Thursday, July 24, 2014

now it's really personal

Let's file this one under 'stupid things I've done.'

See also: the problem with transients continues.

I've been sick with a cold all week. (The kids have it now too, yay!). Late Tuesday afternoon I was tired, sick, and ready for J to come home. Ainsleigh was crying in her crib because I set her down for a moment to check on Bennett who was yelling in the living room.

When I walked into the living room I saw the transients that have been hanging around walking down the street. I tended to Bennett, went to check on Ainsleigh - who was still mad about having to take a nap - then went back to the living room.

I looked out the front window and saw a man standing at the corner of our yard on the sidewalk. Then I saw a second man out the side window and nearly had a heart attack. Our trash cans (along with our next door neighbor's) are tucked between our house and the neighbor's. I didn't think anyone would have the nerve to walk up the path, past our picture window, and down the walk to where they are. But someone did.

I know what it means to see red now.

I grabbed my phone and flew out the front door, shutting it firmly behind me so Bennett couldn't follow.

"Please get off my property." I said to the guy on the sidewalk.

He held his hands up in the air. "I'm not on your property, m'am," he said in a mocking tone. 

Then he repeated it.

So I started yelling.

You know how your kids push and push and push on certain issues? How you start with, "please stop pushing your sister," then try, "you need to stop pushing your sister or ..." then go to, "stop pushing your sister, you need to control your body," and after about fifteen rounds of this you hit this stage: stop. pushing. your. sister. And your voice is calm with fury, which makes it even scarier, and your toddler scampers away to play quietly for a few minutes because he knows he's gone too far.

That was this situation. I've been pushed and pushed and pushed on the issue and I had had enough. Only I hit the opposite end of the scale. I deployed the "scream like a fishwife" method instead of the (likely better) calm fury method.

And the yelling went something like this:


The second guy came down the path next to the house with two cans in his hand. He held them up. "I was just getting cans, m'am." he said in a wounded voice. He had on his best pathetic/sad face.

NO! I yelled from the front step. YOU. CAN'T. GO. BACK. THERE. GET. OFF. MY. PROPERTY. NOW!

All of my yelling - and pointing, there was an awful lot of that - attracted the attention of a third man across the street who was digging in a neighbor's trash. When he began to cross the street I noticed the long piece of wood in his hand and finally thought about my safety. I scurried back into the house and called the police.

I had a nice long talk with an officer about the problem. I asked him to find the men, which he hasn't been able to. I haven't seen them for a couple days, but the weather has been poor. I'm sure they'll be back.

The police officer said they're a problem. That he's trying to get them off the streets, but the jails are full, a lot of people won't press charges (they just want them gone) and the rescue mission won't take them in anymore because they're drunk all the time.

And I'm the smart mama who hollered from the porch step when they came near the house instead of calmly taking a picture from inside the house and calling the police immediately so they had a hope of catching them.

In my defense seeing a man on the side of the house where we spend most of our time scared the living tar out of me. At least once a day I ask Bennett to sit in the corner and read or play quietly while I put Ainsleigh to bed. It scares me to think about him sitting there with strange guys on the other side of the window:

For those of you who are reading this and thinking, "MOVE!" I wish that was an option. But we're just not in a place to make that happen right now. We've lived here six years and this is the first time we've had problems like this.

One neighbor said, "we need to be outside more, make them feel uncomfortable because they are the ones who don't belong." I like that idea, but right now I'm a little bit anxious/scared about the whole thing. I need a few more days before I'll feel comfortable taking the kids on the walk, or letting them play out front.

I've thought up about 3,000 ways my impetuous behavior might come back to bite me, but I really hope I showed enough anger they'll think twice about coming around in the future. I always, always, always want to show the love I have for Jesus through my actions, but I didn't do a very good job of that this week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

thank you ... woman! {update on the kids}

Bennett is in an intensely adorable phase of language development. Everything is "handsome" and "fancy" right now. As in, "check out my handsome dance!" Or, "that's a fancy shirt!" The day he stops calling helicopters "hopper coppers" I will cry. Bennett uses "cool" and "awesome" a lot too, only his "cool" comes out as "kewl." He's struggling with his double 'o words right now, but the result is really cute.

We've been on the road a lot this summer. On one trip through the Burgerville drive-thru (what would we do without Burgerville?!) J placed our order to which the server said, "Your total is ----, thank you!" And then Bennett's little voice piped up from the backseat, "thank you! ........ woman!" J and I laughed so hard at Bennett's attempt to be kind.

This morning Bennett asked me if I like the color red. I said yes, then asked if he likes it. (His favorite questions right now are, "what's your favorite color?" and "how was your day?" so we answer those two things five thousand times a day.) "I like red." Bennett responded, then he paused and reconsidered. "In fact, I like purple," he said.

In fact? Where did he learn that phrase?!

Bennett's speech and language is advanced for his age. Our audiologist commented on how well she can hear and understand him (she is deaf in one ear). His grasp of words and the complex sentences he strings together surprise me every day.

Remember when he looked just like Ainsleigh?

Ainsleigh is busy and loud. I think that is what I will remember most about her babyhood. Was she ever a newborn? I feel like she's been scooting around for months. And isn't it weird how difficult it is to remember a time before they existed? I remember last summer, of course, when the anxiety of Ainsleigh's pregnancy sat heavily on my shoulders, but now the memories are hazy and indistinct. It seems like she's always been here - exploring and squawking.

I took the kids to story time at the library last week. There were a lot of kids Ainsleigh's age, but she was the loudest by far. Other parents were staring. Her hearing loss has nothing to do with it. She's just really loud. Queen Squawkers. Our sweet, sweet girl.

The hearing aid is still a daily battle. I put it in. Ainsleigh rips it out. I put it in. She tolerates it, which gives me a little hope, then rips it out. I have to outlast her, which is really hard because she is so stubborn and determined. My motivation lies in knowing we aren't hurting her, and sticking with it now may help her language develop.

Ainsleigh has her first tooth coming in at eight months, just like her brother. She is slowly starting to hands and knees crawl, but she prefers army crawling because she can move so fast. Ainsleigh likes to stand, walk with assistance, and is just starting to cruise along the furniture a little. She'll be nine months in a week!

Next up for Ainsleigh: walking.

Next up for Bennett: toilet training, which I know is not going to be an easy process because he too has a stubborn streak. I'm going to try and refrain from sharing too much about the journey because I want him to like me when he's 15, but I'm a little nervous about it all!

Monday, July 21, 2014

now it feels personal

J's car window was smashed this weekend. Nothing was stolen - he hardly had anything inside - but the driver's side window was bashed in.

It likely happened Saturday morning after we left for the day. I know we'll probably never know who did it, but I have a good idea.

Our neighborhood has had a group of transients hanging around for the past month and a half. We've had transients in the area before. They usually ask for cans, or look in the recycling bins along the curb on trash day, which doesn't bother me at all, but this group has been pushing boundaries for weeks. It's all men, up to six of them, and they walk around with golf clubs, PVC pipe and crowbars. They drink openly, trespass - even after they've been asked to stay out of driveways - and wander aimlessly around.

I called the police a week and a half ago because they were trespassing on a neighbor's property. They walked waaaay up the driveway, past where I could see them, and didn't reappear for five long minutes. The police said they couldn't do anything because it wasn't my property.

Now we have a car without a window. And we have limited insurance on J's car, which means we have to cover the repair costs ($260! but J can likely do it himself for under $100).

The police were inundated with calls about the men this weekend. They were trying to break into empty homes (in broad daylight!). I really hope the phone calls make a difference, that they stay out of our neighborhood. Although, I don't want them to harass someone else!

I've always felt safe and comfortable in our neighborhood. Now I think twice about going on a walk with the kids, and I make sure I have my phone with me. My response to most situations is, "show love," but in this case I'm having a hard time with that! I'm angry, frustrated, and annoyed.

We had a good weekend, but it ended on a sour note when I finally realized the broken car window the neighbors were discussing was ours (my synapses are slooow right now). Hopefully the problems end now, but every time I feel relief because I haven't seen the group for a while they reappear.

What would you do?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I want you here

I had to go to the dentist this morning for a small filling. It was by far the best dentist visit of my life. J recommended we switch to this dentist, and I am so glad he did. The filling was done with air abrasion, which doesn't require a shot, and because it was so small it only took five minutes. Five minutes! And I didn't feel a thing!

Since my mom had the kids I decided to take a few moments after the appointment and go to Target and Old Navy (conveniently located across the street). Between Target and Old Navy was a small Christian bookstore. I wandered in to see if they had a worship CD for kids I've been looking for and ended up buying two albums.

I really needed a little break. I always need a little break. I feel bad admitting it, but taking care of two kids has me at capacity most days. I know moms with six who seem to have an easier time than me, but I'm really trying to stop comparing. SO - two kids + me = emotional capacity most days. Owning that truth.

I wandered a little, I bought a few things, and on my way out of Target I bought a soft pretzel, one of my favorite treats. J thinks they're disgusting, but I don't understand what's not to love: dough + salt. And probably a fair amount of sugar too. They are perfection. And they remind me of my childhood. My best friend's mom would buy huge boxes of soft pretzels from Costco. We would walk out to the chilly garage in our stocking feet, crack open the ancient chest freezer, and haul out the huge box. We would eat warm pretzels and watch cable television shows; two things I didn't have access to at my house.

When I got in the car I decided to listen to the Plumb CD I bought on the way home. I was just passing the Jefferson exit when one of the songs nearly made me drive off the road. I sent the track back to the beginning and turned the volume up. I listened to the song once. Then again. And again.

I wanna scream
Is this a dream?
How could this happen,
Happen to me?
This isn't fair
This nightmare
This kind of torture
I just can't bear
I want you here
I want you here

When I got home I found this video on YouTube: (don't listen to the song here, it's terrible, just watch the intro to the song)

Listen to the full song here:

This is it. It's exactly how I felt when Charlotte died.

I waited so long
For you to come
Then you were here
And now you're gone
I was not prepared
For you to leave me
Oh this is misery

I want you here, Charlotte.

I love them

but I want you here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

from scratch (help needed!)

Every time I crack open a jar of spaghetti sauce I think, I should really make this from scratch."

I've conquered a lot of items on my "I'll never be able to make this" list, but spaghetti sauce is really daunting for some reason. I make pizza sauce from scratch! Well, kind-of. I buy canned tomato sauce and paste, so I guess that doesn't really count.

I have a lot of questions about making spaghetti sauce:

What tomatoes are best?

What else do you add?

How long do you cook it?

What's your process?

How do you store it?

Making spaghetti sauce is probably a task that requires a little trial and error. I need time to get in the kitchen and figure out what to do, but there isn't time for much of anything right now.

I recently finished reading Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss, which made me feel like we need to cut back even more on processed foods (absolutely eating a bowl of ice cream while I type this ...).

I remember our early married years when taco night involved a seasoning mix and pre-made shells from the store. Now I make tortillas and the seasoning, and while I'd like to drop kick the tortillas down the street they taste good and it's not too difficult. I have a feeling spaghetti sauce will be the same story once I figure out a good recipe.

And if I really get a handle on the process I'll plant tomatoes in the garden next year so I can harvest them then make sauce. I love the complete cycle - from garden to food - and I love when it takes place in our yard, but it is difficult to do and very time consuming. Thus the invention of processed pre-made foods!

If you make sauce from scratch please share your process!

Monday, July 14, 2014

church with tiny ones

When someone says, "hey, I haven't seen you at church for a while!" my standard response is, "we've switched to the Saturday night service." But I think my response should be, "we've switched to the Saturday night service, however, you still might not see me. Try the cry room, or the nursing mothers room, or the bathroom next to the lobby with the changing table. I can often be found pacing the lobby too!"

We missed three weeks of church so last Saturday we were determined to go. It's hard to go at night because 6:00 is Ainsleigh's usual bedtime, but I really like how small the group is, and how much time it opens up for us on Sunday.

Bennett goes back and forth on going to class. Saturday night is hard because birth thru three is in one room. On Sundays there is a nursery, ones, twos, threes class etc. He doesn't know the teachers Saturday night, and there usually aren't kids he knows (all of his friends are older) so getting him to go in is often a major battle. 

This particular week went really well. All four of us ended up in the cry room. It was hot, Bennett was really acting out, Ainsleigh was fussy, and everyone was grumpy. I was trying to pay attention to the sermon, but Bennett had to be placed in time out a few times, and J was trying to help with Ainsleigh who was either fussing, or crawling all over the room.

I was really frustrated. Why do we even try? I wondered. I could be hot and frustrated at home. And maybe if we were at home Ainsleigh would be sleeping!

I know it's important to go to church. I know we go because we need spiritual food and encouragement. And we want to set a good example for the kids. We want them to have a Biblical foundation from the very beginning.

But it's hard.

And I absolutely understand why some families don't go to church for a few years.

I am grateful for the facilities our church provides. It is nice to have the cry room available, and to be able to hear and see the sermon from it.

But that doesn't take away from the difficulty factor. It doesn't make the screaming toddler outside the Sunday school classroom easier to manage.

In a couple years it will be a lot easier, but right now it's hard.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


I was preparing dinner in the kitchen while Ainsleigh played in the dining room and Bennett ran around outside with J. Ainsleigh fussed so I stepped into the dining room and swung her up onto my hip.

"What's the matter, baby girl? What you fussing for?" I asked as I walked back into the kitchen.

As I calmed her down I leaned forward to grab something off the stove. I do this three thousand times a week, but this evening it all seemed strange to me. Strange as in - how did I end up here, with two kids? I'm 30 years old and we are settled.

Really settled.

Invested in our community, and the life we've built.

J's job hasn't changed for years. We've lived in this house for a few years. We have friends, church, family, babies, and a great life.

I still feel young. I still feel unsure and uncertain about a lot of things. Perhaps those feelings never go away. But I also feel like I have most things figured out.

I was talking to my mom today about some gossipy shenanigans. I told her, "I'm not interested in that. I don't want to be involved. I have my close friends and I don't care about that."

I don't want to waste my time trying to make people like me. I don't want to worry about acting or being or looking a certain way.

I'm settled and I'm happy.

Despite ... 

yes, yes, even though there is always that space of longing.

Still so present after four years I can't write about being happy without mentioning it lest you think I've forgotten.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

long summer days and parking tickets

Summer is my least favorite season. I don't like the heat. Our entire family doesn't like the heat. As J says, "we are heat intolerant." We just are. B's first summer he threw up because he overheated. The boys don't sweat much, which leads to upset stomachs and sometimes, vomiting. I just put a very sweaty headed Ainsleigh to bed, so I know she at least has the sweating thing figured out, but the heat makes her fussy.

We've been staying home a lot because I don't like to venture out in hot weather, but B has been bouncing off the walls. This morning it was cool enough I suggested a long walk to the store to buy groceries. B agreed to the concept, but the way home was a little tough. We had to stop a few times for water and rest.

Five minutes after we came home B transitioned from exhausted back to wild man mode and knocked over a container of arrowroot powder that was sitting on the coffee table. He had a bad reaction to coconut flour yesterday, which led to a bad diaper rash, tummy upset, and tons of screaming. Traditional baby powder makes him break out so we use arrowroot. I didn't put the arrowroot away, because just getting food on the table three times a day is difficult right now, so B knocked it over while swinging a toy around.

(Those who have told me 3 is worse than 2 - yes. Absolutely. And B isn't even 3 yet.)

Unable to cope with the energetic toddler I loaded the kids in the car, went to the library, got distracted by a friend (absolutely my fault) and failed to get back to the car in time.

I got a $30.00 ticket.

First violation.

Fifteen minutes over my meter.


Please tell me about your city's over the top parking fines so I feel less stupid about this.

Parking ticket - fair. Price of parking ticket - unfair.

I've been doing better about my diet soda consumption. I've been drinking a lot of black tea instead. But after seeing that yellow envelope on the windshield I was glad I had a soda in the fridge at home from my earlier shopping trip.

I think the heat makes me stupid. Ainsleigh's been sleeping fairly well - except for last week when she had roseola - so I can't blame lack of sleep. I'm just so out of it lately. And short tempered. I really need to work on my attitude. I've been way too short with the kids. I need a little rain to clear my head.

I'm a fall person. Tea, warm sweaters, rain, fires, books that make you want to curl up on the couch under a blanket and get lost for a while. I don't like being so hot I don't want to go upstairs in my house. Or being unable to get the house below 75. We have a long stretch of hot, hot days ahead of us. It might be time to search Pintrest for hot weather activities for the kids. And hopefully we'll have a day of rain to lift my spirits a little in the next few weeks (weather man says, no, but I can hope!).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

summer project: water table

When I brought up the idea of buying a water table guess what J said?

J came up with ideas for the water table off a few different projects he found online, but the concept and design is all his. I cannot believe he can make something like this without a plan or blueprint. He said it doesn't look good, because he forgot the seal before putting down the epoxy so the blue ran a little, but the kids don't care about how it looks.

J added these handles so the kids can easily turn features on and off.

J made the water table self generating .. that's not the exact term I want, but J is passed out on the couch after a nasty encounter with a yellow jacket so it will have to do. When the table needs cleaned out every few days we'll use the water on our garden then fill it up again.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

beautiful music

Last night at my in-laws we were listening to music while we ate dinner. Bennett was really into the music, so I ignored his feet kicked out to the side, body rocking pose, and let him enjoy it. I've been trying to instill table manners, but sometimes enjoying a moment is more important than sitting politely at the table.

At the end of the song Bennett said, "That was a beautiful song. What was it about?"

It was one of those moments where I saw how he might be as an adult. How he'll love music and art. How he'll appreciate small moments others don't see, or recognize as important. How he'll always be busy, but he will also always hold within himself an incredible ability to sit and focus - on a book, or a nice piece of music.

Bennett's almost three and as he becomes less toddler and more kid my heart breaks open in new ways.

For all the usual reasons and a few more besides.


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