Monday, July 14, 2014


Yesterday I left the kids watching TV while I took a phone call. When I came back out, I looked for Colin and couldn't find him. Actually, I noticed that the container of donuts was missing from the counter before I noticed Colin was nowhere to be found.

I  eventually found him (and the empty donut container) under the dining room table. He ate the last two donuts and a few grapes before passing out on the floor.

The scene of Colin's crime: a grape, a smear of chocolate frosting, and the empty donut box.
Ask Colin to go find his shoes and he can't. Hide a single M&M somewhere in the house and he will tear everything apart until he finds it. I call it the Law of Colin.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July in the garden.

I've spent my whole life thinking I don't like blueberries. Today, curiosity got the better of me while I was sitting on the deck and I ate one of the first ripe berries from our new bushes. To my surprise, it was amazing. I picked and ate all of the remaining ripe ones. I guess I've never had a good blueberry before now. I might even have to buy more bushes.

With July officially here, the garden is growing well. I'm so glad that we put my beds in this year, because I don't know how I would be sane if I didn't have this little naptime diversion each day.

A little snack of peas for Jared's lunch and a sampling of hot peppers for his co-worker.
Cherry tomatoes getting ready to start changing colors.

My new raised beds as seen from above. Beans, onions, lettuce, tomatillos, tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, carrots, and melons.

'Northcountry' blueberries gearing up for end of July harvest.

'Jelly Bean' blueberries starting to ripen right now.

'Marianna's Peace' tomato, on its way to becoming a 2 lb giant.

One of hundreds of tomatillo blossoms being pollinated by a little bug friend.

Lettuce waiting to be thinned.

Pole beans twisting to the top of their trellis.

Future cucumber pickle in the making.

A glut of what I thought were supposed to be lemon peppers, but they appear to be turning red. Surprise!

Onion scapes hanging out.

We have the contractors coming to our house tomorrow to (hopefully!) continue work on our project and get things sorted out. I'm kind of worried about that. I just want things to be done and to be done nicely.

But at least my garden looks good, right?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thank you for making my day better, Cake.

I haven't published anything for a while because I was CERTAIN that my next post should be about something good. I kept waiting and waiting for something awesome to happen so that I could write about it and share a positive experience, but nothing like that came my way. We're still dealing with our home improvement nightmare. My stomach muscles are still (and will continue to) rip apart slowly and torturously for the next 7+ weeks. The house continues to be a mess and we will never be 100% caught up on housework and laundry and dishes. The roads remain flooded with the Minnesota River's equivalent of muffin top, leaving Jared to commute and me to sit home alone for an extra hour each day. We've been transitioning the kids to sharing a single room, so we're running a little worse for the wear when it comes to sleep.

But good things did happen. Good things are still happening. My garden is growing. We're managing to hold down the fort and do at least the bare minimum of housework to get by. We are all healthy and safe. Jared and I went out for our anniversary and spent some time by ourselves for the first time in a long time.

I've been starting to feel the pressure of my impending due date and freak out about getting everything done. Jared has been really great at reminding me that when it all boils down, my concerns are trivial. There's a saying that I really like that goes something to the tune of, "Don't let perfect get in the way of good."

We have enough laundry. The house is dirty but okay. The weeds aren't hurting anything. All of these things are "good enough" and "good enough" wouldn't be called "good enough" if it weren't at least moderately acceptable, right?

Right now, I think it's healthiest for me to just say "good enough" is "good enough." I need to stay sane and present for my family. My kids still need me regardless of whether the house is sparkling or not.  I don't need to get upset about things that won't even be an issue six months from now.

Today I felt angry and discouraged after my doctor appointment and coming home to an ugly house. I got kind of fixated on my bad mood until this Cake lyric came on the radio:

"The ornaments look pretty, but they're pulling down the branches of the tree."

Pretty is nice, but not at the expense of pulling down my branches. I just need to focus on keeping my head in the game. Maybe I should buy that song to remind me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Colin, the devious child.

I feel like I spend my entire day foiling Colin's plots.

Today I took a (five minute!) phone call in my bedroom and when I came back out I couldn't find Colin. He wasn't downstairs, he wasn't in his room, he wasn't in the bathroom. I started worrying that he opened the door and went outside, but then I saw his knee peeking up behind the couch cushion.

When I went to get a closer look, I found that he had stolen the remaining half-pan of Rice Krispies treats.  He hid behind the couch cushion, ate as much as he could manage, and he fell asleep with the remaining Rice Krispy chunk that defeated him.

I fear I will be completely defeated once third child shows up. There is no hope for me.

Monday, June 2, 2014

This afternoon in my garden.

I was having a hard time remembering the good things today, so I stepped outside and took a peek at my garden while the kids were napping.

The tomatoes survived the storms. The carrots' tops are are still reaching their fingers for sunshine. 

The pea plants are climbing higher, unfurling their blossoms while they go.

The beans, although only just sprouted, are reaching for the trellises. The tomatillos are standing tall, looking sturdy and healthy.

These onion scapes are multiplying, unfazed by the high winds.

Baby lemon peppers, who have already been earmarked for salsa, are taking advantage of today's sun.

It turned out that there is a lot of good happening today, I just had to notice it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Home ownership is not for the weak, apparently.

We've been having some work done on the house lately. We're really unhappy with the quality of work we've received. I want to talk about it so much, but I also feel like it probably isn't proper for me to say too much until this whole situation is over. I always feel better after I can write about my problems, but  pouring my heart out over this keyboard only to click "save as private draft" is unbearably frustrating.

I've been upset about this whole thing for a week and a half, but today was the first day I actually cried. I was in the middle of making myself a snack when I looked at the work that was done and became completely overwhelmed with thinking about all of the stress involved in this whole situation. It was all I could do not to cry, so I stopped fighting it. I cried.

And you know what? It's stupid to cry over home improvements. No matter how unhappy you are with how they're turning out, it's stupid. Completely stupid.

Believe me. I know this is a stupid thing to cry about. I know that there are so many worse things that could be happening to me. I'm healthy. My kids are happy.  In the big picture, my life is so much more than I could have expected. I know that my house is just a house and our money is just money, but I can't stop thinking about it. It's like telling your brain, "Don't think about lavender elephants!" and then all your brain can obsess about is, "Ohhhh. Purple pachyderms! Can't get enough! Think about them! Become one with them!"

Every time I come home and I pull into the driveway, I see their work and I get angry. When I sit down to eat lunch, I look at their work and I lose my appetite. When I climb into bed exhausted after another long day, I just can't stop my brain from thinking, "Elephants. Don't think about them! Definitely think about something else. You aren't thinking about that, right? Does thinking about thinking about them count? Stop thinking that!"

But of course, I can't do that. It's not that easy. I can't just shut off my mind.

I'm so exhausted. I've been losing sleep over this stupid problem at night and then waking up early in the morning with the kids, who (due to this project) no longer have blackout shades in their bedrooms to prevent them from getting up at the crack of dawn. I wasted so much time on the phone calling people to try and figure out the situation and determine what I should do. We had my mother-in-law staying with us for the week and I feel like I barely got to spend any time with her because this problem was consuming me so completely.

For a year we saved up our money for this project, looking forward to getting it done and feeling excited about how nice it was going to look and how much more functional it'd make our house. But now I just regret ever calling them up in the first place.

The only upside I can think of for this whole mess is that at least I am getting better at sticking up for myself. That counts for something, right? I have to take any positive thought I can get at this point.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Looking for a reading rainbow in this thunderstorm.

Oliver has recently shown an interest in learning to read. Which is great! Sort of. Don't get me wrong, I think it's awesome that he wants to read.

But teaching him to read? It is painful. I would rather change 1,000 diapers.  I'd probably even rather rip off my big toenail. It is nothing short of a miracle if we both don't end up angry at the end of a 15 minute reading session.

To him, reading is this magical thing. Adults do it! His teachers do it! Important people do it! Video games and board games and road signs and kids' menus require it!

He sees all the benefits that come along with literacy and he wants them. Reading would open up so much for him right now. The only problem is that he thinks he should be able to do it and that he should be able to do it now. But of course, he can't. He's four and half. Most kids his age can't read. Most kids aren't even trying. It is natural for him to struggle, but he doesn't even begin to see it that way. He's used to being smart and being able to learn things easily, so when something is a true struggle he gets frustrated and then he gets MAD.

Yesterday he shouted at me, "I AM NEVER GOING TO READ EVER SO I MIGHT AS WELL THROW AWAY ALL OF THESE BOOKS." That was actually much more preferable to me than the time he yelled, "YOU AREN'T DOING A GOOD JOB AND IT IS YOUR FAULT I CAN'T READ."

I think experiencing and overcoming frustration is important for children, but this just feels like too much. I've tried ending sessions before he gets to that point of explosive anger, but I just can't stop him. He insists that he really likes reading and that he wants, nay needs, to practice more. The obsessive part of his brain that he inherited from Jared makes leaving a story unfinished feel like a torturous failure.  If we stop, he is angry that he was bested by a "really super easy" story. If we keep going, he is unbearably frustrated because everything in the entire world is against him and the letter H is just too hard.

Either way, I lose.

Regardless, I still continue our reading sessions.  Since he is so completely determined, I feel like I shouldn't discourage him. I don't want him to think that he should quit when something feels hard and frustrating. But I also don't want to watch him get angry and volatile every afternoon, either.

It's a hard place to be, and I'm unsure of which direction I should head. Soon this should get easier, right? Or at least less frustrating?

I took this video toward the end of one of his "pleasant" reading experiences. He was still doing fairly well at that point, but he was starting to make mistakes and you can see the frustration under the surface just waiting to explode into anger. 

Every night when I tuck him in to bed, it's my tradition to tell him something positive about the day. Lately I've been telling him how proud I am that he keeps working on his reading skills even though it is really hard for him.  Every night he says the same thing.

"Yeah, maybe tomorrow I can read."

I wish.