Thursday, 9 December 2010

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow...

We hit the jackpot last week.  Another snow storm in England.  My friends were quick to point out that until we moved here they hadn’t had snow in years and years.  I told them the story of standing in my garage three summers ago with two piles.  One pile was headed to storage and the other pile to England.  B was incensed when he found the sleds in the ‘wrong’ pile.  I gently explained we wouldn’t need them in England, so we were leaving them behind.  “It doesn’t snow in England?!?!?” he said.  “Then I’m not going!”  I didn’t really blame him.  We’d had a similar conversation about baseball the week before.  Why in the world would we move to a place without baseball and snow?  He couldn’t figure it out.  I wasn’t sure even I knew the answer at the time.  
B with what we have discovered makes
an excellent makeshift sled--an old real estate sign
So here we are in England.  We’ve lived here two years and four months and we’ve had three major snow storms. Each time it happens everyone says is the worst in 30-50 years. I like to think of myself as the snow fairy, but really it’s B.  Last year we had the most beautiful white Christmas.  No one could believe it.  He’d been predicting it for a couple of days.  Said he could smell it in the air.  Everyone just smiled a bit patronizingly and patted him on the head.  I was indeed one of the unbelievers.  I was so worried he’d have a broken heart.  I just couldn’t bring myself to encourage his hope.  When it finally did snow we all wondered if he had some kind of magic snow juju.  This year that fact was confirmed.  He gives all the credit to Santa.  Last year he asked and received.  This year he wrote it in all caps on his list to Santa a few weeks ago.  He even added ‘(please)’ after it.  Yesterday I was looking at his list and I noticed he’d crossed it out and replaced the please with ‘thanks!’  So sweet.  

We got three good days of sledding in.  Built a giant snow man.  C dug himself a snow cave.  The boys even got to miss 3 days of school.  It was so fun!  It feels so good to me.  To look out my windows and see snow.  Snow on the backyard and in the fields.  These poor Brits are cranky now though, and I can’t really blame them.  There are no services.  No one clears their sidewalks--no one has snow shovels to do so!  The roads don’t really get cleared or sometimes even gritted.  No one has a clue how to drive on this stuff so driving is sketchy.   There is black ice everywhere and a lot of people have fallen or have tales of helping someone who has. 

Caid in his snow cave.
He happily worked away on this for hours.

It’s supposed to snow again this coming week, and I am stoked.  Don’t tell my neighbors.  My only complaint in all of this is that we still don’t have a sled!  Maybe I need to ask B to put the request in to Santa.     

A few more pics from the storm:

The snowman (they have their school clothes on under their snow pants.)

A's first snow!  An epic moment for an Anderberg!

After school snow fight.  

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Let's Talk About Sex...

I had a list, when I became a parent.  I'm sure many of us did.  You know the one.  The "I'll Never Do It Like My Parent's Did It" list:

-I'll never wear sweatpants to drop my kids off at school.
-I'll never make healthy food for dinner when my kids have friends over.
-I'll never make my kids go to bed at a reasonable hour on a Friday night.

Things like that.

It's one of my favorite things to do and has become a regular 10 minute break with the boys every few days to watch movie trailers.  We go to apple and check out the latest releases.  Actually, we usually watch the same old trailers over and over until we have them memorized and can act them out.  Even if we never plan to attend the movie itself.  I stick to the kid ones, but sometimes an adult one will catch our eye and occasionally I'll risk it.  The boys are used to me saying no about certain ones.  "Too much adult humor mom?"  Up until recently I've generally assumed that most of the innuendo, etc. that they do occasionally encounter goes straight over their head.  Apparently not so much.

The other day we were watching one that ended up having too much 'adult humor'.  So I kind of sucked air when B asked me a few minutes later, "Mom?  What's 'sacs'?"  I did what any evolved and totally confident mother would do.  I said, "You know, B.  Like a sack that you put things in.  Grocery sacks.  That kind of thing.  I think that's what he meant."

But in the car with Aunt Noey the other day we were all totally trapped.  A conversation about her potentially getting a girl dog led to questions about why said girl dog and Arthur would make better siblings than mates because they couldn't have babies.  B wanted to know why.

"Oh, he's fixed."

"What's 'fixed'?"

"It means he's had an operation so he can't have babies."

"How do they do that?"


We reminded him about the book we read about sperm and eggs and told him that Arthur wasn't able to make sperm.  I thought about avoiding it again, but I was very brave.  I took a deep breath and dived right in.  Penises, wombs, ovaries, fallopian tubes.  Your basic biology.  Done.  Sorted.  That wasn't so bad.  On to other topics!  But then B wanted to know, "Yeah, but HOW does that happen?"  I totally pulled the 'you'll understand better when you get older' card.  To which C replied, "Dad, we should ask your friend Peter.  The one you told us to ask about the shapes of our souls? He probably knows!"

Busted.  I said, "Well, I KNOW.  I just think it's something that you'll understand better when you're a little older."  And then Scott tried to explain that it's not that it's some big mystery, but... and Noey and I and Scott all kept saying, "well,"  Anyway, by the end of the conversation I could at least say it was over.  I told him he could always talk to us about sex.  Whenever he wanted.  Noey pulled a very cool Aunt move and told him since it was sometimes embarrassing to talk to your parents about sex they could always ask her anything too.

My parents took regular 'giggle breaks' whenever we had to talk about sex.  We were always allowed to giggle since it was embarrassing.  I'm finding a lot of these types of things lately.  The types of things where I kind of 'get it', for the first time and I think that how my parents did it maybe wasn't so bad after all.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Remembrance Sunday

The village green fills with people.  It’s raining and the saturated grass has turned to mud.  But we all stand out in it.  The Warlingham flute band leads the parade, followed by students from the boy’s local village school, a few men in uniform including our friend Mark, and the Cub Scout color guard.  The Vicar leads us all in a hymn.  The poppy wreaths are placed on the memorial in the center of the green.  There is a moment of silence.  We listen as the names of each young man from this village who died in the Great War and in World War II are read.  I cry and hug my boys tight to me—especially when 2 and sometimes 3 boys with the same surname are read aloud.  Brothers in arms, now gone.  Then there are prayers for peace.  For unity.  For those who fight.  For their families left behind. For the innocent victims of war.  For the leaders who make the decisions to send or not send us into war.  Each of us breathes an 'amen' at the end of each new prayer.  We recite the Lord’s Prayer.  We stand in the rain and sing another hymn.  Then ‘God Save the Queen.’  I don’t know the words so I cheat and sing ‘My Country ‘tis of Thee.’  It’s another Remembrance Sunday.  I am again in awe of this experience as an expat in this tiny English village.  

Recipe for the Perfect Weekend

Eat take out Friday night.  Do no cooking.  Call and order curry from the local curry house and walk over in the rain to pick it up.  Then simply laugh, play, and make Christmas lists with your boys.  Drink a glass of wine.  Eat chocolate.  And let ‘cleaning up after dinner’ mean throwing away the take-out containers.

Mix equal parts wrestling, pillow fights, and reading Harry Potter with yummy coffee, fried eggs and squishy-sweet baby.  Throw in a date to the local coffee shop with one of the big boys complete with Cherry Cokes and more drawing.  Then walk home holding hands.  Greet the other big boy fresh from beating his daddy soundly at Risk.  Make a simple dinner.  Read more Harry Potter.  Kiss your husband lots.  Laugh at the boys’ antics.  Enjoy.

Wake Sunday morning and clean the kitchen.  It’s gotten a little out of hand.  Go to Remembrance Sunday service down the street at the village green.  Enjoy the injection of gratefulness it brings.  Make a batch of pumpkin pancakes.  Make another batch when that one is gone and this time double it.  Slather each one with as much butter as you like and lots of syrup—or smooth peanut butter and syrup if you’re so inclined.  Some are.  Be sure each boy is allowed to eat as many as his tummy will hold.  Mmmmmm… Bake pumpkin bread using a new recipe and ooooo and aaaaahhh over it’s perfect shape and texture.  Convince Caid to eat it in bites instead of crammed into his mouth all at once.  Read more Harry Potter.  Tuck the baby in for a nap.  Send the big boys to the summerhouse with all their pillows for a monumental wrestling-pillow war with their daddy.  Greet their sweaty, red happy faces at the back door with kisses and hugs.  Read more Harry Potter.  Eat Autumnal Warm Salad and wish you hadn’t drunk the last of the red wine.  Snuggle.  Read more Harry Potter.  Fall into bed exhausted, happy, and filled-up, ready to welcome the week ahead. 

Friday, 12 November 2010

I heart vegetables...but not budgeting so much

I have always prided myself on eating my vegetables—on eating anything really.  I am not a girl to shy away from anything placed before me.  Anything but this weird chicken and rice soup my mom used to make when I was a little girl.  That stuff was gross.  But vegetables—be they cruciferous or root, leafy or crunchy or soft or sweet.  I love the ones that always get picked last for the team.  The kales and the beets and the celeriac.  I love vegetables, and I kind of think of myself as an uber-adult cool kid because I do.  Like I get extra points in the responsibility realm.  I kind of think I ought to get a badge.   

So you can imagine my embarrassment and frustration when I came to the realization that if there are badges to earn in the ‘being a responsible adult’ club, I have a few glaring omissions. Reading all the good child-rearing books?  Badge!  Taking my children’s health and education very seriously? Badge!  Clean driving record? Badge!  Exercising regularly? Well, I’m working on that one, but recently—Badge! Keeping the house clean? Badge!  Checking the oil every time I fill the car up? Badge! (That one’s for you, Dad). Making wholesome obscure-veggie filled meals?  TWO BADGES!! Balancing the checkbook? What?  I’m supposed to do that?  Having a budget? Hmmmm…I’m sorry, what?  Investing? SAVING?!?!  WHAT??!?  I’m seriously nowhere close to earning those badges.  And I’m worried I’m going to get kicked out of the Uber-adult Cool Kids Club.  Crap.

We’re upside down on our condo.  We’ve had it for almost eight years and it’s currently worth a little over 25% of what we paid for it.  Ouchy.  That hurts.  As we started going through with a realtor what to finally do with it we had to provide all of this financial information.  We have to show why the bank needs to let us sell it for what it’s worth instead of what we owe.  To my DEEP embarrassment—keep in mind I’m the Hermione Granger of the Uber-adult Cool Kids Club—I had no idea the answers to most of the questions.  “How much do you spend on _______________?” Um.  Yeah.  I don’t know.  A lot.  “Rent?”  Ooo ooo!  I know that one!  “Groceries?”  You don’t want to know.  “Utilities?” Um…what would those be again? 

So when the official form came last week I sort of wanted to have a nervous breakdown or pull an ostrich as my friend Kelly calls it.  I had to go through our bank statements (do I get a few brownie points for knowing what those are and where they were?) and tally up and average of what we had spent in each category over the last few months.  It wasn’t pretty.  Let’s be honest.  It was butt-ugly.  It was troll-butt ugly.  

So…I’m working on it.  A lot of folks have recommended the Dave Ramsey stuff.  His Financial Peace University stuff looks pretty smart.  We’re going to give it a whirl.   I started searching for online budgeting software, but to be honest I haven’t signed up for one yet.  I tend to get a wee bit bogged down when I start these things.  I’m trying to release my Hermione Granger-ness and just start doing it instead of insisting on getting it ‘right’ the first time. 

Sometimes shame is a good thing.  Sometimes it shows us an area we need to step up.  Take responsibility.  Sometimes it points out the missing badge.  I may eat a lot of vegetables, but I need to start being reasonable and responsible with money.  I’m working on it.  It’s time.  I just wish that budgeting was as fun as eating beets.  

So dear readers--any tips or suggestions?  Any cool tricks? What do you use to keep track of and manage your finances?  

Friday, 22 October 2010

Who knew there was a right way to hang the toilet paper roll?

image credit: dooby brain
I fixed the toilet paper roll this morning.  It was on upside down.   I always do.  Maybe I always will, but this particular time of year and this year in particular makes the effort much more poignant. 

I was eight months pregnant.  I worked for a hilariously loony professor of psychiatry.  For my last day my co-workers had treated me to a morning at the spa.  Facial.  Massage.  Pedicure.  Then a fun lunch to send me off.  Spoiled rotten.  I was hugely pregnant so it was much appreciated! 

Scott had called earlier in the day.  He didn’t feel well.  He never really complained even if he felt horrible.  So it was weird that he was calling me to let me know.  He had a ringing in his ears that was really bugging him.  I suggested he contact Ask a Nurse when he got in to work.  During lunch I got a call.  The ringing had gotten really bad.  He was really dizzy now.  So dizzy that it was making him throw up and one of his friends at work was driving him to a walk-in clinic and could I please start the hour-long commute home and meet him there.  That alarmed me a little.  I got right in the car and headed home.

I remember calling to him several times from the front door.  We had converted our one bedroom into a more studio-style apartment to accommodate a crib, rocker, changing table, etc.  He was lying on our bed in the living room.  When he didn’t answer I panicked.  Went running in and practically jumped on top of him.  He was lying on what I now call his ‘good ear’ so he didn’t hear me.  Plus the anti-vertigo and anti-nausea meds they had given him made him extremely groggy. 

I was incensed!  Pump him full of drugs and send him home without checking what was wrong?  Deep down I knew something was wrong, and I went into full-on mother bear mode.  Got us an appointment first thing the next morning with an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist.  I remember his reaction well.  Something, he knew was wrong, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.  Or maybe looking at the MRI he’d ordered he did know, but wasn’t allowed to say because it wasn’t his specialty.  Maybe I should have been more alarmed that he sent us that very same afternoon to “the best neurosurgeon in Denver.”  For whatever reason it never occurred to me that the next 3 hours would turn my world upside down. 

I remember the day so well.  I was wearing a v-neck white knit maternity top that at 8 months barely covered my huge belly.  We sat in a tiny over-lit exam room and waited forever.  When the surgeon finally did come in he was so brazen and hurried.  How he could deliver the information the way he did is still beyond me. 

“Come here guys.  Look at these MRIs with me.  So here you go.  That’s your brain.  See that right there?  The good news is.  You have a small, benign tumor.  The bad news is, I’m the wrong surgeon.  The one you need to see is in surgery right now, but if you’ll hang tight, he should be back in an hour or so to talk to you.”  And then he left us alone in the over-lit room reeling with no more information than that my husband had a brain tumor and I was about to have a baby. 

I sort of remember trying to down-play it.  I’m sure it was shock.  No big deal.  Let’s not get too upset.  Let’s wait until we can talk to the doctor.  I’m sure that part was much worse for Scott.  “Look—hanging up on the light board.  There’s my name.  There’s my brain, and right there.  That spec?  That’s a tumor. I have a tumor in my head.”

The rest of that evening is fuzzy in my memory.  The right surgeon eventually showed up. He was still in scrubs and had the little paper things over his shoes. I recall his annoyance that we had been told ‘benign.’  Apparently a brain tumor is never benign.  It has to come out—it can’t be left—so it’s not benign.  We wouldn’t know about cancer until it was out and assessed.  Oh…and it would have to come out.  The whole thing.  Oh…and it was a really risky surgery because it was just above the brain stem.  Oh…and it should come out as soon as possible, but couldn’t be scheduled until the week of my due date.    

We called my parents who came immediately home from their double date in Colorado Springs.  I remember Mom bursting into tears as she repeated my words to the people in the car.  “Scott has a brain tumor.”  What?  What did she just say?  Holy cow.  Hearing it repeated was so bizarre.   We called Travis who was living with my parents at the time.  We called others I’m sure.  Stace and Jami?  My sisters?  I remember converging on the Wevodau house for prayers and tears and absorbing the shock cause I mean, whoa.  This was heavy shit.

It was a hell of a 3-4 week wait for surgery.  I didn’t get any of the rest I had planned before my due date, but I was so thankful to be available to drive Scott to the many appointments and MRIs and consultations. 

I could fill pages and pages with the life-altering events of those few weeks.  Maybe someday I will.  Some of the memories are so precious—blessings that will keep my ‘blessings tank’ full for perhaps the rest of my life.  Not the least of which is particularly poignant this ‘year of close widow friends’—he’s still here.   Some of the memories are deep wounds.  Many wounds that over the last year have finally begun to heal.  Yes, it’s taken me that long. 

It was about this time of year eight years ago that we sat in that over-lit exam room, and I’m still fixing the toilet paper roll:  about a week before diagnosis Scott nearly came out of his chair watching me change the paper towel roll in our kitchen.  “Do you REALLY think it goes that way?!!?!” he said as he raced over and changed it to roll over the top.  I remember us collapsing into hilarious giggles as we discussed the audacity of his frustration—he had been changing the paper towels and toilet paper rolls behind my back for nearly four years of marriage.  I had no idea there was a ‘right’ way to do it. 

The morning of his surgery I watched them roll him away down the hall.  It had been hurried at the last minute.  I hadn’t gotten to be alone with him like we had planned.  I watched them wheel him away and I remember thinking, “I didn’t get to say goodbye.  What if this is goodbye.”  I went to the bathroom.  I couldn’t face the 30+ people in the waiting room all gathered there for Scott.  I sat there, stunned.  Shaken.  Confused.  I had no idea what to think or feel.  Plus I was 9 months pregnant and it had been like, 5 minutes since I’d gone so obviously I needed to pee.  I reached over for some T.P., and noticed it was ‘on wrong.’  So I changed it.  I turned it over.  And then I broke down.  I had been so strong.  So brave.  And that was the breaking point.  I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.  There alone in a funny corridor bathroom of Swedish Medical Center.  I finally lost it. 

I’m still changing the toilet paper roll.  Every time.  Even in public bathrooms and at other people’s houses.  And almost every time—especially this time of year—I  say a little prayer of thanks.  Of relief.  Of gratitude. That Scott is still around to appreciate it.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Potty Mouths

We had a hilarious conversation with friends on Saturday about bad language.  Which reminded me of my favorite recent 'bad language' story:

Since I was away having drinks with girlfriends the fellas were really enjoying a boy’s night with their daddy.  Belching and farting ensued at the dinner table—totally fair game on boy’s night.  What with all of the impoliteness the boys figured cussing ought to be included too.

“Hey Dad?  Can you tell us what the ‘F’ word is?”  one boy asked. 

“Nah buddy.  That’s a really impolite word.  I’m not going to tell you guys what it is.” 

“But Dad!  It’s boy’s night!  Come on! Please!”

When Scott continued to refuse Bridger asked, “Okay, but can you at least tell us what it starts with?”

What about you?  Any hilarious cussing stories to share? Leave them in the comments below!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Asher's birth story

Just after birth

Six months ago today I was sitting around Sara’s kitchen table drinking tea and bitching about still being pregnant.  Kelly had a watch with her constantly that day because Joel needed to apply cream to his eczema every 15 minutes. 

I had started the day at the osteopath’s office.  I was two weeks past my due date and had already struggled through several nights of long, strong contractions that after 4-6 hours would stop.  Multiple acupuncture appointments hadn’t made me go into labor, but because my acupuncturist was also a counselor they had been a wonderful place to evaluate where I was and to talk through things I was really struggling with.  

After my last acupuncture session it was suggested that alignment might have been an issue.  So I went and had an adjustment.  Sure enough my sacrum was all out of whack.  Fully aligned, but still not contracting I drove home discouraged.  Although I could really see the blessing all this processing was bringing, I was convinced I would be pregnant for the rest of my life.  After two weeks of sticking close to home ‘just in case’ Scott and my girlfriends convinced me that a day at the park was just what I needed.  We let the kids play and when it got cold, we headed to Sara’s for tea. 

At first I didn’t really let on I was having contractions.  I was used to them not being actual labor and I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up—including mine.  But Kelly had that clock.  And I kept noticing that they were getting awfully regular.  Eventually I admitted it and she started timing me.  As I remember it, they were every 4 or 5 minutes and about 45 seconds long.  Finally they got strong enough that the girls noticed.  So everyone rounded the kids up and Loulou drove me home.  I had one massively strong contraction right at the base of the Caterham Hill roundabout.  That was about 4:30 if I remember correctly. 

We got home and I told Scotty I thought this was it.  Anja said to let her know soonish if it was the real deal.  She had a speaking engagement in Tunbridge Wells at 7:00.  We went on a walk.  Down Church Road and through the graveyard.  Back behind the horse fields.  I stopped a few times.  We saw a fox.  Then back through town.  I wanted us to buy something at the Co-op I remember.  So we took Bridger’s ‘short cut’ and walked by the chip shop.  I needed chips.  Good thing we bought two, because I ate one almost entirely by myself before we ever reached home. 

I called Anja at 6:45ish.  “Nevermind.  It isn’t labor.  I’m barely contracting now at all.”  I was so frustrated.  She encouraged me to have a little dinner, get in the birth pool to relax a little, and then go to bed early.  Maybe watch a movie lying down or something. 

Scott started making spaghetti and I begrudgingly stripped off and got in the birth pool.  And then it’s all a blur.  I remember demanding (not asking nicely—I wasn’t in that sort of a place) my cell phone around 7:20 and insisting that Anja come as quickly as she could.  I remember grabbing Scotty by the front of his Rockies sweatshirt and yelling, ‘HE’S COMING.’  I remember an absolutely primal scream escaping me while Scotty was on the phone with Anja, “Anything I need to know about catching this baby?”  Something about that scream made me relax.  She wasn’t going to be there.  We were on our own.  The baby seemed to be quite comfortable clipping along at this pace.  So I settled in and made peace with the speed.  I instinctively began pressing on my perineum and chanting ‘sloooooowwwwwly baby. Slowly baby. Slowly baby. Slowly baby.  Please baby.  Slooooooooooowwwwwly for mama.  Slowly baby. Slowly baby. Slowly baby.’  

Most of all I remember Caid.  He heard me making the low moaning noises right away from the pool and immediately sat beside me.  I remember his cool, soft hands on the side of the pool.  His calm, dark eyes looking deep into mine.  His sweet voice soothing me.  “Good job, Mama.  That’s right Mama.  You’re having a baby.  Goooooood Mama.  It’s okay.  You’re having a baby.”  I would grip hold of his hands tight during a contraction and then after it had subsided he’d gently and slowly stroke my warm hands with his cool ones.  He was incredible.  Instinctively providing just what I needed.  

Bridger was amazing too.  Present.  Kind.  Running errands for Scott and attentively watching.

Anja walked in at 8:00 and asked the boys to run to the car for her bag.  When they walked back in at 8:05 I was holding Asher and rocking back and forth cooing to him and sort of basking in that deep, calm high after the rush of childbirth ends. 

There was very little blood, so Anja let the boys get in the tub with me.  I remember them in their shark swimsuits.  Anja pointed out the cord which fascinated them.  “Isn’t it a nice, juicy cord?” she asked them.  Caid liked that phrase.  Later when we check to make sure it was indeed a boy he noted what a “nice juicy penis” Ash had.

After a while Scott cut the cord.  Not ready to leave the safe haven of the pool and deeply conscious that moving to ‘dry land’ would break the sort of trance I was still in, I opted to birth the placenta in the pool.  With so little blood it was still safe too, so Anja let me be.  I remember noting that this might be the last time my body would give birth.  The last time I would make that ‘home’ and a haven for a small person to be formed and knitted together inside me.  I knew in that heart-space that this was to be cherished.  Noted.  That the home was about to leave my body and that most likely this would be the last time.  There was grief.  I loved being pregnant.  I felt so alive and beautiful and full of purpose.  I knew something magical was ending.  But there was relief and even excitement.  Something magical was also beginning.    

The placenta birthed I moved into a more conscious space.  I laid on the couch with warm blankets tucked around me and Ash on my chest.  He nursed and nursed and nursed.  The big boys finally had their dinner which had burned a bit on the stove in all the excitement. 

Anja showed us all Ash’s little house for the last 9 months.  I couldn’t believe how small it was—she noted how big it was.  A nice, big strong placenta for my nice, big boy.  9 lbs 13 oz to be exact.  We did a little exam—nothing major.  I held the baby the whole time.  No tearing.  My biggest baby.  My shortest delivery.  No tear.  I credit the water and the slooooowly baby, slowly chant. 
After a while Scotty took Ash and I went upstairs for a shower.  I think I drank some juice.  I put on soft jammies and crawled into bed.  We were all tucked in and sound asleep by about 11:30.  Peacefully, blissfully asleep in my very own bed! 

Bridger reading to Asher for the first time
Hard to imagine it’s already been six months, and yet I can barely remember life without this new little wild man.  Asher Jonathan Anderberg.  Sure do love you.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Fat and Happy

Since the last few days have been a bit rough (fit throwing 6 year olds, starvin’-marvin’ 5 ½ month olds, husband away all week, etc.) I have decided to avoid the cleaning and go to my happy place while the baby sleeps. Specifically, my fat and happy place: Italy. We asked Bridger about a week or two ago what his favorite country to visit has been and he declared, “Italy!” When we asked him why he replied, “because they have the BEST desserts!” I couldn’t agree more. I pretty much think they have the best of everything gastronomically speaking.

My favorite thing to do in the whole world is to go out to eat. Breakfast, lunch, dinner—I’m not bothered. Just out! Could that be declared a hobby? If so, it’s my favorite one and if I do say so myself I’m quite good at it! Plus in terms of spousal/hobby compatibility I married the perfect man. He loves to go out to eat as much as I do.

Going out to eat is far more than a hobby when we’re traveling, however. What’s the use of visiting every local monument if you never really experience the country they’re in? How on earth are you going to really learn about a new culture if you’re only ever around other tourists? What better way to encourage your children to try out the local language than through ordering their food or asking the sweet, non-English speaking server where to find the bathroom? Especially when their sweet “dov’e la toilet?” earns “ahhhhhhhh’s”…from every nonna (grandmother) within earshot. What better way to brush shoulders with the locals than by sitting side-by-side with them allowing them to introduce you to their favorite foods? You can learn a lot about a country through their food—but that’s a different post.

Bearing all that in mind, Scott and I feel you can never really experience a culture unless you eat out! We love to discover the tucked away hole-in-the-wall restaurant with good local grub and local people. I feel suspicious of places in foreign countries that advertise an ‘English Menu’ (and don’t even get me started about ‘air conditioning inside’). Where’s the adventure in that? Sure I may end up with frog intestine or mosquito eye balls, but if that’s the local delicacy isn’t that what I ought to be eating!?!? Here's the thing: If the parking lot is full? Line around the corner? Stuffed to the gills with folks speaking a totally foreign language? I’m there! I have even been known to hail a local walking down the street of a place we visit and inquire about the best place to eat. There’s nothing better than a local’s suggestion.

So imagine our chagrin when our first night out in Italy was a totally bust. Well, not total. The food was delicious, the service wonderful, the restaurant packed with locals. Try as we might though, bedtime is bedtime and baby Asher didn’t care that Italians don’t even begin eating dinner until well past his! The proprietors were very accommodating. Ushering me into the room with desserts (yum!) to bounce him and feed him, and turning off the lights to soothe him. Scott and I took turns bouncing and soothing and walking. At the end of the night we were bummed. How on earth were we going to really experience Italy if we couldn’t go out to eat? We decided we needed a new plan.

Thankfully local food can be found in places other than restaurants and Plan B can be nearly as fun as Plan A! More fun, if it takes a crying baby out of the equation!

We discovered (again by a local’s suggestion—namely our hosts, Gil and Ken) where all the best local food was sold. No need to be disappointed about not having a server to suggest the best thing on the menu. The 20-something guy at our deli was happy to play the same role. He sent us home with stacks of locale prosciutto and bresaola. The hilarious restaurant game of “I wonder what we ordered? Can’t wait to find out"--solved in the pasta section! Cartons of handmade pasta so local it didn’t even come with a label. We were never quite sure what we were getting, but it was always delicious! Gnocchi and ravioli and tortellini. Vats of Pesto Genovese. Balsamic vinegar so smooth you could have drunk it plain.

The tiny grocer was full of Italian produce. Six types of garlic, gorgeous Roma tomatoes, apples, and cavalo nero. Huge, ripe peaches and delicious pears.

The sweet lady at the bakery thought it was hilarious to try and figure out what we were ordering. We’d jabber away at her in English and she’d jabber away at us in Italian, and though we never quite got what we planned to order we always left with something incredible. Measuring with our hands the amount of foccacia to saw off the slab. Inquiring after which items were chocolate. Stocking up on fruit tarts for Caid and vanilla filled cookies for Bridge. We also managed to communicate what village we were staying in--thanks to Bridger's interpreting skills--and find out a bit about where she lived--again thanks to Bridger. Making friends with the locals!

It doesn’t get more local than picking ripe, luscious figs off the tree right behind your villa (with permission of course). We ate like kings. Every night. Washed down by €2 bottles of local wine so delicious it broke your heart to not be able to bring a drop of it home.

Plus, we never wanted for ambiance on our picturesque covered balcony—many nights looking out at the rain. Put the baby down to bed. Heat up the food, poor the wine, and sit. And visit. And be together. Add a sweatshirt or a fleece after a while and sit some more. Then when big boys start rubbing their eyes we’d get the book out. One boy on my lap and the other on Dad’s. We’d read and snuggle. Then we’d tuck them in and turn off the lights and sit a bit longer. Sipping the delicious wine and listening to the village clock chime away the hours.

Fat and happy. So happy. Who needs Plan A?

Not so bad for ambiance eh?

Thursday, 7 October 2010

This moment...

I’m doing that thing. That thing where I don't go to bed. I do this when Scott is away. I always have, but these days it’s also because I'm terrified of the night. It’s near torture. Desperate for sleep but knowing in 5 seconds I’m going to have to wake up to a crying baby who for about a week now has been needing to nurse every hour around the clock. And that's so totally true. But so is the reality that he smells good. And he's sweet. And he's so grateful when I lift his little squishy body from his bed and snuggle him up and feed him. And his sweaty little head against my arm is delicious and fulfilling in it's own way. So I will persevere. And go upstairs. And quit doing the thing. And remember that this is a season. That I won't always feel so sucked dry and mind numbingly, life alteringly tired. I will remember that there will come a day when he's too big to sleep on my chest.

I will go upstairs and kiss the big boys before I crawl into my bed and I will remember the leaf and pumpkin paintings the six year old and I painted instead of the insults he hurled. The “this is sort of like an at-home date!” instead of the “you’re the worst mommy ever.” I will remember the biggest boy who pressed my hand to his face when I tucked him in and said, "oh Mama, I MISSED you today." I will remember the 6 year old who wanted to sit by me in the sunshine. Whose solution to the fact that "we just fight. Every. Single. NIGHT!” was "to snuggle more and do less chores except the cooking and the unloading of the dishwasher."

I will remember that they are mine, but only for a short, short time. That I will get more sleep and have more sex and be skinnier and have a cleaner house, but I will also be more lonesome and long for their loud, wild voices. I will remember that there will only be a very short time when I can solve every one of the baby's problems with my snuggles and my breasts. I will enjoy days they stay home sick from school even if it dissolves into complete freaking out meltdowns. Because I love them. And I do know it is an incredible privilege to be their mother. To be a mother. And I remember that it is not all that I am. But for this moment, this one right now…it is enough.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Fall and Autumn

I love Fall--all damp earth and rubber wellies and wet dog. Its wood fired cinnamon scented yumminess. Its pumpkin flavored deliciousness. Its wool sweaters and down vests. Its greedy insistence on all the year’s best colors—pumpkin orange and cranberry red, and plum, and deep, deep browns. I. Love. Fall.

Something about it makes me pull out all my cookbooks. I want to spend every spare moment baking spiced cakes and standing over my red Dutch oven turning out hearty stews and soups with hunks of brown bread.

I tend to clean the house really well (who made the rule that Spring should get the best cleaning?). Organizing closets and throwing things away. Bringing out the sweaters and putting away the shorts. Well, who am I kidding really. I live in England. The sweaters are needed year round and I think I only wore one pair of my shorts twice this summer—and that was when I was home in Colorado.

Strangely I’m coming to appreciate the English ‘Autumn’ as they refer to it. At home Fall hits all of the sudden. The days are warm and the nights are crisp. The aspen leaves turn in September and everything is a blaze of color. We spend the weekends going to corn mazes and pumpkin farms and driving up Highway 285 to see the trees. We drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes and eat a lot of green chili and plan costumes for Halloween.

English Autumn comes on gradually. You wake nearly every morning to mist. The fog is ridiculously beautiful, but must be complained about incessantly. The leaves change slowly, slowly. Only small patches of yellowish leaves until a big storm hits much later in October and blows all the leaves off the trees. Until then there’s still so much green and the fall flowers are bright and pretty. Weekends are for wellie walks and roast dinners. We eat leeks and potatoes and thick pork sausages with gravy. London Starbucks baristas may say “Ew, NO! Pumpkin?!?!” when you ask for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, but there’s nothing like an English bitter ale on a cold, wet day (even if I am one of the only women drinking beer).

Here Autumn is marked by the length of days. They rapidly get shorter and shorter and even the boys note that it’s hard to tell when to get up because it’s all the sudden dark in the morning. Halloween is only barely celebrated, but I can’t wait for Bonfire Night and fireworks!

Fall is one of those halfway places. Where I long for the familiarity of my old home and all of my ‘old’ favorite things, and yet I revel in the comfort of my new home and all my ‘new’ favourite things. It’s funny to me how much I ache for Colorado this time of year and yet how dearly I love this little village.

Leave it to Fall to teach me to love this cold, damp country.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Getting There

After a day of travel, two hours of wrangling car seats, exchanging car seats, and re-wrangling car seats we were finally on our way. Needing strength for our first continental European driving experience we exited the first big roundabout to the first restaurant we spotted. Thus our first dining experience in Italy began—at the golden arches. Yep. It was McDonalds for our first Italian meal. Irony is a funny thing. Uninhibited by nostalgia Caid was none too impressed even if it did include a toy. Bridger was stoked. I pretty much felt sick before I’d even finished my last bite, but a family’s gotta do what a family’s gotta do.

Our strength revived and my navigational skills intact we headed for the hills. With no sat nav and no map it was definitely a “look how far we’ve come” sort of moment. Two years ago the directions that Gil, the owner, sent would have meant about as much to us as Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Gil is English, and English directions crack us up. “Go straight on here. “ “Go through the roundabout.” “Take the left turning there.” “After the second tunnel go left on the roundabout then past the narrow bridge with the tricky left hand turning carry on going 4 kilometres or so until you reach the Mill on your right hand side then take the sharp right hand turn and park where the road opens wider under the trees.” WHAT?!? Our American compasses were prewired for directions more like, “take University South to Arapahoe and turn left. Go six blocks and take a right. Take the second right and it’s the 4th house on the left.” American directions seem so much more specific. Where we grew up in Montana if you took one wrong turn you might end up in a whole other state! Italy was more like the English variety. We revelled in our new “we’ll get there eventually” paradigm and enjoyed what a mere 2 years ago would have certainly caused a huge fight and sent me into hyperventilating hysterics. Italy could be chalked up as a success right then and there and we hadn’t even arrived at our villa yet.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


I ironed today. I know, right? I don’t really iron. I hate to do it, first of all. Plus anytime I make an attempt Scotty usually gives me a pained look while he snatches the iron away from me, exclaiming, “do you mind?” I guess we can assume I’m also not very good at ironing.

Once when my mother-in-law Ruth was visiting she asked Bridger, “Bridger, do you know where Mommy keeps her iron?” Bridger replied, “I don’t think Mommy has an iron, but Daddy keeps his in his closet with his ironing board.”

Today though, I ironed. What, pray tell caused this momentary lapse? Well, Scott’s out of town and the boys have Karate and their uniforms needed pressing. It was pretty hilarious, and it took me forever. Oh also, when I went in just now to bring them downstairs I realized I’d forgotten one arm on Caid’s suit. I’m thinking of switching the boys to Rugby. J

Friday, 3 September 2010

1st Day of School

I’m trying to stay hydrated. It’s sensible. Plus I need a focus and I figure it’s better than the alternative—eat lots of chocolate. With both big boys off at school I’m not sure what on earth to do with myself. So I figure I’ll drink lots and lots of water.

No seriously. It’s been a whirlwind around here. I have absolutely loved our homeschooling journey. Getting to teach the boys to read and write their letters. I love to get the math stuff out every day and hear “YES! MATH!” Homeschooling has had all kinds of bonuses. Like getting to tailor a curriculum to exactly where they’re at with appropriate helps and challenges. Like all the amazing field trips we’ve taken to museums and castles (during the school day too so it’s not wall to wall school kids!) Like tromping through the woods in our wellies several times a week and making cookies for ‘cooking class’ and Friday night parties to celebrate the theme of the week and include Daddy. And let’s be honest, getting to sleep until 8:30 every day ain’t so bad either! Yeah. It’s been pretty much awesome.

There were not so great things too though. Like being with my kiddos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with nary a break in between. I love my boys a ton, but deliver me. That’s a lot of boy. Also I’m not trained as a teacher and I didn’t always know what to teach or how to teach it to keep them up to snuff. I struggle to remember the difference between and adjective and an adverb. So you can imagine me trying to remember every time Bridger would ask. Plus I’m a small menu kind of a gal. I prefer to frequent the restaurants with only a few specialized choices. I hate those places with a multi-paged document you feel you need about an hour just to read, let alone decide on. I have been known to hysterically throw such menus to my husband pleading, “Chicken? I don’t know? Help!” Homeschooling is a gazillion paged menu. There are millions of ‘methods’ on how to teach and a gob of curriculum choices, and I found it very hard not to get bogged down.

Another thing—I am not a great schedule/routine gal. Especially towards the end of my pregnancy I would find whole days would go by without me noticing. It would be 4:00 and I would have just showered. All of the sudden I’d panic, “Okay, boys! Math time!” They were pretty flexible, but it got a little old. Bridger, especially, craves routine and really thrives with a bit of structure in his day and this Mama was not cutting it in that department.

As we neared the end of the summer I was stoked. I had a curriculum all picked out based on the Romans through the Renaissance. I had a list of places around England we were going to visit on our “outing Thursdays” as tie-ins to what we were doing. I had a new Math book. New markers. New three-ring binders that came special delivery from the States. What I did not have was any more energy or capacity and I was starting to panic.

I started fantasizing about the big boys going to school. Whole lists of stuff I could do with just me and Ash. Whole side-fantasies about a bit of piece and quiet. Having time to go to lunch with a friend. Pooping in our house’s one bathroom without any one interrupting. Stuff like that. Then I started having dreams every single night about bizarre reasons they HAD to go to school. In one the Queen visited and said they had to. I was like, “Oh, okay your majesty, I’ll take them straight away.” I even used an English Accent when I answered her. The thing is that in each scenario no matter how crazy or convoluted the reason they had to go at the end the overwhelming feeling of the dream was one of relief. I finally admitted it to Scott and after several late nights of talking and crying and a couple of weeks of me obsessing over all the questions, “Does this make me a bad mom?” “Will they do alright?” “Will the boys be behind and the teachers think I’m a terrible teacher?” “Will they like school?” “Will this make them hate school?” “Is Caid ready?” “Am I ready?” “Will the Queen be glad I obeyed and invite me to the palace for tea to discuss how well they’re doing?”

We found out Wednesday at 11 that both boys had a place at Warlingham Village Primary School. Wednesday afternoon was a mad dash for uniforms: grey trousers, black shoes, white polos, and get this—white gym shorts. WHAT?!?! We packed backpacks and lunchboxes and laid out clothes and yesterday I took my little men to their first day of school. Dude. It was intense.

Bridger woke up a little green and was sure he would puke and was too sick for school. Caid had a whole stack of survival gear and a library’s worth of books he was trying to get into his backpack. In the end I got them out the door and to the school. Both boys found someone to line up with and they were off. I spent the day cleaning my house and obsessively watching the clock. Counting down the minutes until I could go pick them up. “Can I go yet? Now can I? Is now to early? Now?” I missed them!

They were all smiles when I picked them up. Bridger said, "Mom, I think this is going to be WONDERFUL!" Both boys had new friends by the end of the day and were full to the brim with stories about how fun it was and how much they liked their teachers. When I asked them our usual "high point/low point?" question they both reported it was all highs--"not a single low, Mom. Not ONE!" :-) I’m so glad. I do have to admit though that a tiny piece of me wanted them to declare it a disaster and beg me to teach them instead. I guess that’s not on the table now. So…what to do with myself? I better go drink some more water.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Wish there was a ritual...

He was hilarious. He had a great laugh. His hugs were some of the best, ever. He was kind. He loved my kids. He was a fisherman. He was a great cook. He was the apple of my sister’s eye and she was his. He was just stinkin’ fantastic…and now he’s gone. Tomorrow marks one year since he the day he left this earth.

I read up on rituals to celebrate the anniversary of someone’s death. I loved that there were extremely specific ways of marking that day in so many other cultures. Most included sacrifices and prayers. One mandates a candle being lit at sundown the day before and left burning until sundown the day of. Some suggest articles left on altars (if I had an altar I’d leave a match-box car corvette…see below). Others specific foods eaten in specific orders. In our Western culture we have no rituals for grief. It’s tragic really. Rituals provide context. They’re very helpful that way.

I like rituals, but as there was no mandated one in my culture it was really hard to think of something to do tomorrow, and yet I felt compelled to do something. I just couldn’t decide and then I was reminded by a friend of his own great description of himself on his facebook page. Here's what he wrote:

Anyone who knows me knows that I have always been a fisherman, but over the last fifteen years my passion has bordered on obsession. I am an AVID fly fisherman. Rain or shine my pursuit of trout with a flyrod is endless. The only thing that eclipses my love of fly fishing is my love for my precious wife, Noel. And, I am also a man who.....has been sober for more than 4 years~has driven a motorcycle 140 mph~thinks mean people suck~has been in a hurricane, 2 blizzards, been caught outside in a crushing hailstorm and evacuated because of a tsunami~loves hazelnut americanos~Once stood on top of the World Trade center~has been 2200 miles up the Amazon river~ has seen the Taj Mahal with my own eyes~has been bitten by a snake, 2 dogs, a goose, a cat, countless fish and about a gazillion mosquitos~cries every time Rudy finally gets accepted to Notre Dame~would risk my life for someone I've never met~takes a flyrod on every vacation, no matter where, just in case~thinks climbing Everest is impressive but wishes they would clean up their shit afterwards~has caught lobsters and alligators with my bare hands~knows how to sail~doesn't remember learning how to swim(I could always do it)~loves Hawaiian music~wants an old school corvette but in the mean time collects corvette hotwheels~eats the best bite somewhere in the middle~is addicted to Fresca~digs climbing trees~has gone over a waterfall to land a trout~thinks Leggos are frickin' fun~is fascinated by thunderstorms but afraid of lightning~is a pretty decent pistol shot~has hunted elk with a bow~would most likely kick my little sisters ass in pool or darts(inside joke)~has surfed waves big enough to keep most people out of the water~would pull over on a lonely highway to take a bitchin' photograph~would take the lonely highway in the first place, on purpose~ has been 10 feet from a 12 ft. tiger shark~feels sorry for zoo and circus animals~has caught a yellow-fin tuna and eaten it sashimi style within 5 minutes~has had over 150 stitches~tried to ride a BMX bike off a roof into a pool and missed~has wrecked 3 cars and 2 motorcycles~knows the difference between western and english horseback riding styles and can do both~thinks that greenhouse gasses are not just a made up problem, and that we will most likely run out of oil in our lifetime~ thinks people should be able to marry whomever they choose, regardless of gender, and that everyone should have the right to choose~believes there is a difference between listening and hearing, and that to get respect you have to give it~believes that there is a God~and finally, believes that the greatest gift anyone posseses is the ability to recognize their own gift.

Perhaps one of Sawan’s greatest gifts was the gift of making any time, on any day, with anyone--a party. So to honor my dear friend and deeply missed brother-in-law and my boy's uncle extraordinaire we’re going to party. I have waffled back and forth but in the end I decided to follow Bridger and Caid's lead because that would have been very Sawan-esque too. So, I think we’ll swim. That seems appropriate. We may go to the park and have a picnic. One of the last times I saw Sawan we had a great picnic at Wash Park. I believe we’ll eat—cause he liked to do that too. I may get the legos out and we might draw pictures and I’m not sure what else. Mostly we’ll miss him, and we’ll love him, and we’ll do our best to honor his spirit and love of life and others.

Sawan Nail, you are deeply missed.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

What a year...

I descend the overgrown steps in my wellies and marvel at how sweaty I am considering the overcast day. We cross a little wooden footbridge and over the style into the farmer’s field and I watch my big boys race with their friends to the opposite side while the sheep scatter. It’s postcard perfect English countryside and I’m on another weekend walk with my friends. I’m quite sure this may be the perfect way to spend a Saturday. A walk through the countryside ending, of course, with a pint at the pub. Then we all converge on the designated house and tuck in to curry complete with too much wine, much laughter, and talking until late into the night.

I celebrated a quintessentially English 33rd birthday yesterday. Surrounded by good friends, my baby sister, and my four men.

A year ago today I was on a train through the beautiful French countryside. It was one of my favorite Caid moments. We were sitting on the train platform in Avignon, France. Some young blonde backpackers near us were speaking a language neither Scott nor I recognized. We were discussing what it might be when Caid very adamantly declared, “I know what it is! Vegetarian!” Scott and I died laughing! Several minutes later Caid asked, “What is ‘veg’?” Thinking he meant the newly learned British translation of a common word I answered, “vegetables.” “A country, called ‘Vegetable’ Mom? I don’t think so.” was his incredulous reply. We howled.

It was a wonderful birthday week. We dropped Bridger and Caid with Travis and Keri in Arles, France, and Scott and I spent several days celebrating our 11 year anniversary by ourselves in Antibes. We visited the local Farmer’s Market and swam in the salt-water pool every day. We took walks. We ate amazing meals at tiny restaurants. It was so fun. Then we reunited with the fellas and the Baars and went swimming and cliff jumping at a gorgeous river beneath a old Roman aqueduct—The Pont du Gard. We ate birthday dinner in the middle of the town square beneath twinkly lights and I even drank just a tiny bit of wine on account of my first trimester pregnancy. It was delicious. Memorable. Hilarious. Relaxing.

We returned home and thus began one of the most intense years of my life.

I thought I’d give myself the next few weeks to sort through the memories a bit. Mind if I share a few of them with you? What were you doing a year ago today?

Friday, 28 May 2010

I sound like my mother...

I threw a granola bar across the kitchen tonight. Someone had spilled water on the clutter and not-yet-put-away-grocery strewn counter and not cleaned it up. The oldest boy was laying on the couch with dark circles under his eyes, looking gaunt after 2 ½ days of flu induced starvation. The youngest was in a sling laying his snoring head on my chest because he refused to be set down long enough for me to make dinner. The middle was fake crying because I used a stern voice the third time I asked him to complete his chore. Sicked-on laundry and an overflowing diaper pail. A broken washing machine. A sink and countertop of dirty dishes because the dishwasher hadn’t been unloaded. After two Diet Cokes and ½ a chocolate bar dipped in peanut butter straight out of the jar I’d lost all coping mechanisms. I threw a granola bar because of spilled water. It wasn’t even spilled milk for crying out loud. “I’m living with a bunch of PIGS!”

The proverbial ‘they’ always say that one day you’ll wake up and realize you sound just like your mother. This was my day.

It was a Sunday afternoon and we’d both apparently read the ‘for teens’ column of the Parade Magazine. Kids had written in about what their parents did that drove them nuts. She sat on my bed and asked me what she did that drove me nuts. I remember quoting her, “I live with a bunch of PIGS!” I remember I made her laugh as I recounted how sometimes all of the sudden she’d suddenly freak out about the state of the house when it didn’t seem to bother her a few minutes—even seconds—before.

It occurred to me the other day that when my mother was my age she had four kids and the youngest was already 4 years old. As that realization washed over me I was flooded with forgiveness and awe. Oh. Wow. I get it. I totally get it. The m&m’s as ‘good mood pills.’ The sudden freak outs about the laundry pile or the dishes or the dirty room. The deeper moments of frustration and confusion about how in the world to raise this gaggle of kids. My dad wasn’t from the generation of men who do their share of the cooking or housework. She did it all. When her mother visited she didn’t do laundry and bounce babies. She drove my mother crazy and stirred up derision.

She may have lived with a bunch of pigs, but I don’t remember her ever throwing a granola bar.

Hey Mom? Thanks. You amaze me. And I don’t care what ‘they’ say. I don't mind sounding just my mother.


I have these moments. I’m sitting down. Finally. I pull out my computer, excited for the opportunity to write an email. Finally. I’m lonely and excited and I have so much to share. Friends have written and they have so much to share and I want to respond. Finally. An email. A two handed email. As opposed to the one-handed and generally one-lined iPhoned attempts. Ahhhhhh….finally. Halfway in, the big boys begin an epic light saber fight and Caid makes an excited exclamation. Bam. The baby wakes up. Nothing will console except a cuddle or a finger to suck on (he won’t take a pacifier) and well…maybe just a one-handed email to let them know I at least read what they wrote?

Tonight Scott had the baby and was cooking dinner. I had finally taken care of a couple of my “need to order online” list items. The new Court Yard Hounds album was rocking on Spotify and I was about to finally start writing. So much to write about. Homebirth. Wellies. The 100 Acre Wood. Birth. Mothering an infant. The journey. But here was a sweet 5 year old. Longing to read me a book. Cuddled up close and interrupting every few minutes. “Mama? Wanna know what that says? Aaaaalllllllrrrrrreeeeeddddddyyyyy. Already!” And how can I not be so excited. And how can I not drop everything for what is really his first attempt at reading an entire book by himself? And how can I not set aside my computer and cuddle him up and drink in the moment. But…see…it’s the first time in nearly a week to sit by myself for 20 minutes and the first time in six weeks I’ve had to sit with my computer and TWO HANDS and do whatever I want to do. For just 20 minutes. Finally.

These moments. These tradeoffs. These are the tensions. The issues. The balancing act of taking care of children and trying to look after oneself. A household AND the people in it. Do I sleep for an hour or make sure everyone has clean underwear? Make the journey to the grocery store with three boys in tow or eat peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner? These are the days of snatching a conversation with my husband while I shower since the water sounds sooths the baby and he doesn’t cry. The days of “I’m not sure I brushed my teeth today” and “Can you just wear dirty jeans for one more day?” These are the days of a cupcake being the fastest available lunch vs. “sure wish I had a pair of jeans that fit.” These are the days of baby cries that break my heart and my will and baby smiles that light up my whole world. Of snatches of conversations. Of broken sleep. Of tradeoffs.

It’s a lot of work. But it’s good work…if you can get it.