Monday, November 18, 2013

Gay things

I've been thinking about Gay Things lately. I'm reminded of that quote, about gay weddings; paraphrasing, I don't park my gay car before eating my gay lunch, so why must I have a gay wedding. Macklemore's Same Love has been on the radio for quite awhile now, and yet I still tear up or come close every time I hear it.

His timing on releasing that song really was quite perfect. A year ago, I don't think people were ready for it. But now, I watched a video on kids' reactions to finding out that gay people couldn't get married in every state, and one of the little boys said "It's all the same love, like Macklemore said." Regardless of whatever he (the singer, not the boy) does with his career and life, that is a legacy I would be proud to have.

There are lots of people who are okay with V and I being gay, and being married. There are lots of people who are happy for us. In a lapse in public education, there are even more people who aren't aware of the discrimination that still exists: I have told countless people about DOMA over the years, to their absolute shock; the fact that people can be fired for being gay is another huge issue that most people seem to have no awareness of.

But there's a level that goes beyond being okay. It's the line that gets me, every time, in the song.

"No freedom till we're equal...DAMN RIGHT I support it."

That's what sends chills up and down my spine. No waffling, not even just blatant support; a declaration that is the more poetic form of "Duh!" The number of people who aren't just saying "I'm fine with gay marriage," but actively saying, "Damn right I support it," is growing. And that brings me to happy, astounded tears.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Attention-giving

A few days ago, V made the comment to me that she's not ready for us to have a baby, because she isn't ready to not be the center of my attention. It was a silly comment, but the more I've thought about it, the more right it is.

Even taking out the part where I like my sleep too much, and the ability to visit our old hometown without planning out where to sleep until the day before, and not always worrying about actually eating a meal - all of which are very valid reasons for me to not have a baby right now - it's also true that I want to be able to give her my focus, help her with her first year of teaching, run out to Starbucks for a chai latte on a moment's notice, snuggle in bed on the mornings she doesn't have to get up early.

After all we've come through to be together, I've vowed over and over to myself to not ever take her for granted. And while one day, us having a baby will be the perfect expression of what our love has created, for the present, I'm still too busy treasuring the fact that I went out and did that crazy thing called marrying a girl.

But not just any girl. One I want to pin all my attention and affection on for a good while yet.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

On the hunt

Eli's mom reduced my hours recently, which was somewhat expected and I'm honestly grateful for. We both felt like it was too much: I was hanging around the house while she was there, and she was missing time with her baby. That puts me back on the job hunt, to find something else to go along with still watching him.

I actually have a couple of fairly good prospects, tangentially related to childcare without me actually caring for children. At first, I was overwhelmed again - it seems like every time I turn around, I'm needing to find different employment. But I'm forcing myself to not take the easy way out and look for another family (and yes, I'm aware that it isn't easy work, but for me, it is somewhat of a copout); instead, I'm trying to be a little more grown up and work for a company. But only the right kind.

What's really nice about all this? V has been teaching for a month and a half, and she gets paid for it! I have more flexibility in what I want to look for, and much less pressure to earn all the incomes immediately.

As always, stay tuned.

Monday, September 30, 2013

You've been warned

This post is both NSFW (depending on where you work) and strange, but at least I'm telling you in advance, right?

After a great deal of Eli being troublesome to get to sleep (gone are the days when his mom joked that I brought tranquilizers in my purse), I've reached a somewhat startling conclusion.

Getting a baby to sleep is not unlike trying to get a woman to orgasm.

You can do the same things you've done in the past, successfully, and one day it just up and doesn't work.

It's frequently a matter of guesswork, and always requires paying constant attention to practically nonexistent signs.

If you change it up at the wrong moment, you're doomed, and there is no hope.

The atmosphere has to be set just right.

It takes a certain though always varying amount of prep work and build up to reach the critical moment.

If I sound like a burnt out wife or nanny, rest assured I'm not. But it's worth writing down what goes through my head when I'm singing Hush Little Baby for the thirteenth time at one nap.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This is just irritating

To the Christians who feel like being in America persecutes their way of life and their faith:

Try coming out as gay.
Come out as bi.
As poly.
As pagan.
As atheist.
As Muslim.
As kinky.
As any other "alternative" category you can dream up (no matter how the dreams may frighten you).

Watch your family reject you, or, at best, grit their teeth behind a smile. Know what it's like to live with the knowledge that people are always hoping and waiting for you to change.

A dear married, gay friend shared recently that her dad, who was formerly supportive of her, is starting to question himself. He's starting to wonder if maybe he was wrong about his only daughter, and she really is living a terrible, sinful life. V and I photographed this friend's wedding, and we have a picture of him dancing with her. It blew my mind. (Nothing compared to a later wedding we shot, with both brides' extended families in existence - wow!)

Watch yourself monitor your speech every day, in every situation. Run through the mental gymnastics of audience, timing, appropriateness, stress level, consequences, before saying
"My wife and I."
"Actually, we don't go to church."
"I love both of these people."
"I appreciate your concern, but the bruises aren't from abuse."
"I believe just as strongly, but in a different God."
"Last week, at the gay day at the park."

Is it worth it?
Will three or four words sever a relationship?
What you say is irrevocable. The wrong phrase - or email, or text, or glance at a computer screen, or novel - can lead to questions, accusations, consequences.
They might change your life for the worse.

You're better, being your true self. You're living an honest life.
That doesn't mean it's always easy.

Growing up

Baby Eli turned one yesterday, and celebrated by having a grumpy attitude and pouting at me. He's usually such a happy kid, too - no fair!

Kali, who's almost 2 1/2, is in preschool now, two or three days per week, and, according to her mom, loving it. Her sisters are a month into kindergarten.

Patrick and Lilly turn 5 next week. They were still 1 when I met them.

It's hard, being away from the kids I left. I love Eli, but those five in particular - Kali, Laura, Danielle, Patrick, and Lilly - are something special. We keep trying to plan a trip back, but failing. I don't like it. I need to see them soon.

I'm growing up too, I suppose, which is strange. I'm trying to discipline myself to write more. I have the free time, but I can never figure out what to say or how to do it. I'm trying to keep the house cleaner, since I have by far the easiest workload. I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, if there is something I want to pursue.

Growing up is a challenge. I'm sure all my kids would agree.

Friday, September 6, 2013

New phrase

I've been trying a new personal phrase on for size.

"I don't want kids."

It's not something I've ever said. Ever. And I don't know that it's true, or if it is, I doubt it will remain true forever.

But every time I think something longing about a baby, or wish I had one, my brain says, "Eh, I don't think I want kids." And strangely, I don't really argue with it.

Most of this is precipitated by the fact that my depression has been flaring up lately, and so the thoughts of having to go off my medicine while pregnant, combined with the depressive thoughts of what a terrible person I am and what an inept parent I'll be, make it simpler to just forget about having kids.

I've never actually 'claimed' that thought, if you will. But now that I am, I'm finding it relaxing. It's almost like I can go, "Oh, okay, then no worries."

Will I have kids? Probably. This is me we're talking about; never having children would probably be the equivalent of never eating again. So am I lying to myself? It doesn't feel like it. If it becomes a statement that I flinch at, or try to rebut, I'll stop thinking it.

I have to admit, though: this doesn't apply to pregnant women. I still think they're adorable, and I will still grin every time I see one.

How long will this last? Who knows. But it's a fascinating thought experiment for the moment.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In alignment

It's so refreshing to work with parents with whom I agree. Eli is in cloth diapers; he feeds himself; he has some awesome wooden toys. (And some plastic ones. I'm not some sort of purist.) I texted his parents a picture of him sitting on the ground at the tot lot, pinecones piled in his lap and sandy dirt on his legs. His mom's response was "Yay dirt!"

There are little things I'd do differently, of course, but they're minor. After working with Patrick and Lilly's mom until our differences were so exaggerated (I felt like she kept treating them like they were 2, even after their 4th birthday, most notably), being around Eli and his parents is a breath of fresh air.

I don't feel like I have to explain every action I take, or justify it. It's wonderful. It's just me and the baby, hanging out, buying bagels and sippin' along.



Monday, August 26, 2013

No kids today

I love just having Eli. He's so happy, I get along with his parents so well, and my stress level has decreased significantly, at least in regards to work.

V is starting in her classroom this week, which is exciting and overwhelming and unbelievable. It's crazy to watch the past two years come to fruition, as she anticipates twenty preschoolers running around the room that we've carefully set up. She's so ready, though; I worry a little that she'll get overwhelmed, but I know she's going to do amazingly.

Photography has (of course) fallen by the wayside, but hopefully it will resume in the next few months, or at least by next summer. I still dream of coordinating weddings, but have yet to put in the research to get that off the ground.

We bought an adorable used Honda Fit, the cutest little orange car ever, for her to take to work. While the school is only 4 or 5 miles away, doing that by bike or scooter all through the bitter winter would add stress that she doesn't need on top of handling her first classroom. And we're both in love with Clementine - which is what V named her before we even saw her.

Summer has been beautiful here, unseasonably cool, which I'll never complain about. Unfortunately, that makes this hot week feel even worse, but it shouldn't last too long. My allergies have started protesting something or another, and I've been suffering from a pretty bad headache since yesterday - which makes me thankful again that I don't have to worry about Mia. The money was good, but not worth it.

Today I have no children, and a long to-do list of phone calls and research and dishes and entertaining these damn cats (it's harder than it sounds). I miss weekends!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

An ending

A week ago, I called Mia's mom, and told her I was putting in my notice. We weren't a good fit, as I explained; Mia wants someone to play with her at all times, and my specialty lies more in the keeping kids clothed and fed department.

Really, it was both her and her mom who were frustrating me. Additionally, I'd been incredibly stressed and depressed (off and on) since moving, and after giving up this job, it's disappeared: that led me to the realization that I started working with her only a few days after moving up, and that it was the job, not the move, that was causing me such problems.

Now, I'm working with Eli some more, and potentially looking for part-time employment in an office setting. And I feel better about everything. I'm so glad it's over.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A moment of negativity

My ten month old should not be able to play alone better than my four and a half year old.

I've been having some frustrations with Mia and her mom, compounded by the fact that she's out of camp and so I'm watching her more hours. Being me, what I want to do is shut down: shut down my emotions, shut down my involvement, close that door and not look back. Given that that's not fair to anyone, though, I'm waiting it out until we settle more into the preschool schedule.

I'm also trying to adapt to commuting by bicycle, with Mia pulled behind in a trailer. Thankfully the summer has been mild, but I'm not sure it's something I'm cut out for. I feel like a terrible city girl, a terrible green girl, and an all-around wasteful person, but I really just wish they had an extra car.

In short, Eli and I are best buddies for life. Mia and that whole situation makes me want to tear my hair out.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Memories and conversations

Kali's mom texted me a few days ago-
"I was rocking Kali tonight and explained to her that when she was a baby, I rocked her all the time. She told me that Lina rocked her too. So sad!"
I'm not going to lie; I cried when I read that. I miss her as a baby, and I just plain miss her. I'm glad that, at least for now, she still remembers me. I haven't seen her in almost two months.

Also, a few days ago, Mia was curled up with me on the couch, watching Sofia the First. She glanced at my shirt, and commented, "You know, I can kinda see your boobies."
"Yep."
"I guess that's just the kind of shirt it is," she added. Sometimes I love how no-nonsense her mother has raised her.
"Yep."
"So I can lay my head on nice soft and comfy!" she exclaimed.
"Yes, they make good pillows," I laughed. I have this from multiple sources.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

-squeals-

Baby Eli is ten months old today. Yesterday, we were at the tot lot, and a little girl - maybe 18 months? - enthusiastically waved and said bye-bye to him as we were leaving. He lifted his arm in response, and it seemed pretty darn deliberate to me.

I texted his mom and said that I think he just waved bye. Her response was, "Wow! He's been doing something new almost every day."

When I went to leave, a few hours later, I waved bye to him and said it, and he most definitely waved back at me. I grinned at him, his mom clapped, and he scooted* over to me so I picked him up and snuggled him. I handed him back to his mom, went back to the door, and waved and said bye again, to actually leave this time.

Not only did he wave at me, he deliberately said "ba-ba-ba" as he did it, looking at me. OMG you guys. That made my day SO much better. He's officially waving and saying goodbye, and I was the honored first chosen!

Yes, I know that's ridiculous. But life around here has been in a bit of a funk, so it was a wonderful, day-brightening moment. His mom said he waved to daddy on the phone later. I think the phase of more recognizable communication has begun!

*He's one of those kids who scoots rather than crawls on all fours. He can do the latter, but he's much faster at army crawling/scooting. Though lately all he wants to do is cruise.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Anatomy

When I say Mia is a precocious and often quotable child, I mean it.

Last week, she had a toy bird, who was pecking at my arm.
In the bird's voice, Mia says, "Mmm, blood vessels!"

Not just blood, mind you. Blood vessels.

Then she takes a comb and scrapes at my arm, saying, "I have to scrape the skin to get to the blood vessels."

Mildly creepy, yes. Cool points? A thousand.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Playground chatter

There's a lot rolling around in my head right now about helicopter parenting and the ideas of letting kids explore their own boundaries, but the frustration of dealing with the former and the importance of the latter were brought home today when I was listening to parents yell out to their kids, while Mia was running around the park after preschool camp.

"Don't go in the sand!"
"That's too high; get down from there."
"Come back to this side of the playground so I can see you."
"Don't get your clothes all messy."
"Put your shoes back on!"
"Stop running; you'll trip and break something."

Some things parents and caretakers remind kids of are serious: don't throw mulch at people; there's lightning so we need to leave. But clothes getting messy? That's what playgrounds are for.

Mia, meanwhile, is running around barefoot, dress dirty, hanging upside-down from the monkey bars. At least her underwear matches her dress?

I may not be the best. In fact, I know I'm not. But I hope I err on the side of too much freedom instead of too little.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mia's chatter

While I was spinning her on a tire swing, Mia dizzily looked at me and said, "I feel like a glooooooobe!"

Thought that was pretty insightful, since most of the 4 1/2 year olds I know would probably stick with "ball" or a similar analogy.

We also had a great conversation, when I tried to remember how her mom had referred to her dad.
Me: I think your dad might be home when we get back. What do you call him?
Mia: Daddy.
Me: Oh, I thought your mom called him something else.
Mia: Well, she calls him Sweetie. But Sweetie doesn't get home until later.

And the first four days I watched her:
Mia: Can you whistle?
Me: Eh, a little, not really.
Mia: Can you try?
Me: (whistles a little)
Mia: That was pretty good!
(Her mom is a counselor. She's got a lot of positive talk that comes out, which is both cute and awesome.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Updates around the homestead

I don't actually mean around the literal homestead, although plenty of "updates" are going on here, with trying to sort out our living space. But on this lil blog, I've updated both the "The Kids" and "About Me" pages (just under the title), to hopefully better reflect my actual life. I'll write more details (read: posts) about Mia and Eli soon, but at the moment, it's too hot to do anything but sit in front of a fan with my eyes closed.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Baby time

Watching a 9 month old has put me back on baby time. For once I'm not talking about my baby cravings, though those have been predominant lately. What this fellow has been giving me is a perspective that I haven't had in awhile.

Each. Blade. Of. Grass. Is. Fascinating.
Oh. My. God. A. Stick.

It's adorable, and mind-numbing, and eye-opening, and I'll confess that sometimes I sit and play on my phone while he pokes the same squishy block over and over. But he's just learned how to pull himself to standing, with a little cruising on the side, and things really are an adventure.

I'll update more soon, about both him and the 4.5 year old girl I watch in the afternoons. I'm working a lot of hours, but so far I'm happy with it. Two really good families. I'm having a strong desire for familiarity that hits often, since this is my first city change in three years...but this move is ideal.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

!!!

Damn it feels good to be married.

Don't get me wrong; V and I have been married for over two years, and we were legally married (not that weddings that occurred in states where it wasn't legal weren't legit).

But the erasure of all the technicalities is immense. No more listing as single on federal forms. No more pausing to try to figure out which employment papers are for the organization (and so can have married as the status) and which ones go to the government (and so can't), like I wrestled with for V's summer job. No more separate taxes. No more fear of end of life care defaulting to our parents.

No, I'm not naive enough to think it's all roses from here. But right in this moment, all I want to do is celebrate.

I shouldn't be this excited about taxes, but dammit, I am.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Popping in

We're here, our heads are mostly above water, and I'm starting with two new families at the end of this week!

I'll have a 4.5 year old girl three days a week, and an 8 month old boy two to three days a week. I'll give more details later, but for now, just know I'm in love with both of the families, and the kids are lots of fun. And I'll get hands-on experience with cloth diapers!

I still have eight thousand places online to change our address. Think, think, think.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

More potties

I was accidentally tricked into potty training again, though not in as malicious a way as that sounds. Kali, Danielle, and Laura's mom is taking a 3-day teacher recertification class, so I'm on day 2 of 8-hour days with these three. Thankfully Kali still naps for the last hour and a half, and her sisters go upstairs for quiet time at the tail end.

Last weekend, their parents decided to do a potty training boot camp with Kali, so off came the diapers, on went the undies, and life has proceeded as close to normal as it can. This child has a bladder of steel; she held it for 6 hours yesterday. Today we've had one accident and one success.

But really, the families I'm talking to in our new location I specifically chose because the kids weren't potty training age - one is too young, the other well past it. I guess this is my send-off from this baby, though. Yippee?

My "plan" was to become over-saturated on these three, so it wouldn't be as hard to say goodbye. Leaving will still be difficult, but the saturation part is taking effect, at least at the moment. I'm ready to go home. Instead, I have writing to do.

Last night we said goodbye to two families, including Bug and Andrew's. Their parents made us dinner, and then their mom started crying when we went to leave, which almost set V and I off. We feel so much like family - she was talking about how we were, and how we've known Andrew since he was born - and it's hard leaving family behind, family that I'm actually really attached to.

Tonight, we go say goodbye to Patrick and Lilly's family, but the kids are coming over (with their new nanny, who I like) for a playdate tomorrow, which should both make tomorrow better and make it easier to say goodbye to them for real without their mom hovering over us.

And then, we move.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New horizons

Looking for childcare positions when we moved here was a bit of a challenge, but I at least could go and meet the families. I've been doing long-distance research for part-time positions in our new location; I miss the days of being able to schedule a meeting and know right away whether it was a potential or not.

I've had two phone conversations now, with two different families. I won't be able to meet with them for another week and a half to two weeks, which is frustrating, but at least both seem promising. I might even be able to make both work out, which would be a great thing financially. If both work out, I'd be starting with 25 hours per week total, working up to 35-40--more than I've ever done, with childcare, but I think a fresh start might make that doable.

Oh, and both positions are for singletons. That's sure to help. I'm not sure, aside from times with Kali, I've ever only watched one kid at a time, regularly. Not saying it'll be a breeze (parents of one, don't hate me), but certainly a change from juggling two or three.

V and I are going to work on rebranding the photography business for the new environs, and I'm hoping to follow up on a quiet dream of mine to do event/wedding coordination on the side. I'm excited about the prospects, and about new kids. (Of course, Kali was a whiny grump today, so that might be a small part, but you should know I'm not honestly that fickle.) And, well, making money will be nice.

A few more weeks, then the world turns upside-down. Though it feels like it already has, with the half-packed (who am I kidding: 1/10 of the way packed) house and all the sold furniture. So much to do..

Friday, May 31, 2013

Priorities and tone

I took Patrick and Lilly out for ice cream last night, and before we left, we watered the flowers in the front yard. They each have a little watering can, plus there's a big one that I can use to follow behind them and, you know, actually make sure each plant gets water. Their dad was finishing up mowing the lawn and putting things back in order while we did this, and their mom was inside packing for their impending beach vacation.

As Lilly walked onto the mulch to get at flowers close to the tree planted there, her dad exploded. He frequently berates the kids, and now that I'm not around it as much, I forget how much it pierces my heart.

"Lilly! Get out of the mulch! Look, you're stepping on all the flowers. See, there used to be a flower there, but you killed it, because you're tromping around in there."

I wish I was kidding.
She tried to explain that she was watering the plants. That didn't matter. No, he wasn't furious; he didn't hit her or scream. But I saw her face.

She's four and a half. I saw the crushed disappointment of a little girl who is being berated by her daddy. And then I saw what I know will come back to bite her parents - I saw the set jaw, the hard eyes, the stiff posture of a girl who's trying not to care. Who's closing off. Who's retreating inside herself.

I wanted to slap some sense into her father. He was too wrapped up in his flowers (in the appearance of his house, and life, truth be told) to notice what he did to his daughter.

But I saw it. And I can't quell the ache I've had since.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A good match

My dad stopped by the other day, as he was passing through on a longer trip. We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, shopping for a graduation present for V, eating delicious barbecue, and having daddy-daughter time that I've missed.

He mentioned something about my brother and his wife thinking that they're ready to start trying for kids, and my response was that I always thought he, my brother, wanted to be the cool uncle rather than the dad. (Well, that was my audible response. My internal one had more to do with the fact that my sister-in-law annoys me, and they're both hyper-religious.)

After I said that, my dad commented that my brother has changed a lot since getting married (almost 3 years ago), and his wife was a really good match for him. I'd agree that my brother has changed, but I think most of the changes have been negative (see: hyper-religious).

That aside, it occurred to me that never, absolutely never, will my father tell me I made a good match, or that V is the perfect complement to me. Sure, he's not around us much, whereas he lives half an hour from my brother and sister-in-law, but still: anyone can see we are a good match, and he's known her for upwards of 5 years, technically.

But to admit that she's good for me is to admit that the fact that she's a girl doesn't matter. It's to admit he was wrong that girls are never good matches for girls. And if there's one thing my father never does, it's admit he was wrong.

Honestly, this doesn't even hurt all that much, and in many ways, that's the worst part. I've cried over my father plenty in the past few years; don't get me wrong, I'm glad to not be crying any more. But the feeling of resignation that I have now is almost worse. It's just a subtle reminder that I'll never be equal, even though I'll always be his princess.

He didn't even say anything about V and me. But that's just it. He never will.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Future hope

We're moving in 3 1/2 weeks. V's family was here for graduation last weekend, and it went alright, though we're very glad to have the house back to ourselves.

I've seen Kali twice this week, yesterday and today, and both days I've struggled to not be emotional. I texted V, "Can we have one that I won't have to give up?" I don't know what it is about her in particular, other than the fact that I've been fairly involved with her since she was a few weeks old, but she's definitely going to keep part of my heart here.

In general, though, I'm looking forward to moving. A new start, a new place, a new source of income. No new cats!

And it will be the end of this dreadful school-ness. Right now, V is in the home stretch of a 2 week intensive science course, plus another 5-week Montessori course, plus she has to write her master's thesis. At the end of that, it's over. All over.

We realized that she's been in school since two months after we got married. No wonder I don't feel like I have a wife, sometimes. I'm ready to have one. And a life, again. It's been rough. Here's to improvement, in a few more weeks.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Double duty

Last week, V needed something to take to class for their end-of-semester potluck; unfortunately, we've both been insanely busy, with graduation this weekend, summer classes starting yesterday, and the imminent move. The day of class, I had to watch Kali, Laura, and Danielle for most of the day, greatly limiting my chances to get anything else done.

Until I hit upon the solution. Cooking with kids, always great, right? It's honestly not one of my favorite activities; it tends to fall in my too-large category of "I can do this better by myself, so just let me, please." But, I thought, something simple could actually be a great idea. No-bakes (called preacher cookies if you're V's family) require stirring, melting, stirring, plopping, and freezing. Two five year olds and a very opinionated two year old should be able to handle that--or rather, I should be able to handle them.

Then V reminded me that Danielle is highly allergic to nuts. Right. Off I went in search of a peanut-butter-free no-bake recipe. I ended up finding this one, and we went with it. I upped the recipe by half, so there would be enough for V to take and to leave with Kali & Co, and it definitely made plenty of cookies. I also put an entire bag of chocolate chips in, which probably wasn't necessary, and made it very chocolatey, but...yum!

What was fun was that making 1.5 recipes meant most measurements divided by 3, so each girl could get a scoop of whatever ingredient it was (or I'd hand Kali a full scoop and let her dump) to put in. We had a blast. Remarkably, the two big girls spooned out the entire batch of goodness onto wax paper. I gave them each a bowl and a spoon, set them on stools in front of the counter, and replenished their bowls as necessary. They did all the hard work, and loved it! It didn't matter at all that the cookies weren't exactly shaped like circles or even similarly-sized chunks; I was just grateful they were enjoying themselves. I'll eat no-bakes no matter what shape...

Kali mixing cocoa into butter, sugar, and milk

I texted their mom that this was better than the OT they'd gone to earlier

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Picture interlude

Cute pictures don't quite make up for a total lack of posts, but, well, grad school. It's the acceptable answer to any shirking of other responsibilities--even if I'm not the one in it. Graduation is in a month, people! You have no idea how exciting this is.

In other news, Kali turns 2 on Saturday. "My" baby is getting so big, and is a little bit of a prodigy, if I say so myself. Love that kid.




Monday, March 25, 2013

Quotes

I promise I haven't disappeared again. This past Saturday, a friend was in town, and we took Patrick and Lilly to the zoo in the morning. Some great one-liners happened, per usual. They're 4 1/2 now, and so very capable, social, and independent. It blows my mind to think of them a year or two years ago!

Patrick: I was thinking, when were you going to get here?!
Me: You were a bit impatient? It can be hard to wait.
Patrick: I was un-patient. There wasn't any patience in me.

Zoo worker to Lilly: That's not a manatee; that's a catfish.
(To be fair, it was dark gray and fat, so did look somewhat like a miniature manatee.)

Me, in the bathroom with the kids: You don't need to unzip your coats to go potty. [Lilly already is.] Or you can, and you can just zip it back up after.
Lilly: I can't really zip it up, so you'll have to do that after I'm done.

And the priceless moment of Patrick slipping his hand into mine and not letting go.
Now that I don't see them nearly as often, my love for those kids is coming back.
They're great kids.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Respect

When I offered the example of two girls at one's rehearsal dinner yesterday, I didn't touch on what I think is another core point of how their relationships seemed to work. I realize that I'm projecting, and I don't know either of the couples in question nearly well enough to make judgments, but what I heard was a distinct lack of respect.

Growing up, I was taught a basic dichotomy. Girls needed love, while guys needed respect. Sure, guys needed love too, and girls would appreciate respect, but the central need was different. I felt very out of place for years; while I dreamed of the magical experience of falling in love, I felt like I could survive without it. Respect, however, was my driving aim. I worked hard, I focused on being the best, all to earn the respect of my parents and those around me. What did this mean? Was I messed up, or mis-wired?

In the intervening years I've come to realize that, like with many other things, the evangelical church grossly over-simplifies matters and (incorrectly, I believe) divides them by gender. Love and respect are crucial to anyone's happiness, though in different amounts at different times. What does this have to do with relationship styles?

When I hear, "You are not going to go out and get drunk tonight," my brain translates that to something along the lines of, "I do not trust you to make your own intelligent decisions, so I'm laying down the law for you." I don't hear respect, or even honoring the other person as an individual. And it makes me shudder, quite honestly.

If a wife talks to a husband, or a boyfriend talks to a girlfriend, or any combination of supposed-equals communicates in a way that reminds me of a parent talking to a child, I have to hide a grimace. When kids are young, they need rules, and mandates, and order (though every parent has a different view on how much, etc). As they grow, these can relax, to allow the child to develop a sense of independence; as maturity happens, children gain the faculties to judge for themselves what behavior is and isn't okay for themselves and their fellow humans.

So why, often, does it seem like entering into a committed relationship takes one or both people back a few steps, to the days of someone else making their decisions? If I respect you, I will respect the choices that you make (and if I disagree with them, I will explain why, not try to prohibit them). Treating you as incapable of being an intelligent, rational human being is disrespectful on my part, and demeaning to you.

What examples have you seen of respect or lack thereof in relationships? How important is it to you? Were you taught the love is for girls, respect is for boys trope as a child, and do you agree with it?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Foundations

A conversation with V the other day enunciated what I think is the core of our relationship, and how we function. When we were at a friend's wedding a few weeks back, both the bride-to-be and another, married friend were talking at the rehearsal dinner about things they won't let their fiances/husbands do.

The bride-to-be told her fiance, who was sitting next to her, that he was absolutely not going to go out and get drunk that night; he was going to get a decent amount of sleep because his wedding was the next day. The other girl chimed in with the prohibitions she'd put on her now-husband before their ceremony, and - with an eye roll - recounted how he hadn't listened.

V and I were both blown away. At the core of our relationship, though I think it's actually been unstated until recently, is the simple idea that I do not control her, and she does not control me. We have exactly no right to tell each other what to do.

I didn't realize how revolutionary this was, until listening to these girls talk. V is technically my only relationship; I don't have a background for how other relationships go. I just know what makes sense for us, and what we've made work. And it comes down to the idea of autonomy. Just because I've promised to be with her forever doesn't mean I've promised to give up my independence.

What our arrangement (implicit as it was) comes down to is this: I cannot tell V that she can or cannot do something. I can, however, tell her how it makes me feel when she does/doesn't, and trust that her care for me will cause her to act in a way that results in my happiness.

I wouldn't tell her, "You can't go out to dinner with her tonight!"; I would say, "I know she invited you to dinner, but I've felt really lonely all day, and I'd love it if we could have some us time," or, "Could you maybe just go out for coffee and be back in an hour? I miss you and feel like I haven't seen you much lately." Yes, this runs the risk of my feelings and desires being disregarded; I hope to always have the trust in her that I do, though, which tells me she will not idly discount those emotions.

I want to make it clear that I'm not holding us up as some sort of paragon. This takes gut honesty, courage, and being very, very real, and it's far from easy - though it certainly gets easier with practice. But I think it's a more healthy way to be together, because the motivation for doing or not doing something is your desire for your partner's happiness, not a restriction placed on you.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Do you find yourself or those you interact with tending toward dictating their partner's lives? Are there horror stories of arbitrary mandates that you can turn my stomach with?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lurking

I suppose it looks like I vanished again, but I promise I didn't. V and I went out of town for our anniversary, and had an absolutely delightful time. We stayed in a real, live hotel! That always makes me feel luxurious. Plus, I got to watch Jeopardy twice. That's always a highlight of hotels. (I'm strange; I know.)

It's difficult to be back, when we know we're relocating in a few short months, and all our attention and energy is focused on that. I should do the very present problem of the dishes, but I'd much rather go through the craft room and mark things to get rid of before the move. And so on.

Also, our dear little orange fluffernutter kitty is shockingly obese. The other two are thin as rails, so I don't even know what to do with this mound of orange fur. Except try to stop her from eating. At all.

Life rolls on, toward graduation, toward moving, toward a new start. Is it possible for me to be a lurker on my own blog? I'll work on something interesting I can share.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Expressions

Last Saturday, I watched Patrick and Lilly for the first time in close to a month. Patrick has finally broken his pacifier habit (which he'd still had for naps and bed), and he got to pick out bedding as a reward. His crib sheets were always white or light green, until he got a yellow-and-white pinstripe (and Lilly had a matching pink-and-white pinstripe). Now his bed is decked out like he really wants it-


After two years in first place, yellow has conceded to pink as Patrick's favorite color. His Easter shirt is pastel pink (with an awesome bowtie); he and Lilly have matching pink Hello Kitty toothbrushes; his dance tights (yes they are both in ballet) are pink.

I don't know if his parents are allowing him to express more, or if he's more comfortable expressing more, or what--but it's awesome. He's already such a sweet, fun kid, and now he's super cool on top of that. I mean, how great is it that his bed is Minnie Mouse?

They were talking about going on trips, and how they switch beds when they're traveling - they each have little mini air mattresses. "Because he likes princesses," Lilly said, "and I like cars."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Unfathomably tiny

Laura and Danielle, Kali's older sisters, are miracle babies. They were born at 24 weeks 2 days, and each weight 1 pound 6 ounces, 12 inches long.

Two weeks ago, they turned 5. They're still tiny, but they've thrived. They're full of life and energy and personality.

I met them just before they turned 3. I can't believe it's been over two years, and at the same time, I can't imagine knowing them before that. Knowing the incredibly tough road their parents walked, months spent in the NICU not honestly knowing what would happen, having already lost the other triplet.

Kali is in many ways the completion of their family, but the "big girls" - such a misnomer, as Kali is only a few pounds behind them, despite the 3 year age gap - are the heart and soul of that family. They've been involved with March of Dimes and other organizations since the beginning.

They are miracle children.

For their birthday, a banner hung on the hearth with memorabilia clipped to it. Onesies, hats, and diapers, from the early days. I can't imagine anyone fitting into them, not even a baby doll. Much less my own daughters.

Here's to the bravest, strongest girls I know.

The cuteness that runs my life

I have an iphone, now. You can guess where this is going. So many pictures of Kali, and so many pictures of cats. Join me!
Kali has so much hair now that I did this yesterday.
So now she looks like even more of an imp that she already does.

Reading Time magazine, apparently.

I kind of want this outfit for me.
Latke and Calcifer are snuggle buddies. And sometimes I wonder how they can breathe.

They come in orange! I love the orange one. So sweet.

Seriously. I am ridiculously in love with Latke.

How could I not be?!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Checking in

I always told myself that if I decided to stop blogging, I would post about it, instead of just slithering off into semi-accidental silence. Apparently, 5 weeks later, I have decided to come back, prompted by two very sweet messages from readers.

And what has been happening in the past month-ish? Everything, and more of the same. There has been so much writing for work that I haven't had the desire to write here; I think that might be settling down some, at least for the moment. I've been with Kali two or three days per week. She's 22 months now, and starting to turn into a 2 year old - though still as adorable as ever. I'll put up a picture or two soon.

V is trying not to drown in grad school, and get her resume perfect so she can send it out. We've settled on where we want to move! So this summer, everything will be in transition, but we are insanely excited. I'm very ready to go, and am resisting the urge to go ahead and get rid of a bunch of stuff. We're slowly working our way through the house.

So, people of the Internet: I'm up for writing more. But I'm not with children nearly as much, which was much of the original focus of this blog. If you want me to keep writing, what sort of things are you interested in seeing? I thrive on feedback! (Says the writing major.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Humdrum

Life goes on, around here. I have a few days of intense babysitting (usually just Kali), and then get freelance work piled on. I'm in the middle of writing an email for a ceramics designer, describing wall art canvases, and piecing together an article about hiring practices. Never gets boring...well, yes, it does, but at least it's on to the next thing soon.

I saw Patrick and Lilly on Monday, for a short visit. It disturbs me in some ways how easily I've separated from them, how much I didn't want to go. All in all, it's a relief, once I convince myself that it doesn't mean I never loved them, etc. Their mom emailed me to ask if I could watch them either Monday or Wednesday evening next week; I haven't responded, but I flipped through my calendar, noted I was free both evenings, and thought, "Eh, maybe. We'll see."

I'm cutting back on childcare. I still love kids, but I'm done. Bug and Andrew's mom wants me once weekly, and honestly, I think I'm going to say no. It feels strange for me. But every time I watch kids, lately, I'm just counting down until I'm done. Kali (and her sisters) are the exception, as I've become good friends with their mom, and there's just something about that baby. Aside from her, though, I could pretty much stop all babysitting tomorrow with no problem.

I've come a long way in two and a half years, huh? I like this place I'm in--except the times that I have to watch kids, but as I said, those are becoming less and less. Especially as V and I look to hopefully move this summer, it's nice to be separated already. I'm content, in a place I never thought I'd be in, much less content in. It's a good feeling.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fortnight

It's been almost two weeks since my last post, but I have plenty of legitimate excuses. V and I have been having a blast, visiting my parents (mostly a blast, some awkward moments), and then skipping around the city we hope to live in after she graduates.

Now that it's back to the rush of work, I can procrastinate by blogging! V is off to her first day at her new school, for her second semester of interning; I am back to writing about boring topics, but doing so from the comfort of my robe and my couch. I'm so thrilled to be able to have a mobile job, where I don't have to stress about finding one when we move.

I'm watching Kali once if not twice per week, for this semester, but otherwise staying pretty away from kids. I've reached the point of just being done. V and I watched Bug and Andrew on Saturday, and both came away with a sense of "This chunk of life needs to end." We just aren't invested anymore. Now with Kali, she's my baby. There's no denying that. But most everyone else...

I'm almost disturbed by how easily I separated from Patrick and Lilly. V says that just means it was time; I think I believe her. I need to go over there and pick up my house key (they checked on the cats while we were gone), and I don't want to. I think I just want to be done. Which doesn't bode well for the fact that I'm watching them for 2 days in two weeks. Sigh.

Okay, to my real writing! Or...to snuggle a cat, or something.