and Genevieve said "sandwich" today. Not "nah-mem." Sandwich.

Babyhood is falling away from these girls in big chunks, like time-lapse film footage of growing.

But Geneveive still needs me to sit by her bed in order to fall asleep.

Night Three

It took Genevieve a long time to fall asleep last night. She had taken a two-hour nap in the afternoon (actually I woke her up after two hours), but I don't think that's why. We took a family walk outside in the morning, stopping off at our neighborhood playground, and then Christopher took the girls to a different park in the afternoon, so all in all they got about two hours of active outdoor physical play during the day. Both girls were yawning uncontrollably by bedtime, so I know Genevieve was tired. Still, it took nearly 40 minutes for her to stop yawning, wiggling, and sighing in her crib and actually go to sleep. I spent that time sitting on the floor two or three feet from her crib, inwardly groaning at the time and trying to ignore how hungry and in need of a snack I was. Still, no crying. And, she slept through the entire night with no crying (and is still asleep right now).

I have to admit I'm more than a little concerned about what she will do when I get closer to the door, and more so, when I actually leave the room. (I assume I'll have to sit in the hallway within her sight for awhile.) I hope the crying doesn't resume then.

In other news, tonight is the Parent Kindergarten Meeting at the neighborhood elementary school Julia will attend in September. How is it possible?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Night Two

Last night I moved about a foot away from Genevieve's crib. She didn't seem to notice or care that I was a bit farther away than the first night. She hadn't napped again yesterday, either, but this time rather than staying awake a full half-hour before succumbing to bedtime, she fell asleep in 15 minutes, at about 7:45. She woke up once in the early morning hours calling for her blankets, and then at about 6:15 she called me in to tell me she needed me to sit by her bed. I told her it was now sleeping time for everyone, and we were all in our own beds, which she seemed to accept, but at 6:30 she called again and said she was up for the day. This was an atypically early rising for her--she doesn't normally sleep until 8 a.m. like she did yesterday at the commencement of Operation Get Genevieve to Sleep Without Crying, but she's usually good for 7 or 7:15. However, that's when she's been up screaming till 9 the night before. It's likely that if she gets re-trained to go to sleep at a normal hour without all the hysterics, she'll be ready to wake up earlier than 7 a.m. In my book, that's an acceptable trade-off.

Tonight, two feet from the bed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Refreshed

A full nights' sleep goes a long way in reminding a person just how lovable and cute her babes actually are. Truly, Julia and Genevieve are precious little roses, as all children are. Julia routinely says things like, "Mama, this lunch is delicious; thank you for making it!" and "Isn't it a lovely sunny day?" (even when it's two below outside). She's working hard on being less rigid, and earnestly says, during challenging times, "My snowpants cuffs are bothering me, but I'm going to try to be flexible."

Genevieve calls grapes on the stem "dape [grapes] on the stick." She uses a charming sort of mixed-up polite syntax that goes something like, "May you read me a book?" or "May you please get me a Deen-eck [Kleenex]?" When I told her I was going to sit at her bedside again tonight so she could fall asleep without crying, she said cheerfully, "OK, nank [thank] you for sitting!" She still has a tiny number of hold-over baby words that she refuses to give up, but that sound nothing like the actual words they represent. These are "nah-mem" for sandwich, "bah dubb-ya" for bread and butter, and "wadden" for medicine. I love these words. So does Julia, who often says, "Isn't 'wadden' so cute, Mama?"; and then she'll say, "Oh, Mama, don't you miss 'doga'? I do." She'll sigh like she's the mama.

And many, many weekdays--whether I write it here or not--I think very consciously and deliberately how glad I am to be spending the day with these two little creatures, how grateful I am for the unique at-home-mom experiences I get to share with them: library storytime and morning toddler tumbling class and random Tuesday-morning stroller walks through the neighborhood hunting for damp pinecones and birds' nests.

There is a lot of good amidst the difficult. And every parent knows all about that.

Night One

Last night I sat next to Genevieve's crib, inches from her head, at bedtime. She fell asleep in about 25-30 minutes (I couldn't tell exactly)--no crying or anything like that, just one soft toddler-sing rendition of "This Old Man"--but I waited an extra ten before exiting the room as stealthily as a burglar. I still can't believe it took her half an hour to fall asleep on a day she didn't nap and after a night she'd been up past my own bedtime, but whatever. I decided to use the time to meditate on the words "relax" and "joy." She slept through the night without crying once.

[Edited to add: She ended up sleeping 12 hours, until 8 this a.m.--when I woke her up. By the way, I got TEN HOURS of sleep last night, people. Hallelujah.]

Friday, March 13, 2009

There Isn't Enough Ice Cream in the Entire World to Make Up for an Afternoon Like This

contemplating new ways to torture me

The girls were up until almost 9:30 last night--Genevieve screaming, yelling, and whining, and Julia listening to it. We went to the park and played outside in the wind and sunshine for a full hour this morning. Genevieve still did not nap today.

Aside from the 45 minutes they were watching PBS Kids, the hour we were at the playground with friends, and the minutes they were eating, the rest of the day involved one or the other of them having a tantrum.

Tonight I will probably be spending the evening sitting in the dark by Genevieve's crib rather than sitting on the sofa watching What Not to Wear on TLC. (I am increasingly unwilling to wait another ten days--until after my upcoming evening meeting--to begin this latest experiment to cure the bedtime screaming, because if it goes on for any longer, I fear Christopher is going to abandon the family and I will be left a single mom. Which, you know, if you think I have little patience now, can you just imagine what I would be like if I was doing this ON MY OWN?!)

All of this is to say: NOT A LOT OF FUN GOING ON IN THIS HOUSE RIGHT NOW. Good Lord help me. (And I was planning on keeping Genevieve out of preschool in the fall for another year WHY, EXACTLY? To hasten the losing of my own mind?)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Updates: Vinegar, Bedtime, My Diet Coke Addiction. ETC.

People, I miss my Diet Coke. I gave it up two weeks ago, to save money on the grocery bill, and I swear to you, since then I've been tired, irritable, and have gained five pounds. Seriously! I told you about those five pounds, didn't I? Well, I now blame them on lack of Diet Coke. That and continued disgust at the thought of running ANY MORE MILES in sub-zero windchills, combined with over-consumption of foods that are bad for my body but momentarily soothing to my soul.

Honestly, people, it's not pretty.

But I'm going to be published in a book! So who cares about all that other stuff!

In other news, vinegar is a great, cheap household cleaner. I'm pleased so far. It makes me feel very pioneer-ish. Very noble and eco-responsible, very financially empowered. Because, you know, it's not about the $20,000 of your hard-earned money you've just lost out of your 401K in the past calendar year due to Wall Street greed and ineptitude, it's saving $2.50 on Lysol. The baking soda, though? It doesn't get my kitchen sink as clean as Comet did. And Comet is cheap. But, I like the idea of natural cleaning products, so I'll probably stick with it.

Oh, people, the bedtime screaming. The screaming and screaming and screaming. It makes a person want to poke one's own eye out with a stick. Or anyone else's eye that might be handy. I'm just saying.

I can tell that if this problem is going to be attacked in any calm and/or organized manner (after 11 months! Way to go, proactive parents!), it's going to have to be by me; don't question me--it just is. My plan is to start sitting with Genevieve until she falls asleep at night, right by her crib, within seeing and touching distance. Then, every night thereafter, I'll move slightly farther away from her bed, still sitting until she falls asleep. Over a period of days, I'll gradually move myself right out of the room. Of course, this means I will have to devote my evenings, for awhile, to sitting motionless and silent in a dark room for whatever length of time it takes for the baby to fall asleep. I won't be exercising, bathing, reading, watching TV, writing, or eating ice cream. (Maybe I'll lose those five pounds again!) But it's what needs to be done. However, I'm hesitant to start right away because I have an evening meeting coming up in a week or so, and I'm afraid the process won't be finished by then. I have to be here to do it every night until it's done. Which, you know, is kind of a big fat bummer.

But the book! The essay in the book! Makes EVERYTHING BETTER.

Although I wouldn't turn down a lifetime supply of free Diet Coke, a toddler who sleeps, or a miracle cure for those %$#&@ five pounds.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Big News

A few months ago, I turned some anger, angst, and shock over a failed friendship into a very cathartic 1400-word essay called "The Mommy Wars Killed Our Friendship: Letter to a Former Friend," and sent it to an editor who was soliciting submissions for an anthology to be published in October '09 by Seal Press. The book's working title is Girl Talk: 25 Open Letters to Our Female Friends, and over the weekend I was informed that my essay has been chosen for it.

Here is where you can picture me jumping up and down, screaming with joy.

My entire life, underneath everything else I've ever done, I've dreamed of being a writer. However, in my younger days, I never really verbalized it or even thought about it that much, because I considered published writers to be rare, genius individuals, both lucky and talented beyond comprehension. It wasn't anything I seriously thought a normal person like me could ever be. Still, one of my top-five lifetime dreams has always been to be published in an actual book by a legitimate publishing company, a book that anyone out there could buy at a bookstore or from Amazon.com. Now I am pinching myself in disbelief and euphoria.

When I told my four-year-old my good news, she was thrilled and awed. She said, "You're going to be a REAL AUTHOR?" She knows all about authors, from her nursery school's "Author of the Month" lessons. "Oh, Mama," Julia said. "That is just SO EXCITING."

It occurs to me that my two greatest dreams were to one day be a mother and a writer, and now I am both. There's nothing that can ever take away the thrill of that fact.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Projects (Stay Tuned)

Amidst all the economic hand-wringing, toddler-cry enduring, running and not running, losing and gaining, volunteering, non-sleeping, and fuming over people who bother me, I've been busy this winter with a few things I haven't told you about yet.

Starting this week, I'm the new monthly mind-body columnist for my town's newspaper. Believe it or not, I do have a few things to say about emotional and physical well-being, and it's not all related to my errant metabolism or how my volunteer job once gave me insomnia for four straight months. (Wait, I think that job still gives me insomnia. Well, whatever.) I don't think the newspaper carries this column in its online version, but if it does, I'll put up a link on Wednesday when my inaugural column is printed. If you're a local Wonderland reader, look for my byline in the paper this week.

Also this week, I have a column published in the March/April issue of Girlfriends, a regional women-centered magazine in the southern MN area. I'm writing there about the eternal search for balance between mothering and me-time. Pick up a copy around town and look for my essay if you can, or check back here for a link later this week.

I've got a brand-new freelance gig starting in a few weeks too, writing a newsletter column and a women's wellness blog for a new women's website, about which I'll tell you more when the project launches. Stay tuned!

But the best, most exciting development of all I'll tell you about TOMORROW. So check back here soon for my big news. I am pinching myself.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Seriously Considering Moving Closer to Grandparents to Pawn Her Off on Them Occasionally.

She's cute, though, isn't she? And doesn't she look like such a big kid in this picture?
Not at all like a two-year-old baby who can't yet sleep through the night?



Genevieve continues her bedtime rebellion screaming fits just about every night. Lately, she's begun waking up and crying anywhere from 5-10 times per night again. Those overnight wakings had improved in recent months due, we thought, to her new acid reflux medication, but in the past week they've recurred again on a fairly regular basis. Perhaps she needs an increase in her dosage; she HAS grown this winter. But she also dreams a lot, apparently, and yells/talks/cries out in her sleep a LOT--like, several times a night, even when she's not actually crying or calling for one of us to come in and help her with something. At any rate, hours of screaming + multiple sleep interruptions every night + putting up with the tantrums that go along with tired toddlers = complete and utter hell. Keep in mind that the bedtime crying has been going on now for 11 months. Also keep in mind that any parenting strategy you can think of to eliminate this behavior, we've already tried.

Unassailable truth: a year of constant sleep disruption and deprivation makes a person less able to cope cheerfully and resiliently with the slings and arrows of life. And I'm not talking about the toddler, although surely it's true for her, too.

Friday, March 06, 2009

I've Had It With Vexations to the Spirit

This is one of my most favorite writings of all time; I have a copy of it framed at the bottom of the stairs in my house. There is something supremely comforting about the part that goes, "And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be." Isn't that nice? I mean, who can't get behind an idea like that? For the record, I also like how Mr. Ehrmann calls it like he sees it, what with the part about stoically putting up with the "dull and the ignorant," and those who are "vexations to the spirit." I won't go into it here, but I've had my fair share of vexations to the spirit in the past week, and, well--I'm sick of those people! Oh, wait--I think the poem is supposed to be more about calm acceptance, not mood swings and revenge fantasies. There's that tricky part at the end about striving to be cheerful. Dang! Sorry.

Anyway, enjoy:

Desiderata
by Max Ehrmann, ca. 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe; no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Forgive Me if I Still Think of Her as a Baby, Since She Still DOES NOT SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT.


Yesterday, after noticing that Julia's pants were too short, I went through the girls' drawers and culled all the too-small items. Then I went through our bins of hand-me-downs to see what larger sizes I could use to refill their dressers. I ended up putting out a bunch of size 3T items for Genevieve, which really floored me. I was all, 3T? That's crazy! As I exclaimed skeptically to a friend of mine, how can 3T be right for Genevieve? I mean, she was in 2T previously, a size that connotes chubby round toddlerness, still in diapers and highchairs and cribs; whereas 3T suggests a certain post-baby, nearly three, preschool-age, kid-ness.

Which made me pause and go, Um, right.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Being A Stay-At-Home Mom in a Get-to-Work World

All this talk of economic difficulties and cash-strapped households has really got me thinking. In reading my friend Mnmom's recent post about her all-American family's slide from typical middle class into financial crisis (it's a must-read, by the way--a perfect example of all that is going wrong for the middle class in this country today), and in considering the comments to my own post the other day about my family's current money worries, it occurred to me that sometimes there's very little one can do about certain situations. Or, rather, one can do a whole heck of a lot, and still have problems.

Because, in all honesty, there isn't much fat for Christopher and me to cut out of our family budget, now that he's lost his second job. We live frugally, as I've written about before (to mild controversy). We do without many small luxuries that plenty of families consider the norm (second car, most electronics, eating at restaurants, take-out dinners, vacations, movies, babysitters, unattached housing, occasional manicures, new toys on any other occasion besides birthdays or Christmas, most new clothes).

Sure, there are always places we could still cut back: we could give up our basic cable, but we only subscribe because, due to where our house is situated, without it we don't get ANY television channels at all--not even PBS. I could give up my admittedly somewhat extravagant four-times-yearly hair appointments at the salon I frequented before I had children (but which are one of the few things that make me feel pretty as a harried, busy, full-time mom). I could stop running, since as any avid runner will tell you, good running shoes cost $80-100 a pair, and because I have arthritis, I have to replace mine twice a year without fail. But running keeps me healthy and sane, and is one of my greatest joys. Christopher could give up his hobby of participating in skiing and running races (all of which have an entry fee). But honestly? Most of us can't cut out every single penny of discretionary spending to get by and still have a life that feels worth living. Could you?

So what it comes down to, it seems to me, is this: I am a stay-at-home mom in a family that--for a variety of idiosyncratic reasons relating to our educational histories (two Ph.D.s = massive student loan payments), professional/career choices (fields that require Ph.D.s do not pay well: who knew?), and, in Christopher's case, an expensive hearing-loss condition--can't really afford to have a stay-at-home mom. We're a family with values that include parent-care for our children, but we can't truly afford that value. (Or, maybe I should say, we can't afford that value without a lot of struggle and stress, and an acceptance of insecure finances.)

But how can you put a price on a deeply-held value?

What do you all think, fellow at-home moms? Do you sacrifice to stay home with your children? Have you had to give up that dream in order to earn money for your family?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

You Need an Advanced Degree to Own a King-Sized Bed

At nine this morning, I realized that I'd been up for 2-1/2 hours and had basically been changing the sheets that entire time. OK, I exaggerate a bit, but I have this ongoing struggle with our newish king-sized bed. It takes me an inordinate amount of time to change the sheets on it, because I can never figure out which direction the clean sheets are supposed to go. Does anyone else have this problem? See, the thing is, king-sized mattresses are almost square. There's no obvious orientation to the fitted sheets, because the sides are so similar in length. It doesn't help that our all-cotton king-sized sheets have shrunk a bit in the wash as well, so neither direction fits with complete ease. I end up putting the fitted sheet on one way, looking at it with puzzlement and noting the odd stretching and pulling, and thinking, Oops, nope, that's not right. Turn it around. Then I take it off, rotate the corners a quarter-turn, and try it again. Only to bite my lip and furrow my brow at the resulting strained and puckered sheet seams, and think, What? Guess that's not right after all! Must be the first way. So then I start all over again with the sheet the way it was before. THIS CAN GO ON FOR HOURS.

And you wondered what stay-at-home moms do all day.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Apparently My Metabolism Just Turned 38 As Well

The other day I latched onto an irrational fear that I'm pregnant, due to the fact that I've gained five pounds in recent weeks. You know, because miracle-pregnancy is a much more likely explanation than EATING TOO MUCH ICE CREAM WHILE SKIPPING TOO MANY WORKOUTS. Ahem.

It's just that, as a thirtysomething adult, I've really gotten away with murder when it comes to my metabolism. All the childbearing, breastfeeding, and running combined to give me license to eat pretty much anything I wanted, in pretty much any desired amounts, with few if any consequences. (Strangely, this biological lottery-win was not always the case for me. In my twenties, I could gain weight easily if I wasn't careful.) So I haven't really been in the habit of watching what I eat, despite the fact that my doctor mentioned awhile back that, as I near 40 and beyond, things would likely change. (Damn you, medical expert!) Also, although it varies, I'm more of a stress eater than a stress starver. When I'm nervous, I snack, not lose my appetite completely. And, if you hadn't picked up on it by now, I've been a little anxious lately. Plus, I'm so over winter running. The fleece, the hats, the cheekbone frostbite. Ugh! Sick of it. So much nicer to stay home and sit on the couch in my pj's eating, uh, anything and everything. All of which MIGHT be responsible for my winter weight gain. (I know, I know: I lost weight at first, when I gave up evening snacking. Then I faced my household's finances, had a mini-breakdown, and dove into a bag of M&Ms.)

But I'll let you know if it turns out I'm pregnant.

What I Said Before? Forget It.

Remember how last night I said being home alone with the children while my husband is on a business trip isn't so hard? Um, never mind. I don't know what I was thinking. Two- and four-year-olds are freaking TIRING! I'm exhausted! By lunchtime today I had mostly stopped speaking in order to conserve energy necessary for things like putting a meal on the table, and Julia responded by gazing at me skeptically and saying, "I guess taking care of two kids is hard." (You think?)

And now NO ONE IS NAPPING! I'm exhausted, people! They didn't sleep until nine o'clock last night! I've been dusting, doing laundry, supervising drag-out screaming fights over baby dolls and sleeping bags, making homemade pizza dough, playing in the snow, to- and fro-ing to nursery school and toddler class, cooking, feeding the cat, paying bills, setting up art projects, taking phone calls, making beds, changing diapers, wiping bottoms, and playing "birthday party" with them for two days straight, and I can't even get one measly hour of nap today in order to, I don't know, rest?

OK, it's still easier than when they were one and three, but....that's not to say it's easy.

Did I mention that I have recently GIVEN UP DIET COKE in an effort to save on groceries? What am I, a total masochist?

We Go Through Way Too Much Bread in This House

How is it possible that the adults in my house went to two grocery stores in two days and we're STILL running out of bread? Does anyone else do this? Forget at least one staple grocery item every single time you go to the store, despite the regular use of a list? What's that all about, anyway? Parenting-related dementia?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Evolution

I'm currently solo-parenting while Christopher is in DC on a business trip. I think the fact that I hadn't even MENTIONED this fact to you, oh Internet, before now, says a lot about how things have changed since one year ago when Christopher attended this same conference.

I will say just this: being the only parent on-duty for a few days with two children ages two and four is much easier than being the only parent on-duty for a few days with two children ages one and three. I mean, think about it: last year at this time Genevieve was still nursing. It was not guaranteed safe or feasible to leave the girls unattended and playing by themselves while I bathed. Baby gates were still necessary. No one could reach the sink by themselves.

Life now is vastly different. Of course, last year I was also extremely sick when Christopher was gone for this conference--necessitating all sorts of nightmarish endeavors like three clinic appointments and a weekend call to a doctor friend--a VACATIONING doctor friend--to get desperation pharmaceuticals. It all ended, eventually, with an ER visit after a bad tetanus-shot reaction due to the antibiotics I was taking at the time. GAH! I know: terrible. But it's not just that I'm healthy this time. The girls are easier. They are getting older; life is getting incrementally easier.

However. Now that I've said all that, I will also say this: it is nearly 8:30 p.m. and no one is asleep yet, and I am ingesting my weight in chocolate ice cream. I have been into the nursery three times to talk to Genevieve about her ridiculous singing, calling, and whining. All I want is a moment of peace, but there's no one else here to answer her calls. We've got to do it all again tomorrow. But we'll make it. We're all a little bit older; we're a little more capable. We could stand to be slightly better sleepers, though.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Vinegar Chronicles

OK, so I am dorkily excited to begin cleaning with vinegar rather than expensive household cleaners. Have you been following my personal enlightenment, via my helpful readers, regarding the use of vinegar as an economical household cleaning product? Today at the grocery store Christopher bought a giant jug of white vinegar for $1.97. This is substantially cheaper than the bottles of Lysol I usually buy, and will go much farther as well. Christopher also bought a couple of plastic spray bottles, which I filled half-and-half with vinegar and water, so--I'm all set. (He bought extra baking soda, too, for scouring.) Do you know how thrilled I am to embark upon a far less expensive cleaning regimen than my previous use of various sprays, powders, and foams? A little too excited, possibly. (Are you starting to think I've been a housewife too long?) Of course, I'll keep all of you posted on the final analysis of vinegar as cleaning solution. I'm sure you'll be holding your breath.

But, of course, the substitution of white vinegar for Lysol is not a sufficient money-saving move to make up for $900 less in monthly income. Which is why I'm going to write a best-selling book about adventures in and survival strategies for happy stay-at-home-momhood. You'd read it, right?