Thursday, September 29, 2011


One of the places I've diverged from others: the schooling of Miss Alice.  We are seriously considering the pros and cons and wherewithal of homeschooling this small firecracker.  There is reading and praying and lots and lots of talking involved.  I come to the topic in fits and starts, which is why I have yet to tell you about it much at all.

In the mean time, I've joined a small group of women in a preschool co-op.

We take turns each week, teaching the children.

It was my turn yesterday.  The letter B and number 1.  Have I mentioned that our preschool is comprised of three boys and Alice?

They all did so well, even though I was terrified.

We sang songs, talked, pretended to be honeybees, ate a snack of Bread and Bananas, and made stripey Bumble B's.

It was kind of awesome.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

the best offense

I'm tired of opinions.  Everyone has one (or several).

We do a lot of things that seem to generate opinions from other people.

I'm not sure why they feel the need to share with me.

I've heard about schooling and sickness and deadly nut allergies, bed times and discipline and the spacing of additional children.

In every case I'm citing, the opinions weren't favorable ones.  And in most cases, they weren't even kind.

Is there something about my face that welcomes people to tell me that I'm doing it wrong?

I've been wondering about that quite a bit.

So, dear readers, I'm turning to you for advice.  What do you do when someone offers an opinion about how you're living your life that you don't like, or even worse, is based on erroneous assumptions that make you want to punch the opinion-offerer in the nose?  I'm guessing you don't throw any punches.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

strange and mostly about television

Nothing connects these things, it's what happens to my brain these days when not regularly exercised.

- - -

The paci removal project is done and gone, as far as I'm concerned.  We're actually able to talk about pacifiers around Alice without her getting upset and weird about it, asking me to get hers back from the store.  My feelings about the experiment follow:

1. Having Alice give the paci's to a completely unconnected stranger (aka the clerk at the pet store) was exactly what we needed to do.  If it had been Chip or me taking them away, she would have seen us as an enemy.  This way, whenever we talked about it afterward, especially when she was asking about where they were and suggesting that maybe we get them back, I was able to say that they were at the store and then discuss her awesome fish.  A nice deflection, there.

2. Speaking of the store clerk, it turns out that we gave her a once-in-a-lifetime experience, because as we were leaving, she told us that she'd never had someone pay with pacifiers before and couldn't wait to tell her friends about it.

3. I should have considered more deeply the fact that I would become the Designated Fish Caretaker.  I'm curious how many of my goldfish and hamsters that my mom was feeding, caring for, and when I wasn't in the room--- watching?  Because the other thing that I wasn't expecting is how mind-numbingly entertaining they are.  Or, at least, how one can spend an HOUR in front of the aquarium in slack-jawed awe.

4. They're all still alive, btw.  And of course, now that I've said it out loud and now that our two-week warranty is up, I'm expecting a dramatic fishy death any day now.

5. Also, despite my best imaginings, no new baby fish either.

6. One side effect of the paci removal is that Alice is now strangely worried about losing everything.  I'm answering this question on a regular basis: Can I keep ___?---- as in, Can I keep my toothbrush?  Can I keep my blanket?  Can I keep Olivia the Pig?

- - -

I think it's a product of brain calcification that I'm THIS excited for a new season of Super Why to have started on Monday.

On that note:
1. Has Super Why jumped the shark since they added a cuddly talking dog to their group of Super Readers?

2. It would appear that Wonder Red has a new disturbing hip gyration in her rhyming dance.  Has anyone else noticed this?

3. And further, either the kid doing the voice for Pig is going through puberty, or they've recast the dude, because: TOTALLY DIFFERENT VOICE.

4. Lastly, I think the writers are actually trying to age Baby Joy - because the baby who was merely crying and laughing and had barely any hair at all for several seasons is now sporting a flowing mane of toddler hair and talking up a storm.  It's weird, is what I'm saying.

- - -

Do you think it's weird that Alice runs around the house at 7pm singing WHEEEEEEL --- OF --- FORTUNNNNNNE!!!!!!!!!!!!

- - -

I'm not ashamed to admit that I watched All My Children yesterday, and plan to do so again tomorrow and Friday.  It's the last few days of an institution, after all.  Plus: Sarah Michelle Gellar talking about vampires!

- - -

I miss milk.

When I'm pregnant I can't consume milk in ANY form without serious consequences.  No more needs to be said about the particulars.

But I really do miss milk, especially in the frozen dessert form.


Monday, September 19, 2011

From the bottom to the top

I write to you from the exotic locale of flat on my back.

The reality of New Pregnancy, Whole New Realm of Pregnancy Symptoms hit a few weeks ago. It started with some twinges of pain at the back of my leg... Thought it might be muscle spasms or something. Then in the days following, it grew and grew until I could barely stand.

Now I have a diagnosis under my belt and a sincere pain in my... Um.

Let's just say, I am looking for any and all suggestions y'all might have to deal with sciatica. I have a prescription for physical therapy-- which I am going to (begrudgingly) pursue, but tell me whatcha got.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

navel gazing of the second part

(I'm not sure what happened, but this entire post was hijacked by EXTREME CAPS LOCK USAGE, and I'm just going to apologize for it here.  Carry on.)

As something of a long-time blog reader (I stalked people LONG BEFORE I ever had the guts to introduce myself or put this little old Creamery out on the internets), I consider myself a pretty decent source of truth when I say the following:


I don't mean any disrespect to any of y'all who are busy blogging about the belly when it's not the first time around - but I know what I know.  When it's your first time, there's all this awesome discovery of the heinous and weird and completely unbelievable crap that your body goes through.  It's funny.  And horrifying.  And also strangely touching, in the best way possible. 

But those second babies---- well, there isn't a lot said about them.  The strange discoveries are done and gone, and while it's still awesome, the being pregnant stuff--- there is clock-watching that just doesn't make for a good blog entry.

Be that as it may, I promise I won't be totally silent over here (if ever - ha!).  And I feel bad that I haven't said much more about little Polly.  But I get it, I get it in a visceral way that I didn't before: I don't have the same sense of intense focus on this belly that I did with Bean.  How could I?  Bean herself is doing so much to keep my attention focused outside of myself --- I'm doing a preschool co-op with some friends that starts next week (more on this later), and until very recently I felt like every day that I actually spent upright was a TOTAL WIN, which meant that my personal expectations were down to LET'S CELEBRATE THAT WHIMSY GOT DRESSED TODAY and LET'S TOAST WHIMSY THAT SHE MANAGED TO CLEAN THE BATHROOM.  It didn't leave a lot of room for writing navel-gazing missives about my hopes and fears for Baby Whimsy #2.

And now that I'm here, on the other side of First Trimester Sickfest, the intense view of WHAT HAVE I DONE fades into smoke and I'm feeling...  optimistic.  And even... excited.

Which means that I can say, as if I'm discovering it for the first time:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

through several lenses

Hello.  I am officially reporting from the other side of Operation Paci Removal.  It's a surreal view so far, and a little too soon for me to say much about it except that we all survived.

Including the fish (at least so far).

Each of us has some opinions about the fish.

A few of those opinions are shared:
1. The pineapple house is fantastic.
2. The tank needs some greenery (which, after these photos were taken, we went out and bought a small plastic plant that's just perfect).
3. Having fish is strangely entertaining.
4. Their food is smelly.
5. It's really hard to take a good picture of fish.

The rest of our opinions are best represented this way:

According to Alice:

According to Whimsy:

According to Chip:

According to the Fish:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

on transitions and change: the view from the pacifier bowl

It is late Wednesday evening as I write this.  I am listening to Alice over the room monitor.  Her first night without a pacifier.

So far we have gone in there for trips to the bathroom (notice the plural), to find specific buddies (little Elmo, Grover), to answer questions, to take clothes off a buddie (it is unacceptable that Elmo go to bed in corduroy pants and flannel shirt), and to deliver a tiny book about cats that Alice is convinced she cannot sleep without.

During the last Alice pit stop, Chip decided to stay.  He is now hunkered down on her bedroom floor, hoping that his presence will soothe her into dreamland.

I don't think that Alice is the only one who really misses that paci.

- - -

We've been working toward this for months.  She hasn't been allowed to use one for more than actual sleep in a year.  And in the last six months, we've tapered off her even holding more than one at a time.  Meanwhile, I have been thinking hard about what motivates this girl, and after some serious deep thinking, I came up with FISH.  Which sounds weird, I know.  But she wants a pet, has wanted a pet to call her own for a long while.  And she's allergic to anything with hair.  So we have fish.  And you know, with enough build up and visits to the pet store: fish are EXCITING.

It turns out, according to Alice's parents, fish are also EXPENSIVE.  So expensive, in fact, that they can't be bought with money.  The pet store will only take paci's as payment.

Two days ago we bought a small fish tank and several fish tank accoutrements to Alice's liking.

And today, we walked into Petsmart, picked out three little colorful fish, and Alice paid for them with a bag full of pacifiers.

- - -

She named them Spoonjab (phonetic spelling), Annie, and Miss Hannigan.

- - -

After getting the trio set up in their new digs, we had a family picnic in Alice's room because she couldn't bear to be away from her new fish.

- - -

The reality of Life Without Paci hit dear Bean as soon as I was done reading her bedtime story.  When she asked for a paci, and I reminded her that they'd been left at the store, she sort of just looked.  Blinked.  And then said, "But I need something for my mouth!"

- - -

I usually resist writing anything when I'm still in the middle of it --- it's like trying to describe the ocean while swimming neck-deep in it.  The view obscured to a straight blue line, small bobbing things far off in the distance.

And it's just as true in this instance as in any: I can't tell you what it's like on the other side, only tell you that her pain and frustration and worry is real. 

Here's hoping for better nights to come.

How have you handled transitions at your house?  How long does it take you or your kids to get used to the change?  Have you ever gone back to an old way of doing things because the transition was too hard?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

the summer of alice

In the way of a three-year-old, every day has been a possibility of wonder.  While others of us have been preoccupied with questions of future employment and a healthy baby and finances and what in Heaven's name we'll be eating for dinner when the cook feels like she's been peeled off the bottom of a shoe--- sweet Alice has been thinking about play, amassing more treasures for her treasure box (already full-to-the-brim), how many  hats she can jam on her head, the sandbox, and new ways to convince her mother that ice cream is an important food group.

I don't ever want to romanticize my life here in this space - there's plenty of that out there on the internets without me joining in, but it's hard not to dip the Alice stories in dreamy gauze.


The other day I was feeling so sick, and so tired--- which of course helped me to take the small step into Complete Self Loathing quite easily.  As I lay hopeless on the sofa, a thought struck me that not only was I a horrible housekeeper, a useless wife, and a terrible friend - I had FAILED in my motherly duty of Historian and hadn't taken any pictures of Alice all summer.  I tried to think of any single event or funny thing I'd caught on film and my mind went blank. 

Imagine my surprise when I checked the camera last night to find several snaps of Alice in Summer Glory.

Sometime in my mid-elementary school years, Winston was laid off.  I remember it being early summer, or nearly so.  And we had just started to remodel our house.  Suddenly Dad was home all the time, and wearing his grubby clothes, carrying a hammer and spending his days building a second story on our house.  It's strange what sticks in the memory, I think: how arbitrary our brain is when it chooses to keep one faded image over another.  But the truth is, I don't remember being scared or worried or the least bit fazed over dad's unemployment.  That summer, the summer of drill bits and two-by-fours - the sawdust in our hair and the smell of fresh-cut wood - was one of the best summers of my life.

I can't imagine that this summer will quite compare for Alice, in scope or depth - to that far-off clutch of months in my childhood, but I can hope that this was at least a sweet one for her.


Monday, September 5, 2011

the story behind the story

It is incredibly FREEING to have that little secret out in the open.  Writing anything for the past couple of months has been so weird - with so much of what I've been experiencing colored by the fact that we're going to have another baby.  ANOTHER BABY.  I will now tell you some of the other fun details that I left off previously:

1. We found out we were pregnant two days into our GRAND SUMMER FIVE STATE 25-DAY ROAD TRIP EXTRAVAGANZA.  There was me, a test I'd just thrown into my bag for kicks, and the funny feeling I had waking up that morning.  I figured I'd just take the test... as a test.  For the future.  Because we'd decided that we were going to get started on Alice's future sibling.  In a million years, I wasn't expecting a positive test.  Let alone, a test that showed its results not in three minutes, but THREE SECONDS.  My first reaction?  I laughed.  I just couldn't believe it.

And neither could Chip, but this time around, he didn't make me take an additional five tests--- just to make sure, just in case.

2. I have been through every shade of opinion and worry about Alice as Big Sister.  She is going to be amazing, I know this.  But my worries have been mostly centered on her COMPLETE HORROR over finding me holding another baby.  In this case, it was her baby cousin Carter while we were visiting the Little Brother in Utah.  Alice howled, just howled - and then literally begged me to give the baby back.  I don't think that even early pregnancy symptoms could outweigh the overwhelming desire I had to vomit right there on the spot, feeling like I was betraying this sweet little Bean-girl.  But she has been full of surprises - and as we've talked to her about the joys (and the realities) of having a sibling, she has somehow come around.  And when we actually told her the other day that she was going to have a baby brother or sister, she was excited.  Truly excited.

Let's not discuss the fact that so far she seems to see this future sibling as some kind of a pet--- and has actually asked for a "little cage, like for a hamster, to put him in".  Which, also to point out: she has made clear that she will only accept a baby brother.  There is no discussion or even glimmer of a possibility of a sister, just brother.  So.

3.  I'm due March 20.

4. I have been sick and queasy and exhausted for weeks now, but I am feeling the first inklings of Second Trimester Return to Normalcy.

5. And last, but most certainly not least: thank you all for your wonderful well-wishes and sweet notes of confidence.  There is a lot more to say about my worries and hopes for this little tadpole baby.  And rest assured, I'm going to talk your ear off about all of it.  Because dude: BABY.  But speaking of which, so far the only name that has stuck, relatively speaking, is Polly.  There's this song that Alice loves to listen to from the Bare Naked Ladies' album for kids, called Pollywog in a Bog.  And, well...  when we saw that first ultrasound, with P's arms wiggling there by his head, it just stuck.  And yes, I said HE, even though we have no concrete idea, and won't know until late October, but I have a feeling, and so does Alice...

Friday, September 2, 2011

what if

What if it turns out to be the most expensive thing we have ever done?

What if we don't have enough money?

What if we are unprepared?

What if I get really sick?

What if Chip gets really sick?

What if I can't do it?

What if everything that's happened, up to this point, is a fluke?

What if it just breaks Alice, like right in half?

What if we fight all the time?

What if there is heart trouble or brain trouble or some kind of physical cataclysm?

What if there is mental trouble or pharmaceuticals or constant doctor's visits?

What if there is heartbreak and sadness, loss and grief of a kind that weights us down until we can't breathe?

What if we unbalance the scales?

What if we break the surface of this beautiful life we've built and it's terrible--- just terrible?

What if we are absolutely miserable?

And what if it works? What if it's a bliss that can't come in any other way than through the tempering strength of pain? What if everything else is true: the misery and worry and heartbreak and destruction--- and what if there, under the surface of all that darkness lies the gift of the life we are meant to have; that in the crucible of this experience, we find something we didn't know we were ever missing?

Are you ready for this ride?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

a theme of oatmeal

I've been eating a lot of it lately.  Every morning, in fact: a warm bowl of oatmeal with toast.  At first it was because we had a big box of instant packets in the pantry.  Wanting to be thrifty, I figured I'd just eat the stuff and save on cereal.

After a while, I developed a taste for it.

Now I've moved on to a big drum of the stuff nestled in the lower cabinet lazy susan.

So oatmeal cookies seemed like the right back to school fall cookie recipe.  Karen tells me that it's a new tradition at their house: a new cookie for the new school year.

Before we get to the recipe, I'll tell you that I'm something of an oatmeal cookie aficionado.  Picky, even.  Not so crunchy as to be crumbly - but not so soft that they bend in half when held in your hand.  I like cinnamon in them, and raisins.  Which is weird, because I don't normally like anything lumpy in bread or cookies or ice cream (raisins, nuts, candy that doesn't dissolve like skittles or gummy bears - totally unacceptable).  But raisins in oatmeal cookies?  Yes, yes, and yes.

I also don't like chocolate chips in oatmeal cookies.  I have reasons: namely that the chocolate seems to make it not an oatmeal cookie, somehow.  But that's neither here nor there, because this recipe has lots and lots of room for interpretation.

But I think that one word is true, no matter what you choose to add or delete: DELICIOUS.

Whimsy's Oatmeal Cookies

2 sticks softened butter (regular butter, not unsalted - and soft, NOT MELTED)
1 1/2 cups packed golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups regular oats (not quick)
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins

(alternate additions: 1 cup raisins, 1 cup chopped nuts, 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup shredded coconut)

Preheat oven to 350.  In large bowl of electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 1 minute).  Add eggs and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Add oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Mix on low speed until blended.  Add optional ingredients at this time.  I always add raisins, and have occasionally also put in the coconut--- pretty delicious.  Mix on medium speed until incorporated.

Drop batter by heaping teaspoons 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet.  Bake for 10-13 minutes or until golden brown.  Mine usually take 11 minutes.  Cookies will feel soft but will firm up as they cool.  Let stand on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to racks to cool.  Makes about 45 cookies.

Happy September!