Wednesday, July 30, 2008

True Confessions

It has come to my attention that at least one of my readers thinks my blog makes me look like Perfect Mom.

So I'm here to tell you that on some days I find it nearly impossible to do a good job of loving my two-year-old.

Today is one of those days.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Slow Food

I have to admit that when I first came across the term "slow food," I assumed it was coined by a bunch of crock pot enthusiasts determined to convince the world that slow cookers were the real way to prepare food. But as I read more, I realized that slow food was more an attitude than a piece of equipment, a list of ingredients, or a collection of recipes. Slow food is really an attitude. Slow food is about enjoying food--the ingredients, the preparation, the consumption.

For us, slow food is about enjoying the family trip to the Farmer's Market every Saturday. It's oohing and aahing over the box of produce that we receive every week from our CSA. It's talking as a family about what we're going to eat and how we're going to fix it. It's including everyone in the preparation of the food (as much as they can be included. For Clare, this sometimes just means chowing down on a raw green bean as Joshua and I snap them). Most of all, it's intentionally sitting down to enjoy each meal together.

It wasn't until I saw this picture that "slow food" finally clicked. (Don't worry. I'm now 15 pounds lighter than I was in that picture).
I have a similar picture of my grandmother and me, sitting on the couch snapping green beans together. And I can remember sitting in my grandmother's driveway with my grandmother and my great-grandmother shelling fresh peas.

I have a million memories that I want to make with my children, but I hope that the simple ones like this are the ones that will shape them. I hope that memories like this one will remind them that they needn't be in a hurry, that life is best enjoyed slowly, and that there is nothing more precious than spending a few quiet moments with a child.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The More-Than-Capable Husband and the Personal Trainer

As part of the Lose to Win competition I signed up for a month ago, I get a free month of YMCA membership. At first I wasn't sure what to do with it. After all, Joshua's not a real fan of the nursery (any nursery, not just the Y nursery) and most of the classes were either early in the morning or during dinner. After thoroughly enjoying a 9:30 CardioPump class while Jay stayed home with the kids, I decided to make a concerted effort to attend more of the classes. My next effort was a 6:00 a.m. CardioPump class with Amber, a 4'8" British powerhouse who makes me feel like a palsied giraffe. But I loved it. I loved it so much that I now attend three 6:00 a.m. classes every week. Monday is Circuit Training, Wednesday is Step and Ball, and Thursday is Cardio Pump.

I am not a morning person, but this is by far the best self-care I've ever done. I get to listen to ESPN radio on the way to and from the Y, and I get to spend a whole hour just taking care of me. I feel better, I think I look better, and I'm pretty sure I'm more pleasant to be around. Of course I know how lucky I am, too. Jay gets up with Joshua and Clare and takes care of them so that I can have my hour of bliss, and then cooks a wonderful breakfast when I get home. Not all women are so lucky.

Yesterday I showed up for the Circuit class at 6:00 a.m. only to realize that I was the only one there. The only thing more grueling than circuit training is circuit training with a butt-kicking instructor who now has you one-on-one. There was no way to hide, no way to avoid scrutiny. But she was gentle to this poor soul and I left feeling wonderful.

Who knew the kindest thing I could do for myself was get up at 5:30 and have someone torture me for an hour? I never would've guessed, but I'm glad I figured it out. And I'm glad I have a family who makes helps me make it happen.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Taste of Things to Come

Joshua sleeps in a big boy bed now. Actually, he sleeps in a big big boy bed. His friend Charlie was getting a new bed for himself and generously offered his old double bed to Joshua. We hadn't really thought about moving Joshua out of his crib, but when the opportunity presented itself we decided, Why not? And wouldn't you know it, the day after we picked up the bed from Charlie's house, we found out that Joshua's crib had been recalled. We weren't terribly concerned; after all, he's been sleeping in it for 2 1/2 years without incident. But we decided to use the recall as an excuse to go ahead and make the leap to the bed.

Jay set up the bed in Joshua's room right away, but we decided to let Joshua get used to the idea of a bed before moving him into it. He bounced on it, read in it, and rolled around on it. After a few days, we went to Target to pick out some sheets and a blanket for it, knowing that he'd probably sleep on top of the bedclothes and under his baby blanket for at least the next six months.

It took awhile, but we finally made our way out of the "licensed character bedding" aisle to the "we don't watch TV and we just want some plain old bedclothes" aisle. I picked out some comforters for Joshua and let him choose the one he liked best. It didn't take long. He like the comforter with the dark blue/light blue stripes. The only problem was that then I saw the quilts--and they were so pretty--and I knew they would look so nice in his room--and that they would be so much more comfortable that the comforter--and that it was just too bad because Joshua had picked his favorite already.

But I gave it my best shot anyway. "Look at this nice quilt Joshua! Which do you like better? This one (hefting the striped comforter out of the cart) or this one (rubbing the pretty quilt to show how comfortable it was)?"

"I want the stripes. Put it in the cart Mama."

We did this for the next few minutes, until I had exhausted all of the quilt possibilities. My boy wanted the stripes and there was nothing I could do about it.

Or was there?

Yes, for a fraction of a second I thought to myself, "I'm the mom! I have the power here! And if I want him to have the quilt, then by golly he's going to have the quilt!"

Yikes! Did I really think that? Yeah, I did. And then I thought about all the times over the next 16 years that Joshua will make his own decisions and his own choices. I realized that Quiltgate was only a taste of what's to come. All the decisions that I will disagree with. All the times that I will want to wield parental power to gain the outcomes that I desire rather than the outcomes he wants. All the times I will just have to bite my tongue.

I've read over and over again that, for a long time, babies don't know that they are not you and that you are not them. Now I know what the Terrible Twos are all about. I am not Joshua. He is not me. We have different opinions, different ideas, and different agendas. He copes with that by yelling and crying and throwing himself on the floor. I cope with that by sitting back and thinking,

"Oh, s@#$!"

Monday, July 07, 2008

The New Neighborhood Lawn Service

One thing about living in the country is that you'll never know what critter you'll find in your yard next. We're used to frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, and deer, but the horses were a little surprising. They belong to our neighbor, but they like our grass better.
This one was taken at the beginning of June. I was going out for the evening and was a little surprised to see them in our side yard.
And these were taken just the other day, after I saw one of them walk right past the front door, practically on the sidewalk. We told our neighbor they were welcome to stay as long as they wanted...less mowing for us!