Friday, August 27, 2010

Oh, I did it!

Every time Matt leaves for a work trip I freak out a little bit. I used to freak out a lot, like A LOT--hand me my valium!, a lot. But now, only just a little. This time he was gone for six days. And you know what? We survived just fine. It gets a little easier every time. You know what made this time super amazing and awesome?

I hired a babysitter.

People, in the last 4+ years that Matt has travelled for work, I have never straight up hired a babysitter to help. There was the short stint when Eloise was about 8 months old (and Iris was almost three) that I had semi-competent mother's "helpers" come, but that was it. This time I had three hours on three different days of glorious me-time. I went swimming and did errands. I washed the car. I drank coffee and edited my novel.

I'm getting pretty decent at this. And so are the girls. We fall in to a routine and for the most part we do okay. Still learning about what kinds of activities are best for the three of us, and it does seem that busier is better, but it's sooooo much easier than it used to be. Thank god for that. Pretty soon Matt is going to be gone for the better half of a whole month, ohmahgah, but I'll be ready. Plus my girls will be back in school, so there's that!

It's funny, the number one thing I am scared of when I think about starting homeschooling is what the heck will I do when Matt is gone. And you know what I figured out? I'll hire a babysitter. It's that easy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another new blog? But of course!

I've started another blog. This new one will be strictly focused on my writing, so I can leave all of that off of here.

If you're interested, here it is, brand spankin' new!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just keep swimming . . .

Yep, this swimming thing. It's really working out. The pool I swim at has the perfect lap swim hours and it's never busy. Besides the cost, it's a pretty decent set-up.

The pool is 25 yards long. I swim 40 minutes and can do the breast stroke in 30-40 seconds per length (depending on how lazy I'm feeling). This means I'm swimming anywhere from 60 to 80 laps every time I go, but based on my speed, I'm going to say I swim closer to 70 laps per visit. This works out well for the part of me that is a bit OCD, because a swimmer would have to make 70.4 laps of the pool to swim a mile. So now when people ask how far I swim, I'll say "a mile".

One of the most difficult things for me is being in a solitary, quiet space for even such a short amount of time. I do spend it thinking great thoughts, mostly about ideas for my novel, but sadly, I lose them as soon as I'm done. I guess it would be sort of weird to keep writing down my ideas at the end of each lap, huh?

I've wanted to get a waterproof case for my ipod so I can swim with music, but I'm a bit hesitant. First there is the cost involved, and second, there's the whole issue of submerging my ipod underwater. That just seems wrong. I bet if I had music I could swim even longer, though. Hmmm.

If you've been looking for a more effective work-out, or even to just start working out in the first place, I can't recommend swimming enough. I can barely run for five minutes, but I can swim for 40 without feeling exhausted. And it WORKS. It is a total body work-out. The other bonus? No sweating! I HATE sweating. Hate. Did I say I hate it? If I have to break a sweat while doing something, there's a 99% chance I'll never want to do it again.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy Anniversary Babe!

Today is my anniversary. Two whole years of wedded bliss. That's like 14 in Hollywood years, right?

Those of you doing the math at home know we had two children before we married. And probably deduced that we lived together for a while, too. It's true. We do things backwards around here.

Matt and I went on a really fun date Saturday night to celebrate, thanks to his sister babysitting for us. Hooray! We ate a decadent gluten-free and vegetarian dinner at Cafe Flora (seriously, go check out their menu!) and then off to Cinerama to see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. A cute, but long, movie and an amazing theatre. If you live in Seattle and haven't been to Cinerama, well, run real quick to see Scott Pilgrim before the end of the month or you'll have to wait until November after they've renovated a few things.

The one thing Matt and I noticed that the past two years have been by far the easiest of our entire relationship. We like easier. Easier suits us well. Some would call it boring, but shhhhh. Boring is okay, too.

I love Matt to pieces. He has supported every single hair-brained idea I have ever had. Enthusiastically, in fact.

When I told him I was going to write a novel, he was thrilled. He has read every draft I have ever put in front of him, expertly editing when I ask and offering praise and constructive criticism along the way.

When I told him I wanted to look in to home schooling Iris he listened carefully, asked lots of questions and stood behind all of my reasons for doing so.

When I did my elimination diet and eventually went gluten-free he carefully prepared food for me, helped choose restaurants I could eat at and supported the difficult dietary demands.

He has always 100% stood behind my desire to stay home with the girls. Of course, he appreciates the work load I take off of him in doing so, but if I wanted to go back to work, he would support that, too. He would dutifully take on even more chores, cooking duties and childcare after working stressful 12 hour days.

I can tell you for sure my husband doesn't know how much I appreciate how hard he works for our family. Because there aren't enough words to express it. It's so hard on him to be travelling and spending long days at the office, but he does it all for us.

I love you babe. Thank you for being my partner(officially) for the last two years. I'm looking forward to the rest of our lives! Let's work on having more fun dates like Saturday, okay?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My blogiversary

Oh man, I can't believe I missed my five year blogiversary! It was the beginning of August in 2005 when I started this here blog. It has gone through three different names, the first of which was "Adventures of an AP Mama". I grew to hate the title, thinking I needed to buck the whole "AP" title, so I looked for something new. My sweet friend Kim suggested the name "Weezie Doo and Icey, too!" which I simply adored. At the time, those were the nicknames of my daughters. In fact, I loved the name so much, Matt and I took it and used it for a (short-lived) blog we co-authored and I re-named this blog what it is today. The only reason I decided not to take the name back when that other blog fizzled was because those nicknames faded out of preference.

Not surprisingly, I want to change the title again. Despite the fact that it never seemed like I would never, ever, not be nursing ever again, here I am. Almost a year out of weaning my last baby. I am no longer an active "milk maker". But that isn't the point of this post.

The point of this post is to pat myself on the back and say "Job well done! You stuck with it!" This blog has been nothing else but my place to brain dump. I've learned along the way to be veeeery careful what information I put on here, but overall, it still lives to serve that purpose. Mostly the brain dumps come in the form of some information about my girls or being a mother, but not always. I've sobbed about the deaths of pets. Fretted over rough transitions in my relationship. Spilled my excitement and exhaustion over getting married. Shared the nervous anticipation of buying a house and the joy and pain of moving.

In the time that I have started this blog I have watched other blogs sprout up that have become insanely popular, gathering hundreds of followers and have become quite the spring board for many adventures for their authors. I won't lie and say I'm not jealous, because a tiny part of me is. A tiny bit. But mostly, I just keep chugging along. I have no idea who reads most of the time, unless I get comments. The comments are few and far between-- and that's okay!-- but it sort of just helps me stay in my little bloggy bubble. I know some of you have been reading almost since this blog's inception. For that, I deeply thank you. I've met some incredibly amazing mamas, online and in real life, because of this blog.

I do wonder how long I will keep writing here. I feel at some point I won't want to be spewing stories and pictures publicly about my girls if they don't want me to. Already Iris grimaces at me if I tell her I posted something about her on Facebook or here. I do know that if/when I shut the blog down, I'll get a printed copy of it. There's a lot of random stuff here, but it's a pretty damn good of my and my girls' lives for the past few years. Hopefully there are some gems in here somewhere that my girls will want access to some day. Who knows?

Monday, August 16, 2010

My baby is four.

Well, not technically. Eloise Pearl with be four years old officially at 10:17 pm on August 17th. My beautiful little baby born right in to the arms of my midwife in my bedroom. I'll never forget how terrifying and strengthening her birth was. If I could do that, I could do anything.

Eloise less than 24 hours old.

When Eloise was an infant, I constantly thought about how easy she was. How nice it was that she slept so much. That she didn't need as much as her big sister did. That she was going to be my ideal little second child. But then she found her voice, and her personality came busting right out. Eloise is many amazing things, but the words "easy" and "laid back" don't really fit her.

Eloise on her first birthday.

I was at a party recently and was chatting with another mother I had just met. When she asked me which children were mine, I pointed out Iris and Eloise. Her eyes grew large and a smile spread across her face. "Eloise," she said "has so much energy and joy!" She described, to a "T" the essence of Eloise. She radiates exuberance to the very ends of her crazy curls.

As I relayed the story of this conversation to a close friend of mine, my friend began to compliment me for my part in Eloise turning out to be such a charming, sweet, hysterical, joyful little girl. I turned to her and said that I didn't think it had anything to do with me. All I could take credit for is staying out of her way and letting her do her thing. She is about as opposite from me as you could get. If I hadn't given birth to that little girl I would swear she isn't even related to me. She has more passion and zest in her little pinkie finger than I do in my whole body.

Eloise on her second birthday.

I adore Eloise to pieces. She brings so much laughter to our family. So much comic relief. Matt, Iris and I would be three very serious and boring individuals without Eloise in our lives. I can't wait to see who she grows up to be. I joke that she's going to be famous some day, and relaying stories in interviews about how she was "singing and dancing since I was three!" Because she has. If Eloise has an audience, she is perfectly at home.

Eloise on her third birthday.

So now my baby is four. I want to soak in every day of her. I want to spend the rest of my life learning from her.

Making progress!

So remember that exercise log I put up a while back? And tearing it down a month and a half later because it just wasn't working? Despite the exercise I was doing and the way I was eating, I wasn't losing weight.

The past few weeks I have been swimming two-three times a week and still maintaining a reasonably careful diet-- not eating after dinner. Not over-eating. Very few sweets. Very few snacks that weren't fruits or vegetables. I eat so many less carbs now that I don't eat gluten. I have been feeling in my body like the new efforts were working, but wanted to see some proof.

Being as that we don't own a scale, I needed to set up the Wii Fit to check my weight. Imagine my surprise when this morning the Wii Fit told me I weight 12 lbs less than the last time I checked in and that my BMI had dropped over a full point! Of course, the machine was quick to remind me I'm not at my goal of a BMI of 22. It has probably been about three or so months since I last weighed myself with Wii Fit.

Finally, finally!, I've found the thing that works for me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I love this summer's reading program

This past summer my daughters logged many of the books they read for two separate reading programs. One was through the Barnes and Noble summer reading program and one was through the Seattle Public Library program. Each had a handful of books to read and record on a list and when the list was filled they each got a free book. So for doing nothing at all different than what we usually do, which is read a ton of books, we added four new books to our collection. And they were good books. Brand new books.

SPL had a huge assortment that included some of our favorites like Magic Tree House and Magic Rainbow books. There was everything from board books for littles up to adult novels in the bin at the library. The library put the kids' names on the wall, as well, which the girls got a kick out of.

Barnes and Noble had a specific list of books to choose from. Despite advertising that the program is for 1st-6th graders the employee there told us that Eloise could participate too.

In both cases we just got a form to fill in the books we read and then turned them in and got our free books. No questions asked, no hassle. In fact, the biggest hassle was remembering to record our read books!

I know that the idea of reading to win a prize can be a turn-off for some parents, but for us it didn't work like that at all. The girls were told at one point that if we filled in the list they would get a free book at the end, but it was never a motivation. When we finished a book the girls never asked me to put it on the list. They seemed to not care at all about the whole process, actually, until it came time to pick their free books. We read gobs and gobs of books anyways, without any promise of a prize. Getting the free books was just the icing on the cakes. I will always, always take free books for my girls! The more the merrier, right?

Certainly I consider myself lucky that I have natural, eager readers. If they weren't, however, I'm not sure if I would feel that different about coaxing them to read with the promise of a prize at the end. My hunch says, if that prize was a free book, I would be okay with that. I wouldn't coax them with candy or toys, but a chance to just read more? That sounds allright by me.

Iris just finished solo-reading her first ever chapter book. It was a Junie B. Jones book, a series we adore (and find a lot of at Goodwill, by the way!). It seems like just yesterday she was struggling through very basic reading and she quickly blossomed in to a chapter book reader.

Like I said, the more books the better. Bring 'em on!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

But what about the socialization?

It's the age-old question, right? How do home-schooled kids get the socialization that they need? In all honesty, this is probably my number one worry about home-schooling Iris. This past year at her (amazing) school, it was ALL about figuring out how to navigate friendships. Of course, she learned an incredible amount of other stuff, but the under-current of her day-to-day was how the group worked and how she fit in to it. How to manage friendships. How to work it out when another friend wanted to join in to your play. How to go with your own ideas instead of following someone else. The list goes on. The past year was Iris's year to really sort a lot of that out. In fact, my one and only complaint about Iris's school is that her class size is so small that it didn't provide as much of those social experiences as I would have liked. There was a pretty small pool of friends for her to choose from. A pool of friends she has struggled with and found a lot of joy with.

And now here I sit contemplating home-schooling. While it wouldn't mean that Iris would never see any other children her own age, she would absolutely not get the experience of working on how to navigate deeper day-to-day relationships with other kids. Yes, we can go to play dates. And a whole slew of activities, but it's different than being with the same peer group on a daily basis.

So, my dear friends who home-school, what say you? What is your opinion on socializing home-schoolers when it comes to forming deeper relationships between kids?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Well, lookie!

Thanks to the unanimous feedback I received, I switched over to Google reader. Guess being stuck in my ways doesn't always work so well, huh?

I filled up my reader with all of my current favorite blogs and a few of the ones I could remember that I wanted to follow but wasn't able to. Slowly but surely I will update my reader with all of the other blogs I have been wanting to follow!

In addition, I was able to use Google reader to update my blog list over on the side bar. This is a list of all of the blogs I have in my reader. It is sorted by the most recently updated but I might change that. If your blog isn't over there, please let me know so I can start following you!

Thanks again for the awesome feedback ya'll!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

What I'm up to

So, so very much to say.

  • I took down my exercise log. It hadn't been updated in a while, not since I discovered it wasn't working for me. Usually tracking my progress works really well to meet a goal, but not this time. I am now swimming twice a week and hope to bump that up to three or four times.
  • In it's place I added a quote that a friend posted on FB. It really struck a chord with me. Another thought that resonated with me was because of a conversation with a new friend. We discussed how amazingly different children from the same two biological parents with the exact same upbringing can be; case in point, Iris and Eloise. Not only do I want to be the mother to my girls that they need, but the mother that EACH of them needs, in their own way.
  • Last night was Seattle's Night Out, where each block could host a block party across the city. I organized the first our street has had in at least a decade. People weren't quite sure when the last one was. It caused me a huge amount of anxiety, but I knew it was important to do. Despite only about 25% of our neighbors coming out, it was so very much fun. I am glad we did it and look forward to next year. Matt keeps saying I'm a community organizer, but I say I'm not. I only force myself to be because no one else is doing what I want to see done. See the difference? Kinda blurry, I guess
  • Last week our family went to Yakima for three nights. It was the most fun trip we have ever taken there. Yakima is where Matt's parents live, so we go over quite often. I met an old friend of Matt's, re-connected with two others, held a tiny five pound baby, watched my children swim and cannonball and laugh, marvelled over a freak hail storm, napped, slurped on Hawaiian shaved ice, worked on editing my novel, ate yummy food, went on a date to see Eclipse with my husband. Pretty much every awesome thing that ever was happened on that trip.
  • I have begun working on my novel again, with earnest trepidation, if there is such a thing. I put it down for a very long time, but always keeping it in the back of my mind. I printed off the first 100 pages and curled up wherever I could and made my edits in pencil all over the pages. It was both exhilarating and dis-heartening. There were many edits and many places that I need to re-write. But also? It remains an amazing story. And there were some really beautiful parts in it that I was proud of. I'm no Stephenie Meyer, but I am getting this teenage angst thing down, I think.
  • Speaking of Stephenie Meyer, I have a review of Twilight Saga: Eclipse that I'm working on. Matt asked if he could post it on his site, NadaMucho. I also recently learned about the leaked manuscript for Midnight Sun, which is the telling of the Twilight story from Edward's point of view. I am almost done reading it (she posted it on her website) and wow, that woman can describe the hell out of the most mundane things. While an incredible talent, I did find some parts of the story daunting to wade through. I just wanted to ask, can't the character simply walk across the room for chrissakes? Why is it always a production? Anyways, I am still a huge fan. I doubt Stephenie ever used the word "huge" to describe a single thing in any of the eighty bajillion pages in any of her novels.
  • Eloise's behavior has been, um, interesting, the past week or so. Much more clingy and grumpy and sleepy. I wonder if it's part of almost turning four. I have heard several times about how much transition children are in around their birthdays, so I do wonder if it's that. We're throwing a big bash in the park for her birthday, which should be fun. Yet another party to plan! I also came up with the idea of hosting a potluck for all of the new families in Iris's class. Trying to pawn most of that job off on someone else, though. Maybe that's the secret behind being someone who organizes other people. Delegate!
  • One last thing: I am often frighteningly behind in catching up with my favorite blogs, but have run up against a new problem. I read blogs through Bloglines, which is a feed reader. Lately many of the blogs I want to follow say that they don't provide a feed. It is incredibly frustrating because I know I will never remember to physically go to each of those blogs and read them. I rarely even click through in Bloglines to read a post on it's original site. Am I missing something? Is there a better feed reader I should be using?