Monday, April 30, 2007

At the beach

Just a day at the beach. Had to take advantage of a weekday with no rain!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

All in the name of beauty

I'm not very good with the whole girly beauty regimen thing. I'm just not versed in the intricacies of various layers of make up, etc. This includes having some of the world's least feminine eyebrows you've ever seen. I pluck here and there, but they're really pretty unruly. Okay, not nasty-old-man unruly, with out-of-control, 3-inch long hairs going every which way, but they aren't girly brows. I covet natural-looking girly brows.

Last spring I went to a Mom's Weekend in Vegas with some of my old friends from CA. A friend and I decided to book appointments for eyebrow waxing at the Spa at Bally's where we were staying. The process didn't involve too much pain. I know it involved hot wax, and some kind of twisting thing that rips the hairs out, and some trimming with scissors. My eyes were closed the whole time, so I really don't know what all went on, but I had a rough idea.

Well that was a whole year ago, ya know? And I was overdue to whip these puppies into shape. I bought myself some wax strips, plucked, trimmed, and then ripped out all the hair that seemed to be growing in the wrong place. I think they're kind of uneven now, but if I tip my head to the side slightly, I'm sure no one will be the wiser (lol, except for all of you reading this blog).

Now I seem to have completely forgotten about the side effect to the waxing I had done in Vegas: inflamed, bright red skin where the wax had been. Yesterday was no different, and all the moisturizer and ice cubes in the world weren't going to make the red halos, over my now carefully manicured brows, go away anytime soon. So last night I went to bookclub with flaming pink skin across my upper brow. I had mostly forgotten about it until I came home and looked in the mirror, only to find that it was redder and more obvious than it had been earlier in the day. And this is better than my regular eyebrows??? Why do we do this to ourselves? Ugh. LOL - but the thing is, I'm sure this won't be the last time, either!

Friday, April 27, 2007


I was laying in bed this morning with my two kidlets, and I was thinking just how perfectly they fit on either side of me, all snuggled up with a head on each shoulder. I'd already been up for a couple of hours, and was gathering up a load of towels to wash from the pile in my room. N. was still snoozing in our bed, and A. was downstairs watching Curious George. I started the washing machine, and decided to head back up to crawl into bed next to my girl.

She had a hard time falling asleep last night, and had really pushed mommy right up to the edge - angry words were said sometime around her fifth time out of bed (and Grey's was on!), but all my irritation at having a nearly 8 yr. old who gets "lonely" and can't fall asleep on her own simply melted away when I saw her sleeping so soundly under the covers. She woke up shortly after I got there, and laid her head down on my arm. Since she was a tiny baby, I've always thought that was the best - being there when they wake up, seeing that smile spread across their face at seeing you there next to them. A. has never really wanted anything to do with anybody else at night, and sleeps blissfully through the night without our assistance, but his big sis has always craved the presence of someone else around. She immediately told me about the great dream she'd been having, and how she wished she could figure out how to fall back to sleep and keep dreaming good dreams. Then she started picking at my neck mole - which is somehow far less endearing, LOL!

A. rolled on into the room and took up his spot on the other side of me, and it was in that moment I found Mommy Heaven. Two warm little bodies, with soft, smooth cheeks, snuffly noses, and, in that instant, both adoring their Momma. I know those moments will become few and further between in the years to come. I have to remember that, so that I can slow time in those brief moments and try to capture every sound, smell, and touch. Someday we won't need to make extra room for Spotsy and Blue Pup in the bed. Someday my girl won't need me to tuck her in at night, or wander into our room, and quietly climb into bed with Mommy and Daddy, so subtly that we don't even know that she's there. Someday they'll both be bigger than me, and will have More Important Things To Do than snuggle with old Mom. For now I'll treasure these perfect moments in time, and let them carry me through. Perfection.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Who, exactly, is evil?

Remember I said I was going to switch A. over to a gluten-free diet? Well yesterday was the big shopping day to aquire all the things I would need to make that happen. I'd already purchased a book by the Gluten-Free Gourmet, and had a list of the different flours, etc. I needed to find, plus all the other grocery items we needed. We went to Whole Foods, which I don't usually frequent because they're a little farther away then I like (plus there are at least 8 other grocery stores closer to me), but I knew they'd be sure to have most of what I needed. Of course, going to a store you're not familiar with means that it's going to take forever. To top that off, A. fell asleep in the car on the way over, so I had to wake him in order to go in and shop.

At some point in the day I had mentioned getting a cookie at the grocery store. About 30 minutes into our shopping, A. starts saying, in this creepy, monsterous voice "I want a cookie NOW!" It became a loud chant before I finally decided I had to say something about it, but it was getting a little embarassing. Still, every once in a while he'd pipe in with that scary sounding voice "I want a cookie NOW!". Funny, but somehow mothers have an ability to tune that kind of stuff out after awhile. Shortly there after I realized that the chant had changed to "Evil Mommy! Evil Mommy!" Geez, this kid was on a roll this afternoon! Honestly, he's usually not like this, which is fortunate for both of us. The highlight was when some poor, unsuspecting mother, with three delightful, quiet, young children, one of which who was just a sweet, innocent little baby, turned down our aisle. "EVIL BABY!! EVIL BABY!!" shouts my spawn in that creepy, satan voice while pointing at that angelic little soul. He is definitely overstaying his welcome, and it was high time for us to be going. *I* was ready to be out of there, or at the very least was about to hide myself behind the nearest organic nuts display.

Happily, the shopping trip was worth it because last night I whipped out some of the most awesome bread that's ever come out of my breadmachine. A. even ate it this morning. He's never eaten any of my homemade bread. Had he not eaten it, I'm sure I'd be starting up a chant of my own right about now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm not going crazy!

Last week I started losing towels. One day it was the husband's towel in the upstairs bathroom (and he had the audacity to use MY towel instead - I HATE being stuck with a wet, pre-used towel!), the next day a towel from downstairs was missing, the next day another one from downstairs plus one from upstairs. By the next morning, I was really going a little loony. I couldn't figure out where the towels were ending up. They weren't in the dirty clothes, or in the dryer, or being used as a fort by the kids. They had disappeared. *poof*

So I was in the kitchen talking to A. who was out in the living room, and I was discussing the towel shenanigans that seemed to be going on. I asked if he was in on the shenanigans, to which he replied...


"The towels that are missing. Do you know anything about that?"


"Hmmmm. Do you think N. knows anything about it?" (She was still sleeping).

"Mm mm mmm." (translated: "I don't know")

"I'll have to ask her when she wakes up."

So when she did wake up, I related the story of the missing towels, and how brother seemed to not know anything about it, and did she maybe know. She exclaimed that she knew exactly who had taken my towels, and ran into her room to bring out... a storybook. In it was a story that her daddy had read to her the night before about an Invisible Imp that played tricks on people. While it seemed as if there were likely an imp amongst us, I was fairly certain it wasn't invisible. But I still had no towels.

By the kids' bedtime that night, I was at the end of my rope. I finally demanded that if anyone knew anything about the missing towels, they really needed to speak up or we'd all have to start drying ourselves with washcloths. A. hopped off the bed, ran over to the husband's closet, and swung open the door to reveal a pile of towels deep in the dark depths within. Mind you, A. was laughing hysterically, and I finally figured out I'd been duped by my 4 year old. And the husband thinks anything that sends the wifey over the edge is pretty darn funny, too.

As parents, we were struck by two simultaneous reactions to this. One being a tiny bit of pride in this prank pulled off by our clown of a 4 year old. The fact that he chose something that I'd notice was missing, hid it in a place I'd never look, and that he'd chosen something that wasn't in danger of causing mom to completely go ballistic (like if he'd hidden all the shoes in the house as we're late heading out the door). To all that we say "Bravo!". Yet at the same time, there's the fact that he didn't break under interogation. Granted, it wasn't a bright-light-in-the-face type of interrogation, but still. He had me going for days on end, and I was clueless that my sweet little Imp had anything to do with it. We are so in for trouble in the years to come! So, the good news is that I'm not going crazy... yet.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rites of Passage

I went to this great talk last night. It was put on by an organization called Journeys that's based up here in Bothell. The discussion centered around the lack of meaningful or productive rites of passage in our culture - specifically the need for a symbollic rite for teens.

Other cultures, all over the world, create ceremony to acknowledge the movement of an individual out of childhood and into adulthood. This usually involves the removal of the young person from their family for a period of time, often for as long as a year. This time allows the youth to go off with mentors from their community, and to break some of the comfortable ties that bind us to our child-parent roles. It also gives the parents time to mourn/celebrate the loss of their child so that they can welcome the adult that will return in their place. In some cultures, the body of the child will be permanently scarred in some way as a visual reminder to everyone that that child no longer exists.

We lack these rites of passage. Some religions have ways of acknowledging the transition, such as with a bar or bat mitzvah, but generally these youth are still treated as children and the occasion loses significance in day to day life. In the absense of true rites of passage, we have generations of adults who have never been able to move out of their teen years. I know that I frequently feel still a child myself, and often wonder who could possibly have thought it was a good idea to go out and let me get married and raise children - and I'm in my mid-30s. Rites of passage make a clear distinction between child and adult, and the realization of new privilege and responsibility.

In the absense of rites of passage led by mentors, we have created our own symbols of passage into adulthood. Getting your driver's license, prom, graduating high school, being old enough to vote/drink, first experience with sex/drugs/alcohol. Some of these rites are self-destructive and lack the honor of a RoP acknowledged by the community. Others lack the Testing required to really make one work for their passage (though this is obviously not true for everyone). I think that adults in our culture don't often take the time to help teens prove their age in ways that require hardwork and commitment, nor are adults in our society likely to honor a transition to adulthood that happens in the early teen years.

I found the Journeys discussion to be really thought-provoking. I wonder how these sorts of "artificial" rites of passage - taking city kids out into the wilderness - could impact the usually negative stereotypes we have of our teens. I would love to see our society no longer diminish the good of our teens, and really increase our expectations of and for them, and allow them to be adults in their family's home. I love this idea of creating rites of passage, and I hope that when my kids get older we'll have the wisdom to allow them to become adults, and the strength to give up our children.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

TMI (Too Much Information)

Now you've been warned. Feel free to look away if the discussion of bodily functions makes your stomach turn. ;)

A. has had stool withholding issues since before he turned 2 years old. We tried all the usual stuff, like increasing his fiber and water intake, but nothing helped. He was regularly going 12-14 days without a bm, and it completely destroyed his generally sweet disposition. I imagine I'd be irritable if I was holding it in for two weeks at a time! He eventually was put on Miralax (Polyethylene Glycol), which helped him go about once/week. After a year on daily Miralax, his new ped. added in a stimulant laxative. I regularly fret over whether any of this is good for him, but I know that the alternative isn't good for him either.

Then about two months ago I found out that another mom I know has a son with encopresis, too. Or I should say *had* these same issues. She said that they went on a gluten-free diet and saw a huge change in a number of his behaviors, including the withholding. Being lazy (we'd tried a food elimination diet in the fall, though I wasn't paying attention to how it effected A's output), I didn't feel like pursuing a GF diet right now, but I filed that info away in the back of my mind. The two laxatives we're using work relatively well, and aren't causing obvious harm, so... I don't know.

So yesterday, I take him to the pediatrician for a productive cough that he's had for a couple of months now. No other symptoms. I thought I was hearing wheezing, and the dr. confirmed that (we went through asthma with N., so it's familiar territory for us). A. also has some weird rashes that I wasn't sure about - turns out it's eczema. A. used to have eczema as a baby, and periodically will get a patch or two, but it never looked like what he's got now so I didn't associate the two. Now I know.

I can't help but start to put all this stuff together - the encopresis, eczema, and asthma. I also can't help but think that a food sensitivity might be to blame for these, as well as some of his behaviors that I've thought might be sensory related. It looks like I'm going to be pursuing some kind of diet change, but I want to have a game plan, so I'm going into Research Mode and trying to find out as much as I can. I'd be relieved if we could find an obvious food connection, or some environmental connection, that would allow us to get him off of all the meds that he's currently on. There's just got to be a better way.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mission accomplished.

We had Lego Club this afternoon with the homeschool group. Today's challenge was to create a vehicle that could survive going down a ramp and over a jump - oh, and it had to safely transport an egg in the process. N. got right to work on the challenge when we got there, and she was the first to successfully complete her mission. She received a certificate, a pencil, and a small checkered flag, and was quite proud of her accomplishment! Eventually I got into the action and tried to create a car with a trailer that carried my egg, but it kept jack-knifing partway down the ramp. I did eventually succeed, but it was definitely harder than it looked.

A. sat down to do school with us this morning while N. did math. In one activity he was supposed to look at a number and draw that many balls. A circle seemed simple enough. I know he's capable (he can write a handful of letters when he chooses to), but he just didn't feel like it today. Instead, he just made the correct number of scribble marks. Objective completed. Not pretty, but completed.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Pack your bags

I grew up a with a very sparse religious upbringing. Grandmothers did their part, and whisked us off to church when my sister and I would stay for a sleepover on a weekend. When I was middle school-age, My mom started us going to church on a slightly more regular basis. I remember the first time we went to our church was Easter Sunday, sixth grade.

I never liked church. For one thing, I always hated getting dressed up. As I got older, I rationalized that God should be pleased just to have me there - what one wears to worship God shouldn't make much of a difference, as long as you do it. I also felt painfully out of place in Sunday school and youth group. I didn't have enough of a background in the bible, or Christianity, to understand what was being talked about. I definitely felt like a sub-par Christian. Sometimes I still feel like I don't really understand what it means to be a Christian.

In college, I pursued a liberal arts education and became interested in ethnic and religious studies. I became bitter over the slaughter of innocent people, time and time again, done in the name of God or for the good of the Church. I completely turned away from organized religion, as I knew it. But still there remained a very strong, spiritual side to my being. I loved the Eastern religions that I studied. I think that what appealed to me is the responsibility one takes for one's own spiritual growth - less of the "group think" mentality. There's an open acknowledgment that everyone is in a different place on their spiritual journey, and taking the path that is right for them. And the eastern religions seem to embody peace with All around them. It just speaks to me.

Yet I still feel myself bound by the experiences of my youth. Recently N. has been asking questions about "who we are", ie: Are we Christians? I have trouble answering that question, which she means in the simplest way, as though she were merely asking: "Are we Americans?" (though I might take that to be just as loaded as the prior question, LOL). I've roughly outlined that Christians believe that Jesus is God, in human form (ie. the Son of God). I told her that me and her Daddy were raised in Christian homes, and that we celebrate Christmas and Easter, but not really in a Christian sense. And I told her that she may grow up to be Christian, or she might choose some other path.

I worry that I'm doing her (and eventually A.) a disservice by not providing them with any kind of path at all. At least I, as a child, was aware of some kind of sketchy path that I knew many of the important adults in my life were travelling down. I suppose that path is more akin to a freeway, and that I seem to spend a lot of time on side roads, but at least I know I can always find my way back to the freeway. I'm not good with freeway driving, but could probably do it if I had to (stick with the analogy, folks). With the kids, it's like we're raising them on a small island off the mainland. They know that the freeway exists because they've heard stories about it, but they can't quite imagine what a freeway would look like, and would have a difficult time ever getting there. I'm trying to figure out a way to pack up some of my spiritual baggage to give the kids a fair chance at growing up with a religious connection that can carry them through their lives. Whether they grow up to be freeway drivers, or meander on side roads shouldn't be a decision that their parents make for them, but leaving them the option to do either is something we owe to them.

Recently heard...

N. and I were standing in the kitchen the other day, when suddenly, the tack that was holding our calendar up fell out of the wall and the calendar fell to the ground. I commented that I really needed to take care of that.

N. commiserated with me (she has a calendar in her room that apparently suffers from the same problem), saying

"You know? I find that the Bi-ble... Is it the Bible, Mom?"

"Yes, dear." (really need to do something about their spiritual upbringing, or lack their of).

"I find that the Bible really helps."

I'm thinking, "huh"? What? She prays that the calendar won't fall down? Then it clicks - she uses the Bible to get the tack back into her wall!

My little lamb has already learned to use the Bible as a hammer. Literally. ;P