Just Another Manic Monday

Sometimes I bail on blogging because I have nothing to say, other times, like now, I think of all of this fascinating stuff (hey, it’s all relative, right?) I want to write about all day long and when I sit down in front of the computer at the end of the day, it overwhelms me.

Things like:

Holy carp! Did I just invite the entire internet to my house?  I think I kind of did! Which is totally fine because all I have to do in the next four months is to completely remodel my house from top to bottom and buy some extra towels.

I have my first tomato!  I am mired in irritation that the Inaugural Tomato is on one of the Home Depot My Evil Dog Killed My Seedlings Replacement Plants and not on one of the plants that I! grew! from! seed! but I am trying to let it go.

Yesterday I was swinging on the hammock in my back yard and it collapsed under me! How rude.  And also shocking.  Please be warned that there’s a killer hammock loose in Sacramento.

My sister in laws wedding programs – I am making them.  They were, shall we say, labor intensive?  But I am NOT allowed to complain about them, by decree of my own self, because I volunteered to make them and I conceptualized the labor intensive design and also my sister in law puts the fab in fabulous and I’d make her 400 programs, but I will just note that they took a wicked long time to do.  But now please vote, A or B, because none of us can decide on bow versus no bow.  Internet, the fate of Sarah’s programs lies in your hands, also please do not crash her wedding, stalkerish types.

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Opinions, please, as long as those opinions are not “You are insane” or “How did you spend that long on those programs those suck.”

Did you know for Mother’s Day I got a new garage roof?  Funny.  Only not.  We HAD to replace the roof because the house insurance people told us to LAST Junethat they wouldn’t insure it and to replace it within a year and time was running out and then we wouldn’t have house insurance and apparently that’s illegal and blah blah blah boring legal jargon.  Anyhoo, Mr. E put the roof on himself and he started it the Saturday before Mother’s Day which meant that I drowned my sorrows over having to do MORE parenting than usual on Mother’s Day in mint chip ice cream cake but I can’t be mad because holy wah, the man roofed a garage, people! Look at the before and after!? I am in awe.

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I am going to do a password protected post shortly, so if you see the post go up and you want the password, email me, but if you are related to me or know me in real life you aren’t getting it, sorry. Also, it’s going to be fascinating. No, seriously, it’s just should I wear outfit A or B to the wedding and I feel like a dork putting up clothes I am going to wear to a wedding for people to see who will be at the wedding, and Maggie suggested the old P3 and so that’s what I shall do.

The other day I was so hot and so tired and so sick of doing laundry and loading the dishwasher that when I opened the cabinet and a Nalgene fell out of it and bounced on the counter and narrowly missed my head I grabbed it and threw it in the backyard.  Does this mean my meds aren’t working?  Who can say.  I am taking a wait and see approach.

I cleaned the garage out, the other day, and now everything is shoved under tables or below the work bench that runs a long one side, all sealed into large Rubbermaid bins – and then we’ve got all the heavy bulky awkward baby crap wedged on top of the bins – stuff like swings and gates and walkers.  I haven’t needed anything out of those bins in the better part of a year and then of course as soon I got everything really wedged in there, I’ve had to dig in the bins about seven hundred times in the past week.  Last night I was rooting through one looking for a black dress I thought maybe I could wear to the rehearsal dinner and I was sort of embarrassed at the amount of little baby girl clothing I own.  Especially considering how many little baby girls I have. (Hint: None).  It’s just things I found at garage sales or thrift stores or in Mexico that I couldn’t pass up, stuff I bought for my nieces or baby Elena and then couldn’t let go.

And then the other day I had the music from the Nutcracker in my head, and it reminded me of how much I want a little six year old girl to take to the ballet every Christmas.  I am sure Elena’s mom’s would let me borrow her, and I know that if I never have a daughter, they’ll let me steal her, a lot, and she can be my really really spoiled fake daughter, but oh, it’s not the same.  I really really really want to have a girl.

And also the black dress looked horrible.  So I obviously need to stay out of the garage and also to quit buying pink smocked dresses.

I have the worst craving for beets lately.  I blame Kristie, who claims not to like them.  This gets me started on a long litany of delicious beet dishes (well, two.  Salad and borscht).

I feel like sort of an a hole for bringing this up and I almost didn’t but it’s festering in the back of my mind so there it is.  The other day I read a blog post by someone who is struggling with infertility and she said that she couldn’t understand complaining about your children, that “whining about a miracle” was something she couldn’t comprehen. And it just stuck with me, because lord knows I am not one to make any kind of judgment about the struggles of infertility, I haven’t been through them.  But then I expect the same courtesy of you, I really do.  I get to whine about my experiences because you get to whine about yours.  Everything else aside.

But mostly, and here is my real point.   I don’t believe that children are miracles, and I believe it does all of us a disservice to classify them as such.  They are not little angels sent here to make you feel something about god or yourself or the truth about forever.  They are human beings, just like you and me, with all the inherent flaws that make humanity so complicated and difficult and wonderful, all at the same time.  Children are not a moral lesson.  They are people.  And sometimes they make you want to throw Nalgenes in the yard, and sometimes they make you laugh so hard you cry, and sometimes you want to talk about all of this complex and confusing business called being a mom, and call it what you will, I’ve been whining about my miracle since 2006 and I shall continue to do at every available opportunity.

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Escape to Sacramento

Dudes, I have been waiting absolutely YEARS to announce this!

You know how sometimes people will write some vague hoo ha on their blog about they have a big bloggy secret, but they can’t tell you yet because it’s still in the works and it’s a secret and they are totally NOT pregnant but they have a big bloggy secret and it’s so great you won’t be able to stand it and it’s totally obnoxious because who wants to hear about some secret that you can’t even know about for weeks if maybe EVER?  Am I right or what? Totally annoying.

Anyway, I have a BIG BLOGGY SECRET!  But because I am obvs not totally annoying (at least most of the time), I am going to tell you about it RIGHT NOW.

So, a long time ago in a internetland far far away, some of the most lovely ladies of the internet and I started thinking about going to Blogher, but then my husband got furloughed and registration was $300 and they didn’t give me a scholarship and then the darn thing SOLD OUT in about twelve minutes and that is when the wheels started to turn and ya’all – we are having our own great big internet party. !!!!!!  Totally NOT called Fake Blogher so we don’t get sued.

I will be hosting the party in Sacramento this fall, along with Maggie, Jennie, and Emily.  And because at our house we believe in inviting all the kids in the class to the party, EVERYONE is invited!

We even have a button that Maggie designed!

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She is very fancy with her internet ways.  I heard a rumor she has a TEST BLOG and I really don’t even know what that is, but it sounds impressively high tech.  On the other hand she is married to a computer type person and I am married to a rock type person, so although I have a lot of very nice rocks at my disposal, I have to fix the computer using Google and the power of my mind.  Not that Maggie needs a MAN to be a computer genius, or whatever.  Never mind.

Anyhoo, we seem to be getting off the subject.

Come One, Come All, Except Stalkers – Escape to Sacramento will be hosted at my house – from Friday September 25th to Sunday September 27th.  If you’re the cramming into a tent in a backyard kind of person, we have a tent, but otherwise there is a hotel located just around the corner from my house.  We will be spending three ish glorious days wine tasting, pedicuring, shopping at H and M, lying around doing nothing, and eating carbs.  Oh, and playing Emily’s HGTV drinking game.  And best of all, sleeping through the night.

If you want to come, just let one of us know and we’ll email you with more details, the code for the button, all that kind of hoo ha.

I can’t wait to see you all, and I promise I am totally not as scary as I seem on the internet.  Also, Maggie already has her plane ticket and is clearly awesome,and Emily and Jennie are two of my most favorite internet ladies, so you have nothing to be scared of!  You know you want to come!

I am so excited! Big bloggy Secret Number One*, revealed.

P.S. *There is not Big Bloggy Secret Number Two, it just sounded better that way.

Monsters, Inc.

Some of my earliest memories are of sneaking Sesame Street on other people’s tv’s.  Although I can’t remember who the kids were, or why I was at their house.  I remember that I read them a book, and they complained to their mother that I read too fast.  She told them it wasn’t my fault, that it was because I was such a good reader.  And I remember sitting, all of us, in front of the TV, with Sesame Street, and knowing already how I was different, that in this house, Sesame Street was an ordinary thing, and in my house, it was a bad thing.

At first, in my house, we didn’t even have a television.  I tell people I had an Amish childhood, and that’s not far from the truth, because we weren’t allowed to listen to “rock music”, and once we got a tv, we could only watch one show, This Old House, once a week.  I found my Esprit catalog stuffed into the trash can in the living room and when I dug it out and asked my father why, he yelled something about trashiness and sex.  I don’t actually remember the words, just the shame.

The world scared my father, I think, made him angry.  All of his problems he traced to other people, and he had to keep those other people out.  Liberals, homosexuals, anyone with skin a shade different from his own.  And so Sesame Street, of course, wasn’t kosher in our house.  Way too much free love and acceptance for my father on that street to be watched on ours.

Having this father wasn’t easy.  He made us different, and being so different was hard on me as a kid.  I wanted nothing so much as ordinariness, to be wearing the right clothes, to come to school with Doritos and Chips Ahoy in my lunch, with a Trapper Keeper in my Esprit bag.  I spent so much of my childhood trying to hide all the wrong things my parents forced on me – hoping no one would notice that my binder was one my dad had stolen from work, that I didn’t know anything about the New Kids On the Block, that I’d never seen The Cosby Show, that we didn’t watch Sesame Street.

My mom isn’t like this – she’s about as liberal as they come.  It’s quite shocking that my parents marriage lasted as long as did, long enough to produce the three of us.  But liberal as she is, she wasn’t a cookie making mom, if you know what I mean.  Which is fine, but unfortunately, I was a cookie making kid.  I would have killed to stand over the counter with her, stirring and mixing and eating raw cookie dough.  I just wanted normal so badly, I can’t even tell you.

Eli watches Sesame Street every day.  I knew he would, from the moment I first thought about him being here.  I knew he’d get Doritos in his lunch and he’d never have the wrong shoes and I’d let him listen to whatever music he wanted to listen to.  And I knew we’d have Sesame Street on every single morning, and I’d do my very best to hand over, one day at a time, the ordinary childhood I wished so badly for.

Eli likes Elmo just fine,  and he likes Big Bird, and he likes Abby and the rest of the gang, but none of them really compare, for him, to Cookie Monster.  Eli LOOOOOVES Cookie Monster with a fiery Eli passion.  He eats all of his food Cookie Monster style now, and he wanders around the house moaning “COOOOKKKKIIIIEEEEEE” all day long. Which is to say, we’ve been making a lot of cookies.

And I have to tell you, I just couldn’t be happier about that.

Carb Load

Gluten free, gluten free, here is what it means to me.

Ahhhhhhhh, couldn’t figure out a way to start this.

So, in case you didn’t know, Eli and I are straight up 100% gluten free all the time rock on!

Eli has had the blood test for celiac disease, I have not.  His test came back negative, but that means next to nothing so we just put out fingers in our ears and say “la la la” to that.  The blood tests for celiac disease are totally unreliable.  And also because our pediatrician sucks and knows nothing about celiac disease, Eli wasn’t eating gluten at the time of the test.  All I care about is that Pants started to gain weight as soon as he started eating gluten free.  I haven’t been tested because I don’t see the point – regardless of the test results, I still wouldn’t eat wheat.  When I eat wheat, I feel like hot garbage, when I don’t, I feel fine.  So that’s pretty much all the science I need to make that decision.

I’ll tell you honestly that going gluten free really wasn’t that bad. I felt better right away, so that helped.  I have always cooked a lot, so that also helped.  Fruits and vegetables and meat and dairy are all gluten free anyway.  There’s so much food you can eat!  I can still eat rare steak and caprese salad and mashed potatoes, and honestly as long as I can eat tomatoes life can go on.

I was thinking about this the other day, reading what Jess wrote about her feelings before lap band surgery.  It reminded me a lot of my fears in the first few weeks that I went gluten free.  Luckily, it turned out that “CAN’T” is a million times easier for me than “SHOULDN’T”.  Before becoming gluten free, I spent countless hours of every grocery shopping trip ogling the cake counter, inspecting the cookie aisle, drooling over cupcakes.  Now I just skip that section and I don’t even think about it.  Much simpler that way, to be honest.  And these are always foods that I knew I should be avoiding anyway – I am not well controlled around carbs.  I can eat a loaf of crusty bread at a sitting, or nibble down a half a pan of brownies.  I have always been the type to skip the chicken and the brocolli and just eat the noodles.  Bread and I haven’t been able to be alone together in the same room since 1993, for certain.

There’s also a lot more food out there that you can eat than you might realize.  Trader Joe’s has a long gluten free list.  Whole Foods has the gluten free stuff marked on the shelves with a sticky outy green tag.  We have a gluten free store in Sacramento, which is insanely awesome, but most of my favorite stuff from there can be ordered from Amazon or directly from the manufacturer if you don’t live somewhere with so many resources. In a nutshell though:  Tinkyada pasta is awesome, anything from Pamela’s is great, but especially the baking mix, with which you can make chocolate chip cookies that no one can tell are gluten free, I wouldn’t even bother with all those little bags of rice flour, just get the Pamela’s stuff, you need some gluten free tamari instead of soy sauce, you need to read every label before you know what’s safe, and you can’t eat pizza or drink beer anymore. You might want to buy a new toaster.

Sometimes I cheat, and it’s almost always for ramen noodles or pizza, and then it makes me sick, and I regret it, but dude, there’s  just nothing else like a slice of pineapple pizza from Pizza Hut or a chicken flavored cup a noodles.

No one makes bread that’s as good as good as bread loaded with gluten.  Sandwiches aren’t ever going to be the same, but there are some breads that are almost as good toasted, and I can live with that. I make versions of my favorite sandwiches wrapped in lettuce and I find myself surprised at how delicious they are.

You can eat the “protein” style hamburger at In and Out and their french fries are safe, but anywhere else you need to make sure that battered fried food isn’t cooked in the same fryer as the fries.

And avoid anything with bean flour in it, it’s disgusting.

Rice Chex are gluten free! Awesome.

Honestly, the first couple of weeks that I went gluten free I was reading “Heat” and watching “Top Chef” and I was well and truly pissed off about the bread and pasta situation, but I just don’t care anymore.  We make the best of the hand we are dealt and that’s that.

The other reality is that eating gluten free is pretty expensive.  A bag of pasta can cost anywhere from $4 to $5 dollars.  A large bag of baking mix is $16.99.  A tiny little loaf of gluten free bread at the farmer’s market is $6 dollars.  But I just can’t worry about that.   I could worry about it until the end of time, and it wouldn’t change anything.  I could choose never to make chocolate chip cookies, because a bag of flour is $16.99, but if you could Eli’s best imitation of Cookie Monster (“COOOOOKKKKIEEEE!!!!”) you’d know that wasn’t even remotely an option, his mama is gonna make him some cookies!  So I plunk down my six dollars and go on my merry way and that’s just that.

The strange thing is that this gluten free thing has completely changed my life, and I never would have known that I had a wheat allergy or celiac disease or a gluten intolerance or whatever you want to call it if it hadn’t been for Eli and his mysterious weight loss.  I always assumed I had IBS and I didn’t feel like not ever again eating onions or tomatoes or coffee so I just ignored my stomach.  And then I stopped eating gluten and I stopped having terrible bloating and gas and feeling sick every night of my life! Imagine that!

For those of you wondering – without going into graphic detail – it was not as simple for me and my complicated guts as “Oh, I ate a doughnut! Now I feel sick!” Instead, for me, other random things  (onions, eggs, salad, unpeeled tomatoes, beets, etc) made me sick, all the time.  It got so that every night I had a huge bloated stomach, terrible intestinal pain, and really bad diarhhrea.  But it wasn’t a simple “eat gluten=feel horrible immediately” relationship, which is why I thought I had IBS or just a sensitive stomach.  My theory (based on no medical knowledge whatsoever) is that gluten irritates my intestines to the point that I can’t properly digest other things, but regardless, I can eat onions again, so color me happy.

Slynnro has also written about this if you want to read her take on it, which is a lot more interesting and informative than what I have to say, probably, but I am guessing she didn’t have a toddler screaming “BOBICLE!” at her the whole time she wrote it, so there!

Honestly the only thing that’s really floored about me about going gluten free is that I never ever ever in a million years would have figured it out if it weren’t for my son.  From the mouth of babes, indeed.

The Days We Grow Up On

I know I have said this before, but one of the reasons it took me so long to decide that I wanted to have kids was because I never really felt grown up enough to be a mom.  When I thought of myself as a mother I seemed light years away from the way I think of my own mom.  I still feel like I could not have my shit less together – I see this world full of high powered blog ladies out there and everyone seems so much more self possessed and capable than I do.  I’m still sort of shocked that they let me have a library card and a cat, much less a child.

For awhile I thought that maybe you never really get there – that adult hood is an illusion and maybe you just continued on feeling not ready and it didn’t matter because to your children you were a grown up, ready or not.  Your neck was the one that your two day old son had to be squished up into to be able to fall asleep and so there you were, a mom, and no one was going to ask you if you felt ready at that point.  Readiness was no longer the point.

And then I thought that maybe growing into motherhood happened gradually.  This morning I still felt more like a 12 year old than a 32 year old.  I may have announced that if were having nachos for dinner I was going to have to put my fat pants on, so obviously maturity isn’t my foremost character trait.  But I thought maybe by the time I had 3 kids and a mini van and was blowing out 45 candles on a birthday cake, maybe then I would feel like an adult.  Somewhere down the road, I’d feel like a grown up.

But today Eli had his blood drawn again, and I held him down while they fished for a vein and he cried in a way I can’t even describe, not the hysterical wailing I was prepared for, not the “I just hit my head on the coffee table” kind of crying, but a slow, sad, keening “what are they doing to me and why are you letting them?” crying and as the nurse fished for a vein I can tell you right now that I had to reach somewhere deep in side myself with all the power I had not to scrabble across the table and rip that needle from my son’s arm and scream “leave my baby alone”.  I wanted nothing more than to hold him to my heart and run as far away as I could with him, to run somewhere where no one could get us and his crying would stop.  But I did not do any of that.  I held him down and I kissed the white blond top of his head and I said I am so so sorry over and over again and I did not cry because I knew it would make it worse for him, and I didn’t want him to be scared.

Later on today I thought about how much I wanted to take him away from there, about how I wanted it more than anything I can think of right now.   I wondered if maybe I should have followed my instincts and run.  But  of course, that isn’t what grown ups do.  They know better.  They ignore what they want to do, and do what they have to do.  They do the right thing, no matter how hard it is, no matter that it hurts more than it should.

I have finally figured it out, this growing up thing.  I know now.

It turns out that we grow up in instants.  In seconds.  In moments faster than the blink of an eye.

Hang Ups

So, what’s your opinion of hanging clothes outside to dry?

At our last house, our dryer broke (a month before my due date!) and I was SO pissed off about having to spend money to replace something that we already owned that I insisted we could just hang up all of our laundry to dry and pranced around declaring that we didn’t even need a dryer and in Europe no one even owns dryers (true) and that it was better for the environment and I like hanging up clothes and then the rainy season started and I was nine months pregnant drying off after showers with scratchy towels that smelled like gas fumes, and we went out to Home Depot and bought a dryer tha weekend.

Laundry is one of those things that really stresseds me out, for some reason.  It can’t be done all at once.  There’s always some stage of it needing attention – I can never seem to get it out of the dryer and folded and put away all in the same day.  There’s stages of laundry all over my tiny house all the freaking time.  It drives me nuts because clothes stacked everywhere makes our very small space seem so much smaller.  But then a few weekends ago, maybe my new meds kicked in or something just snapped or god knows what really goes on in that brain of mine, I didn’t even plan it, I sware, but I just…stopped doing the laundry.  It piled up dirty and I just felt so much better about it.  There were no stacks of clothes waiting to be put away, no clothes that I should be transferring to the dryer, nothing waiting to be folded on my bed.  Freedom!

Eventually Mr. E did some laundry (how about that!) and when it was washed he went out and erected a fantastic series of lines zigzagging all around our carport and hung the laundry out to dry, and while honestly it’s not keeping me up at night or anything I was just wondering what everyone thought about clotheslines?

I think we have reached a good compromise…after I looked at the zigzagging mismatched ropes looping around the back porch and shook my head and said “This is SO Mr. E”, we put up some bicycle hooks and tied some rope onto some chain and stretched the clothesline across the very back of the yard. It can’t be seen from the street and because of the chain on the end it is easily taken down and coiled onto one of the hooks so it’s out of the way.  We no longer live in a neighborhood full of exhaust fumes so the clothes smell nice after they’re line dried.  And it does save energy and it is kind of fun, and we do have a dryer, so I don’t HAVE to use the clothesline for towels or on rainy days or if I just don’t feel like it.  It is way better for the environment and I’d like to say that it gives me that good kind of hippie “I love the earth” feeling but mostly it makes me wonder “is this kind of trashy, that I have my underwear hanging up in my backyard?”

So what do you think?  Do you ever dry your clothes outside, or do you think I’m a freak show for even suggesting it?  Besides that fact that I’m obviously a total freak show for writing over 500 words about my CLOTHES LINE.