Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Burl's First Halloween

No one has ever filled me in on trick-or-treating with kids: it's awesome.  Tonight was Burl's first night hitting the neighborhood for candy.  I was not raised on store bought costumes, so I'm not about to start now.  It's homemade or nothing.  Instead of staying up all night Halloween eve sewing fancy costumes like my mom did, I went with Burl's outfit that he wears everyday.  It's his farmer look.  Seriously, Burl dresses up for farm work everyday.  

There is always a holdup with the pant legs.  I spent a while trying to figure out exactly what he wanted.  I'm not sure what it was, but the picture above is our compromise.  What's Halloween without a little wardrobe crisis and a few tears?

Burl was all about the suckers.  The candy was ok, but the suckers!  Oh my!  He wanted to stop and eat them every time he got one.  I fought him on this one until I realized I was picking the wrong battle, so I just indulged him.  

When we returned home (to Fern and John who stayed and passed out candy), we did what we all did as kids: surveyed the loot.  Burl pretty much stuck straight to suckers.  He was downing them one after another while trick or treaters were knocking at the door.  He kept getting up and down, so excited about "more people" at the door.  Meanwhile, John and I are trying to chase the sticky goo wherever he takes it.  

Fern bit into her first candy, a smartie, and was in love.  Sweet heavens to betsy, this girl loves her sugar.  One little hit of sweetness and Fern was frantic.  She didn't know what to do: eat what she could or hoard a little pile to herself.  She was putting everything in her mouth, be it wrapped candy, candy pieces, or candy wrappers.  She wanted it all.  

After a little bit, I just had to sneak her off to be nursed and go to bed.  When I picked her up, it was like I broke her heart.  We had to walk past the candy and she just looked at it on the floor and wept.  She was not done.  

We hurried this part along because we are selfish and Survivor comes on at 8 and that is our show!  We felt bad, but not bad enough to change our minds.  We got them to bed, which was easier than I thought after all that candy, and plopped down for our show.

During the commercials, I filled John in on everything he missed.  Neighbors I met, Burl's new love for suckers, funny stories from all the families.  This is a tradition that I'm sure we'll continue.  Halloween, it is so much fun.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

25 Rules For Moms With Boys

When I found out that my first baby was going to be a boy I flipped out a bit.  How in the world was I going to know what to do?  Several people around me kept telling me that I would be fine. With my two brothers and my rowdy side, I would do just fine.  I've had so much fun with him.  Between his tools, his growls, his love for machines, and his very intense rowdy side, we've been told that he is "all boy" and we agree.  

So what do I do with this boy?  Well, for now, we play.  Last night I read an article about 25 Rules For Moms With Boys.  Please don't go critique it, just read it to enjoy it.   Let it remind of memories made and good times ahead-that's how I read it.     

For me, it made me so happy as it brought up fun memories of things that are on that list.  We dance, we build forts, we read, we talk about feelings, we go outside, we play.  Beyond that, it gave me life to look forward to.  He's going to get older and more capable and become his own person.  I'm not in a rush to get there, but I am excited to see who he becomes and how I can be a part of his life.  He's such a fun guy and I love him!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Paleo Potluck

Luckily, there are a handful of my friends who love to cook and are on this Whole 30/Paleo diet with me.  At the pool this summer, we entered into a cryptic conversation about almond flour and homemade mayo and we sounded like freaks.  One of the girls called us out.  She pointed out that we are now those people.  Those people who are super passionate about their personal convictions and talk about their little thing like crazy people.  The conversation excludes anyone who isn't on the particular bandwagon.  I hated to admit it, but she's right.  

Whole 30 and Paleo are different, but I'm not sure how.  In fact, none of us were.  I could find the answer in a little Google search, but that would be no fun.  Let's leave a little mystery.  For me, it boils down to one huge adjustment.  Here's the deal: no dairy and no carbs.  No carbs as in no breads or sweets or anything, not as in fruits or whatever.  

This weekend, Jenny (the only person I got a picture of) invited us over for a little potluck.  It was great.  On the menu was:

Roasted chicken
Bacon wrapped sweet potato fries with chipotle mayo
Butternut squash and bacon patties
Spaghetti squash with dill, tomatoes, and garlic
Smoked pork tacos with pico.  Lettuce instead of tortillas.

It was delicious and so fun to try everyone's new recipes.  Having this little connection to other people helps me while I transition to a new way of cooking.  We might talk like crazy people when we talk about food, but I still lean on this little community for support.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

This Week's Menu

I'm still loving the Whole 30 diet thing, but I'm not able to follow it as often as I want.  I find myself constantly wanting the feeling that I had while on Whole 30.  However, the desire for convenience and a little treat sometimes beat my will power.  I'm in between on the diet and off the diet lifestyles.  Things are changing for me, but I'm stuck in the trap of falling back to my older, easier ways in the midst of redefining how I think about food.  

Here's what I'm making this week, (check out the link to that chowder recipe!):

Roasted Corn Chowder (Paleo style)
Flank steak, sweet potato fries, zuccini
Brown butter tortellini with sauteed spinach 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pile It On

Fun Facts:
Fern laughs when Burl does these kinds of things.  She loves her brother.
Burl says pie-yul for pile, and for some reason, this makes it into his conversations regularly..

Fern says Mama, Dada, and Bur

We adore them.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Mama Fears

Recently, John read an article about climbing that talked about fear.  When we're climbing, sometimes fear will start to mess with us, and we should take a minute and think about what is creating that fear.  We should identify what's making us afraid and what we should do in regards to the possible problematic dilemma.  

That really helped my thinking when I climb, but more than that, it helped me be a better mom.  There are several types of loving moms out there that range from over-protective to major risk takers.  There is a huge range of how much protection we give to our babies.  While there isn't a perfect equation of how we best care for our children, we still have to figure out what is best for us.  On one hand we have women that shelter their kids and they never get to try new things or take any risks at all.  On the other hand we have women who don't know where all their kids are and what they're up to and those kids get injured often.  Which raises the better person?  In this case, neither extreme is better, but a healthy balance does the job.  

At 15 months, Burl went to the ER with his first head wound.  He got 9 stitches and a sweet scar on his forehead, and I got anxiety.  Well, not really anxiety, but that one incident has messed with me.  I'm so much more cautious now.  I think the week after, I was a mess.  I remember seeing sharp corners every where we went.  I was a freak.  I think I constantly made jokes about wrapping him in bubble wrap to calm my mama heart.  A year and a half later, I'm starting to let go again.  I'm starting to make myself let him do little things.  

There is a ladder that is at this one playground that scares me.  It's four or five steps high.  I let him do it without me hovering.  It's terrifying.  I stand on the ground and talk to myself in my head.  What am I afraid of?  What could go wrong?  What's the worse that can happen?  The worse thing that could probably go wrong is that he could break something and we would have to rush to the ER.  I would hate it, but that's part of childhood.  

Today, eight of my mama friends took our 18 kids to a quarry for lunch.  We sat at the edge of the water and the kids were good, but eventually wanted to throw rocks off the boulders that went into the water.  I carried Fern and hovered over Burl.  I realized I was hovering too much and started my Fear Analysis.  Ok, he might fall in.  If he does, then I'll jump in and get him.  I'll have to pass Fern off quickly, who is close by?  Ok, I think if he falls in the worse that can happen is we both get wet.  I'm really fast with my reaction to accidents, so I think I could handle this.  At one point, Burl lost his footing and somewhat stumbled and within 1/2 a second there were three mama hands on him (one of them mine).  He had already caught himself and was fine.  We packed up and headed back and no one was in harm's way.  It was great.  

This is my new thing to help me find balance.  I have to ask myself what's the worst that can happen?  Am I ok with that?  I know that the more we climb in creek beds and explore woods that my children will be more capable in those circumstances, but first I have to train them.  The best training tool is actually trying it, and sometimes there are failures and mishaps.  I have to figure out what it is that I fear and what I need to do about it (or not do).

Oh, and that trip to the quarry?  It was spectacular.  It was wonderfully warm, perfectly colorful, and absolutely serene, toddler version.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just A Little Hit...

After a few months off of doing basically nothing to the house, we're gaining ground and picking up speed.  I've purposefully slowed way down on the homemaking and crafting and decorating. It's part of my saying no to stuff plan.  Even though I'm not jumping back in with two feet or anything, I am trying to finish some things that have been on my finish list and my create list for months now.  

It kind of happened on accident.  My mom called and asked if Burl could come over for dinner, so off he went, leaving us with little Fern.  I asked John if he would be willing to help me hang some stuff, and he was so eager to help.  Even though I hate asking him to help with my projects around the house after he's been at work, sometimes it's worth it to have the household and professional engineer do the hard stuff.  However, I learned the easy way to calk today, so maybe I can help with that!

I'm not going on this huge decorating binge.  There are just a few changes that I would like to make and I'm going to take a couple of weeks before the holidays start to focus on them.  The list of things in the works includes: a set of three deer antlers (maybe a family or a posse of friends), patching and painting the hall, dyeing some drop cloths and turning them into curtains, and switching some furniture.  I can't wait for some finished products to share!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Take Pride In My Humble Means

Like a mirage in a desert, this couch was an unbelievably good yard sale find.  A few months before I got married and moved out of my dad's house, Jessi (my maid of honor, bff, rowdy sidekick) and I went yard sale hunting.  The goal was to furnish a house for cheap.  When we pulled up to the house we saw a sofa and couldn't believe that it said $75.  We pulled closer and saw that it wasn't $75, instead it was $15.  We were excited.  I bought it, we loaded it in my dad's F150 and I slip-covered that sucker.   We've been together for 9 years, 2 slipcovers, and 1 queen sheet.  It was at our first house where we would drag it out on the front porch when a bunch of people came over, and has served us very well in our current home.

(Random memory: for the months and weeks leading up to the wedding, I piled so much stuff into my dad's house.  At one point we had 2 couches, 2 love seats, and several chairs in his little living room.  His hallway was full of wedding gifts.  He never said a word or seemed to mind.  Good times.)

For the 9 years that we've been together, I've taken pride in my humble means.  Does anyone else ever do this?  Feel so good for being not-fancy?  We've tried to make the couch work and pretended that we can't see it's ugly plaid through the off white slipcover.  We've talked about how we like her shape and a solid back without cushions.  When people sit in that one spot and the couch makes that funny noise, I don't apologize for it.  Instead, I am all pridefully humble.  The truth is I really love what she says about this house-we're not fancy.  We don't need new things.  We'll take seconds, gladly.  We're humble.  And I'm proud to say it.  

This week, we're giving her away.  I've been given the opportunity to go and pick something out that is new and quite fancy.  While it's hard to let go of the fun times and memories of our first humble couch, it's harder to let go of my pride.  While some people take pride in having nice things, others of us take pride in not needing nice things.  Both are wrong.  Both place value on things and let them define who we are.  When I get my new couch, I'll have to sit on it a lot and think about this.  Feel free to join me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Handprint

"Have you seen The Handprint ?"  John asked me with a weird look on his face and a tone in his voice that resembled a small child about to wake a dragon.  I didn't know what he was talking about, so he explained that there is a black handprint of Burl's on our white slipcover.  My reaction was unparalleled.  

I calmly told him that I didn't care and that I would just wash and bleach it when I could and it would be fine.  Then, I went on to tell him my new philosophy: eventually my kids won't be around to make messes.  One day, it's just going to be John and me here making the messes.  One day, the kids are going to grow up and become teenagers who drive cars and go to college then adults who can vote.  I'm eager to see who they evolve into, but I'm not trying to rush it.  I imagine that Future Meg would look back at me now and tell me not to worry about the messes.  I'm not chasing the kids around with a lint roller and clorox wipes or anything, but sometimes I react to messes the wrong way.  

A while ago, Joseph came over to play with Burl.  After an hour, he brought him happily inside and Burl was filthy.  Inside myself, I freaked out a little bit and told Joseph something about how he should clean him off before he brought him in.  I made everyone freeze in place while I stripped Burl down, cleaned him up, & swept up the house where he tracked dirt.  That was my first reaction.  It wasn't asking him if he had fun or talking to him about what he did.  My first reaction to a very happy Burl was to clean him and tell Joseph how to treat my house.  I think about that moment a lot and feel repulsed.  That's not how I want to greet my happy children or my brother who's being a great uncle.  I don't want to see the mess before I see the people.  I want my house to be available to everyone anytime, no matter how clean or dirty.

Even though I won't plop muddy Burl on the white couches and talk to him for hours until seeing the mess, I want to react differently. I'm not letting anyone paint on the walls (yet) or stack furniture, but I am starting to relax.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Canoeing at Sunset

Dear John, last week we went on a little canoe trip at sunset for a date.  It was on a school night, which is like any night for me, but it felt a extra exciting to do something fun in the middle of the week.  When I saw the canoes sitting right by the creek a couple of months ago, I knew I had to try them out.  I called and called and emailed and finally got details on what to do.  If we went with our family or a group of friends, then we would have had a wild time and someone would have flipped their boat and the stories would have been grand.  Since we went alone, the stories weren't as grand, but the time was just as spectacular!   

A few years ago, I'm not sure we would have been able to jump in there without knowing every detail of what to expect.  We just showed up with our money and my camera and went for it.  No guide rode in our boat, no wild teenagers or old hippies were there, and no one was there to taint our time.  Some guys helped us in the boat and told us that people ALWAYS tip over and we were on our way.  It took us about a minute to get used to the feel, but we found our rhythm quickly.  Simply easy, just like we hoped for.  

While I make jokes constantly, hoping to get a laugh, you wait until the perfect time and hit a home run.  That Last of the Mohicans joke you made when we were going fast (aka, not slow) was hilarious.  Perfect timing.  Perfect delivery.  I think I scared the otters away with all my laughter.  Also, we have to watch that movie again.  Soon.

This morning in your email you listed all the fun things we've done this fall and said that the good times don't seem to be stopping anytime soon.  I love this about us!  Can I say that it's the new us?  Can we make adventures, big and small, part of our lives regularly?  Who have we become?  I'm not going to question it or analyze it, because I just want to enjoy it.  These are good days, for sure.

I don't know how to end this, because I'm feeling so giddy remembering how much fun we had.  I'll say this: We slipped into this with ease and energy and rolled with the punches current.  This surprises me and doesn't surprise me at the same time.  We've changed.  I love you.  Until next time, see you around our house.  Love, Meg

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This Week's Menu

Every Sunday, I post my menu plan for the week.  I only make a plan for Monday-Thursday, because the weekend has a mind of its own.  Eat dinner out.  Go to a friend's house for lunch.  Finish off the leftovers.  That's the way of the weekend.  For this week, I'm planning to make the following:

Roasted Chicken, acorn squash, green beans
Pork tacos, smoothies
Chicken salad sandwiches and fruit

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Saturdays That Slip

Dinner tonight was a picnic in the backyard.  It was complete with a quiet fire in the fire pit to add the perfect balance of warmth and ambiance.  As we headed back inside, I remembered that I have a blog and a goal of blogging everyday this month.  

I thought about scrambling to pull something together quickly, but that's no fun and it's not really my style.  Instead, I relish the fact that the way the day had unfolded had kept me completely focused on my family and not much of anything else.  Saturdays,

Friday, October 19, 2012

Being vs Doing

The biggest change in my life this year is my lack of involvement.  I'm taking some time off of being a part of things.  No clubs, no mommy groups, no responsibilities, no commitments.  (There is one exception: the women's Bible study at my church where I get encouraged and energized and cared for.  I can't quit that, because it means so much to me.)  

My small group of high school girls graduated last year, so I planned to take a year off of volunteering with the youth group.  I've been helping for 11 years, so it was about time to take a pause.  The idea slowly evolved in my head for several months before it came to fruition.  I love getting involved in things, I love being part of a group, I love helping others, and I love a good cause.  Where some people have a hard time committing and getting out there and saying yes to things, I have a hard time saying no.  I used to feel guilty for saying no, but that's not really the case now.  I don't like saying no, because I usually have fun participating in that book club, roofing that widow's house, helping with that church group, etc.  It's all fun, but it was starting to clutter my life.  

All that life clutter was turning me into a machine.  I can honestly say I was almost doing it all.  Being a homemaker, being a wife & mother, being a servant, being a friend, being efficient in so many ways, but I was doing instead of being each of those things. I was giving so much of myself and it felt good, but not in the right way.  Instead of sacrifice and love and joy (even though those were sometimes there), I was feeding off of the attention it got me.  What was the bottom line, the honest truth?  Here it is:  I feel loved when I feel needed.  It's gross, but it's true.  

My only option was to take a break from all that dysfunction.  I have started by pulling out of all my obligations.  From the outside looking in, I'm not sure things might look that different, but for me it is.  I know that if I hear about that group that is starting or that organization that is forming, I'm not going to join it.  I'm free from deciding what to join.  The answer is no for now.  That doesn't mean I'm not a friend or a mom or a wife or a sister or a daughter or a neighbor.  It means that I'm only those things right now.  

When I told a friend about what I was going to do, she said that she had done the same thing a year ago and it was the best she's done spiritually.  For the few months that I've been free, I've had so much space to learn what being means apart from doing.   I haven't found the answer, but I can say this: I'm like 1,000 times more happier and restful now.  I'm focusing on receiving God's love.  I'm focusing on what true rest means.  I'm focusing on sinking in deeper into places that I already am.  Pulling away from all those commitments isn't the solution and it won't fix things.  It's simply giving me time and space to process my heart and to change how I approach things.

Dear readers, has this happened to you?  What did life look like for you?  Or, are you on the other side, needing to step in?  Do you need to start looking up and reaching out to others? Any verses, advice, or perspective is welcome.  Thank you for reading.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Can you see us?  We're hiding from monsters.  2,700 square feet of house, and Burl's favorite game right now is to cram into 10 of it and play hiding.  

This morning I had a great time playing with the kids.  Not only was my schedule free, but I was free too.  It's not easy to tell myself to stop.  It's not easy to sit there and enjoy the peace.  It's much easier to take a minute while the kids are happy and do that one little chore.  It's easier, but it's not better.  

I started a very personal post on one of the biggest changes in my life and it's taken longer than what I thought.  Hopefully I'll get my heart and head sorted out to talk about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yogurt & Play With Fern

Today, during their long naps, Burl was asleep for almost four hours and Fern barely slept one.  It gave me some time with her that I was hoping for.  For a few weeks now, I've felt disconnected with her.  Nothing drastic, but I was missing her somehow.  Mamas of multiple babies know this dilemma better than I do, but I'm starting to feel it now.  I was missing that one-on-one time with Fern.

With Burl it was easy.  He was the only one.  Even now, he gets some one-on-one time during one of her naps.  Fern, on the other hand, doesn't see much awake time where it's just her and me.  We're running off somewhere, eating dinner, playing with Burl, or she's hanging by herself while I take Burl to the potty.  I have to be more intentional and creative to get some quality time with her.  

Somewhere along the way, I forgot that.  During those early days, I definitely had room for that special time with her.  Today, when the naps didn't line up like they usually do, I was given an opportunity to have her all to myself.  I was a little sad to give up my time to read and nap, but that really faded away as we sunk deeper into our mother-daughter place.

Even looking at these pictures while I post them makes me want to go in there and scoop her up and snuggle her while she sleeps.  I did that so many nights with Burl, and I have tried to do it with Fern.  She doesn't like to be interrupted in her sleep.  She won't sleep on me like he did, and John says I'm out of tries with her.  "Just let her sleep."  She's getting snugglier though, so I'm hopeful she'll be up for it soon.  

During our little time, I got to feed her lunch.  I got the bright idea to take this opportunity to let her feed herself some yogurt.  

When re-reading some of my blog posts, I saw that Fern is the same age that Burl was when he used a spoon for the first time.  For a few days now, I've been meaning to give her the same go at the yogurt.  She's great at picking up food with her fingers, but silverware was a whole new ballgame to her.

She held the spoon tightly in one hand and dipped her free hand in the yogurt to eat.  Sometimes she would touch her spoon to the bowl and I would go crazy applauding her, but the full concept never sunk in.  

She might not know how to use a spoon, but she can use {toy} a hammer and a hand saw!  True story.  

Oh, this sweet little girl of mine.  I just love her and am so glad her nap got cut short so I was forced to have some quality time alone with her.  I'm not sure I realized how much I needed it.  Her first year is almost up and everyday I'm still amazed at her.