Friday, July 17, 2015

Gettin my country girl on

Last weekend I made and canned pickles and 2 different versions of peach jam.  Sometimes I just get this deep-seated need to preserve food.  It feels wholesome and homey to me.  Makes me remember canning jams, tomatoes, green beans, and tons of other veggies at my grandparents' farm.

I loved that farm.  I loved doing farm work with Grandpa, and cleaning house/preserving foods with Grandma.  Planting tomatoes, helping the corn down the hole in the bottom of that funnel wagon thing (whatever it's called), eating watermelon on the back porch, helping wrap and label the butchered meat, so much big fun.

A farm is really a whole family affair, and I miss some of that.  Even when I was little, I was called upon to go to the garden to pick tomatoes and help with the canning.

I feel like so much of this is ingrained in my bones, a vital part of me.

So this weekend, when I was making peach jam, I was really hopeful that the girls would want to help and love the jam.  But of course they didn't really want to help after a minute of stirring, and Genevieve wouldn't even try the jam.  (After bargaining with her, she finally tried some and said she didn't like it.)

To say I was disappointed doesn't quite cover it.  If I'm honest, my feelings were a little bit hurt.  Which isn't really the girls fault at all, mind you.  I fully understand that it's not their responsibility to make Mommy happy, that they're not little extensions of me, and that they like their own things.

But I really do worry that they're missing out on something big, something I can't quite put my finger on.

Jas and I are blessed to have good jobs and make a good living.  We live in a neighborhood with nice houses, involved parents, pretty parks, etc.  It seems that everywhere we look, people have plenty.  And this is just not the way of the world.

We live in a bubble of good fortune.

I don't think my kids understand that there are many, many people who worry because they don't have enough.  That there are families that can't afford and lose their homes, kids with not enough food to eat, parents who can't buy their kids new shoes when the old ones get holes through them.

And in many ways, it's probably okay that my kids don't get this.  They're still little, and it's a big pill to swallow.  And we send Bella to a magnet school (and we'll send Vieves when she's old enough), and a large percentage of the kids who attend are quite poor.  So they'll have more exposure to life outside the bubble there.

But I worry, are they missing out on something by having too much?

My grandfather grew up dirt poor, with abusive parents who eventually abandoned him and his siblings.  He went into foster care, and thankfully came out with a good family.  But he knew what it was like to be so poor that you eat the only thing in the fridge, butter, for dinner.  He stole eggs from his neighbors and sold those same eggs back to them.  The neighbors knew of course, but Grandpa was so poor that the neighbors bought the eggs anyway.  And somebody broke a bottle over Grandpa's head when he was a kid.  These stories, which I think are true but am recalling from when I was young, colored my world.

I watched Grandpa work hard, harder than anybody else I've ever known, growing food, working a full-time job besides, putting in 70-80 hour work weeks until his body was too riddled with cancer to work anymore.  I watched him penny-pinch.  I watched him worry about his kids, and his grandkids, and save and save so that he could pass down his savings and worry that much less about us going hungry.  Many of the lessons I learned from watching all this really define who I am, what I value.

My kids are not very many generations away from people who truly had to struggle, but they do not have to struggle.  They're enjoying the fruits of the labor of all of these people, but they have no frame of reference to appreciate these fruits.

Oh well.  They're still little, too little to really get it.

And I'm probably making too big of a fuss over something that will hopefully work itself out over time, with lessons about saving and working hard and family from Jas and I.

And maybe they'll want to help me make jam next time around...

Friday, June 5, 2015

Just one more day!

My baby's last day of kindergarten is Monday.  How did that even happen?

I am so relieved that summer break is right around the corner.  I think our family needs it.  Getting Bella to school every day is a struggle.  I'm stressed every morning about getting her to the bus on time, and Jason has to be home pretty darn early to get her from the bus stop.  Plus, I think Bella really doesn't care for school.  So woohoo!

Plus, summer means vacations are now possible again.  We've been so used to our schedules with our vacation time dictating when we can go where, but now it's all about the school schedule.  So in the next month we are visiting tons of grandparents, going to the beach, going to Ohio, and just all out rocking it.

This summer also marks the beginning of camps for Bells.  We'll see how she likes those.  She's doing 2 baking/cooking camps, 2 art camps, and 3 drama camps.  She tends to like all of that; so here's hoping she has tons of fun and that it's not stressful.

Oh, and our beloved babysitter Cailin is back from college.  So Jas and I get a weekly break/date night/whatevs.

We had Vieve's preschool parent/teacher conference recently, and Genevieve got checks for almost every category of skills.  One she missed?  Choosing her own work.  Apparently Miss Vieves likes to walk around and check what the other kids are doing and make sure they are doing their work correctly, and then to tattle if they are not.  Sounds so much like Vieves.

In other news, my BFF recently got engaged.  I am beyond excited to be her matron of honor.  We're going dress shopping for her this weekend.  I hate shopping, but I am so stoked.  And her beau is a great guy, and he's great with the kids; so we're thrilled he'll be a permanent fixture for us too :)

I'm so looking forward to the next few weeks.  I've missed people terribly.  This is the first year in many we haven't made it back to Ohio for Easter, and we're craving that time back home.  We're happy in NC, but I really think our favorite place on earth is probably Ohio.  It just feels like home.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Caffeine withdrawal

I gave up my beloved Diet Coke when I found out I was pregnant with Bella, and stayed off it until I was finished nursing Vieves.  I nursed Vieves until she was 2.5; so that was 5 years off the juice.  During those years, I dreamed of Diet Coke, literally.  I'd wake up not certain if I'd cheated or not.

Since then, I have enjoyed way too much Diet Coke.

So I gave it up this past Saturday.

I'm grouchy, have a headache, and just want to sleep.  Grrrrr.

In other news, I'm growing concerned that I'm raising a little spoiled little narcissist.  I'm sure it's just a stage, but Vieves was in rare form this week.  She had bike day at preschool, and was displeased that her scooter was at Grandma's house.  She had a bike, a trike, and we could borrow the neighbor's scooter.  She was displeased with all of those options.  So I called a mom friend down the street and borrowed their scooter.  Vieves was displeased with it when she saw it the next morning and realized it wasn't the kind she wanted.

So now reread that paragraph, and replace every instance of "displeased" with "threw a giant hour-long temper tantrum" or "demanded I go and get her a new scooter" or "said she'd be taunted and it was all my fault" or "demanded I drive 3 hours each way to get her scooter" or "screamed at me".

So yeah, that happened.

Bella, on the other hand, has been exceedingly kind as of late, especially to her sister.  I think she's basking in the praise we give her when she does something nice.  It's incredibly sweet, but Genevieve is in the current mood to take complete and total advantage of Bella's generosity.

Example:  Bella cleaned up a mess that Vieves made.  So we gave Bella 3 jelly beans and said she could do with them what she wanted.  She ate 1, then let Vieves choose 1 of the next 2.  Vieves stole both.  As I was telling Vieves she couldn't have both, Vieves shoved the jelly beans in her maw and Bella said, "That's ok.  She can have 2."

I realize I haven't written much about my girls in awhile; so this is probably making Vieveroo sound like a monster, but she's really not, at least not most of the time.  She's usually sweet and funny and charismatic and just a whole lot of fun.  She's also probably the most persistent (stubborn) person I've ever met.  (My sister-in-law, who is very direct and not prone to exaggeration, has said that Vieves is the most stubborn person she's ever met; so it's not just me...)

Some weeks feel like a slog.  This has been one of them.  But we're coming up on the weekend, and my company's picnic is tonight, which should be a lot of fun.  They even put on fireworks at the end, which the girls are really looking forward too.

TGIF indeed.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Life lessons

I feel like I figured out some things late in life, things that might seem obvious to others.  I hope my kids get some of these earlier.

  • You don't have to like people  Some people are just mean and awful.  Some people might be perfectly nice and just not your cup of tea.  All of that's okay.  You don't have to like them.  It's enough to just be kind.  Unless, of course, somebody makes you feel bad or gives you the creeps.  Then stay far, far away from them.
  • When playing softball/racquetball/etc, "keep your eye on the ball" means focus your vision on the ball.  Not make sure the ball is somewhere in your periphery.
  • Try not to care what other people think.  If something makes you happy, it doesn't matter if you're good or bad at it, just have fun with it.
  • Being friends with crazy people is not such a good idea.  They might be a lot of fun, but the dramatics get old.  And you can't reason with crazy people.  You're more likely to make yourself crazy than to help them be sane.
  • You don't have to have kids to have a full and good life.  I love my kids and am thrilled that they're my babies, but I cannot deny that my life changed, in many ways for the harder, when I had kids.  I love my kids, and wouldn't trade them for the world, but I don't always love being a Mommy.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Date Night!

The kids have been at each other's throats today; so we couldn't ask for a better night for date night.  Woohoo to Little Gym for having a Parent Survival Night today.  We need it :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Bella's reached that awkward age, where her smiles for the camera look forced (because they are) and her teeth are a mix of baby and adult teeth.  She's also far more camera shy than she used to be; so nailing her down for a picture can be difficult.

Genevieve, on the other hand, loves loves loves to be the center of attention, and will pose like a goofball for the camera until she gets bored.  Getting her to actually smile and not be a goofball is the tricky part.  She's mid-dance here.

In a family of introverts, Bella makes sense to me.  I don't know how Jason and I produced a little extrovert, but we did.  Where Bella loves to sit and quietly look at books and can get lost in her own little world, Genevieve loves to twirl around and tell stories and boss everybody she can.  I think Bella helps encourage Genevieve to sit still and focus on things, and Genevieve encourages Bella to let loose and be silly and put on princess shows.

They love each other fiercely, fight like cats and dogs, and make my heart happy every day.  I'm so blessed to be these girls' Mommy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Let's give this another go

So it turns out I miss blogging.

I think I started blogging almost completely 100% for me.

Then a few friends and family started reading it, which was both good and bad.  Good because it's awesome people I love care enough to read my random musings.  Bad because I felt somewhat limited in what I could say.

Then several strangers started reading my posts about the Trisomy-18/SLOS quad-screen scare.  For awhile, I was getting pings every month or so from other scared moms who were anxiously awaiting more testing.  The comments they left were heart-breaking, and as more time was passing, I found it harder and harder to reach out to them.  Because while I remember feeling scared and helpless and looking for any information I could find, enough time has passed, enough new experiences have popped up, that I just can't relate like I once could.  It's no longer fresh.

Also, somewhere along the way, my mental health took a bit of a nosedive.  Issues with Bella got more complex.  Life changed in unpredictable ways.  And I felt uncomfortable writing about some of those things online, where anybody can see it.

Here's the thing though.  I don't journal.  I just can't seem to get into it.  I type WAY faster than I can write, and looking back on my blog makes me smile at my old memories.  Also, it just helps me feel better.

So in an effort to care less about what others think and do what makes me happy, I'm going to attempt this again.  In that vein, I'll just admit some stuff up front.

1)  I'm codependent.

Most people misuse this word to describe somebody who depends on somebody too much, but that's not quite it.  You know how in an abusive household, there's often the peacemaker, the one who does whatever they can to keep the abuser even-tempered?  That peacemaker is codependent.

I do NOT live in an abusive household, and I've never had an abusive boyfriend.  But I have had a couple deeply unhealthy friendships.  The last one was bad enough that I sought therapy to regain some control over my life, and since then, I've been much more aware and less likely to form these relationships.  I still have the tendency to put my needs lower than other people's (often inconsequential) wants, to take offhand comments way too seriously, and to bend my life around somebody else's desires.

Thankfully, I have a great support system of people who get this about me and try not to abuse it.  Jason, for instance, when stating a preference will make it clear that he does not want me to change my behavior or plans if it's of little consequence to him.  And if it's something that has absolutely zero affect on him, I think he just keeps his mouth shut.  Also, he listens when I describe what's going through my head and puts up with me when I worry way too much about other's thoughts.

I'm going to throw a shout-out to my BFF Corrie here as well, as she is all sorts of great for my mental well-being and just overall happiness.

2)  I suffer from depression and anxiety.

I think I was probably always prone to some of this, and can now recognize past times when I probably was depressed.  But it started in earnest right after I had Genevieve.  I had a really difficult time bonding with her for a long time and worried that I never would.  I'd had a postpartum hemorrhage with Genevieve that left me feeling weak and lethargic.  For a long time, I thought what I felt was still left over from the effects of that.  But when I broke down in tears at my 6 week followup, the doctor swiftly put me on extended disability for depression and got me into a psychiatrist.

What's followed has been a pretty long journey of good times and bad times, with plenty of medication thrown in.

I've gotten better at recognizing when I'm falling back into a depressive state, which is good.  But it still sucks.

You know that commercial that says "Depression Hurts"?  Well, it flat out does.  It hurts my mind.  It hurts my body.  It hurts my family.  And I fight it.  I really do.

I've gotten much better, I really have.  But the thing with depression is it leaves you vulnerable.  My ability to roll with the punches is sometimes just non-existent.  It's like my emotional endurance is gone.  Something awful happens, and I need extra help pulling it together.  I've learned to ask for and seek the help though, which is good.

3)  This one's the hardest for me to write about.  Bella is really struggling in school, and in some ways with life.

I question how much I should put of this up here, because in many ways, this is her deal, and not mine.  But here's where I'm going to trust that Bella knows I love her and that I have her best interest at heart.  I'm going to trust my friends and family that read this to be understanding and loyal.  And I'm not going to care about the strangers.  And I'm still going to filter.  Not everything needs to be for public consumption.

Bella is about 2 years behind on her fine and visual motor skills.  She also has ADHD.  The former is the bigger problem right now at school, but the latter is compounding the former.  She's also behind on social skills and is having a hard time with friends.  And there's more, but this is where that filter comes in.

I know that the perception is often that ADHD is over-diagnosed and that she'll grow out of all of this and that we are worrying too much.  If that's your perception, feel free to judge us quietly, but please keep it to yourselves.

Bella is a sweet and kind and loving girl.  And she is struggling.  She's struggling with reading and writing and behavior and friendships.  And it breaks my heart.  All of the time.

Jason and I have near-constant anxiety and worry over this.

I think that's about all I can handle writing right now.

I know some of the friends and family come here mainly for pictures; so I'll try to post some soon.