The Blathering 2012: New Orleans!

Just in case you’re not on Twitter, registration for the Blathering 2012 (aka the best weekend of the whole year) opened today.  Hope to see you there, and by the way I’m totally ready to eat 10,000 beignets.




Booty Call

Ok, people, I need your help.

For Christmas, from Mr. E, I am asking for a pair of boots. A MYTHICAL pair of boots, it would appear, although you’d think it wouldn’t be that hard.  So here’s what I want:

Real leather, brown, and easy on and easy off, so I can just throw them on and off really easily as I run in and out of the house.  Preferably with no weird laces or buckles, and I’d rather have a pull on style or a side zipper if I can get away with it. Warm because my feet are very cold, so I’m thinking shearling lined? Not slippery on the bottom, and also they need to be waterproof because it’s going to rain for the next five months.  Not too tall but not short, either. And cute! They need to be cute.

I was eyeing these from LL Bean, but I’m worried they’re too clunky and the bottoms will be slippery.  Although I really enjoy the preppy 1955 plaid shirt vibe they’re giving me…

Anyone got any super cute awesome boots they’re loving? Or suggestions of place to go shop that don’t involve me fending off the hordes at REI?

What’s Wrong With Me?

Let’s talk about anxiety and depression, because nothing says Happy Thanksgiving! like a big old chat about mental health, am I right?

So, essentially all my life I have been a little high strung.  A little shy.  A little bit of the type of person who has a hard time with change and new things.  I’ve been that way since day one, so I hear, from my mama.

There were times that these issues were worse than others.  There were times in high school when I just wanted to not be in high school.  There were times in college when I felt adrift and I had no idea what I was doing.  There were a few times when I felt sad for no reason, especially when fall rolled around every year, but all those times, I could always pull myself out of the funk, all on my own, or I could see that those circumstances would end.  (Thank god high school only lasts for four  years.)

Then I had Eli, and then he got the failure to thrive diagnosis, and suddenly, things were different.  Worse.  I felt lost.  And it was not that my feelings of depression felt insurmountable, because I was not at a point where I thought “here’s what I need to do to get out of this but I can’t do that.”  I had no idea what I needed to do to get out it.  I was lost.  My only strategy was to cry, and to yell at my  husband.  That was pretty much the extent of my coping strategies.  Crying and yelling.

It finally got so bad that I realized I needed help, and I got help, and it’s been much better since then.  The truth is that I would prefer not to be medicated, and it’s not because I am afraid of the social stigma of anti depressants or because I hate pharmaceuticals or because I am anti doctors, but simply because the side effects suck, especially when you’re the kind of person with a dicey stomach who gains weight at the drop of a hat.  Anyway, it is what it is.

But the thing is for me it’s never that simple.  Because I am a self blamer and I like to know where I went wrong, because I assume it’s my fault and I need to figure out what I did so I can fix it.  It’s hard to complain about anything on a blog because inevitably if you are a stay at home parent someone will tell you that you should get a job.  That you need to go on more play dates.  That you should send your kids to mom’s day out.  That you need to spend more time alone.  That you should spend less money or make more money or read a certain book or buy a certain pair of pants or lose weight or start running or eat more vegetables.  There are so many ways to fail.

Whatever it is, people think you should do it or not do it, and I am not one of those people that think “Suck it! Who cares what you think?!”

Instead, I am one of those people who already thinks these things about myself. I already spend A LOT of my time wondering if this is my fault because I don’t have a job, or because I don’t do Mom’s Day Out or because I signed up for two days of preschool instead of three or because I need to lose weight or WHATEVER. If it can be fretted over, I have fretted over it.  If there’s a way that this could be my fault, if there’s a way that this depression could be a failure of mine, I have already assumed that the fault is mine, yes, one million times over.  This is why I take it hard when people tell me it’s something I did or did not do, that I am doing something wrong. I already feel like that.  So it’s just extra reinforcement, added onto my own bad feelings about myself, my own doubts.

And then I started noticing that A LOT of mothers of young children that I knew were on anti depressants, and so then I started wondering if collectively, as a group, we had failed.  If ALL OF US were doing something wrong.  If ALL OF US were fooling ourselves, because otherwise, why were so many of us on medication?  Should we all be at work? WHAT WERE WE ALL DOING WRONG?!

Then one day I got into an email discussion with a friend of mine who is also on anti depressants, and who works part time, and somehow in the course of this discussion it was as if someone gave me a “Get out of jail free” card for fretting about WHY I was depressed, because she assured me that it had nothing to do with working, or not working, and we had a long talk about why this all was and it made me realize some things about life now and life then.

My life has been changed in ways I could only ever imagine.  Before I had kids, I spent every Sunday cleaning my house.  I spent all my disposable income on lattes and clothing.  I had endless amounts of time to myself, for long runs and sleeping in and baking and watching Gray’s Anatomy and making salads and long phone calls with friends.  I ran three half marathons.  I went to the movies every Friday night.  I threw parties and I had a really really clean house. I had a structured careful world, all the things I needed to stave off anxiety, all carefully stacked around me, protecting me, keeping me calm.

And then I had kids, and honestly, my kids make my anxious.  There! I said it! MY KIDS MAKE ME ANXIOUS.  This is not because I am a bad person, and this is not because they are bad children.  This is how I am wired.  I am always wondering what else they will do. I am always nervous that they are about to start crying.  I am always wondering when they are going to do something awful  in public.  They are so damn unpredictable, and you never know what they might do next, and whether it’s going to be awful.  My children are like ticking time bombs, and they could go off at any minute.  They do go off at any minute, and it makes me anxious, and my whole support system, my running time and my tv time and my relaxation time and my Sunday cleaning time, it’s gone.  It’s just gone.  All that time for all those things is gone.

One of the reasons I know this is true, that my children make me anxious, is because my husband is my parenting inverse. (THANK GOD FOR MY HUSBAND.!)  Our children do not make him anxious, because hardly anything makes him anxious.   Sometimes they annoy him, but they do not stress him out.  He is not worried about the next thing they are going to do in the aisles of Target.  He is not waiting for the other shoe to drop.  You can just tell.  And it’s not because he’s better than I am, or because he’s taken some awesome parenting classes or because he has a job.  It’s because he was made that way, and I was made this way.  It’s just how it is, and seeing that makes me realize the futility of blame.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I don’t want those things back.  Those things sound like lonely ways to spend my time, from where I sit today. I don’t want to spend all Sunday cleaning my house all by myself.  A clean house is not more important than my children, or my family.  But that doesn’t change the fact that a clean house makes me feel centered, and sane, and calm, in a way that almost nothing else does.

A few months ago I was talking to my psychiatrist about my new anti depressant, and how well it was working, because I think it’s actually working quite well.  I have moments of genuine joy.  I feel happy many times a day.  I yell less.  Some things still make me anxious, but only ahead of time, not for hours afterwards, not to the detriment of my whole life.  I’m having fun, over here. I really really am.

But it is not PERFECT.  I am not a whole new person. I am not floating on air and walking on sunshine.  I still frustrated and I still yell and I still feel overwhelmed a thousand times a day. I still get raging PMS.  I am not calm and level and self centered, I am far from perfect.

And as I was telling all this to my doctor, she leaned over and she said “This may be as good as it gets.  You have a really stressful job.”

And damn it, if that isn’t true as all get out.  I have a REALLY STRESSFUL JOB.

For sure, I am doing the hardest job I have ever done.  Taking care of these two children is a really really hard job, and if anyone else I knew was doing a job THIS HARD, I would expect them to be stressed.  I would expect them to be tired. I would expect them to be anxious. I would expect that it would affect their life in a big big way.  I don’t know why I am so hard on my self when these very same things happen to me.

I have finally realized, maybe just now, that it is possible, that actually?  There’s nothing wrong with me.  I am simply a person who likes predictability, living an unpredictable life.  I am person who likes quiet and calm, living in the midst of chaos.  I am a person who likes a clean house, living in the midst of a never ending mess.  I am a person who likes to check off a job as finished, doing a thousand jobs that never end.  I am person who needs a lot of sleep who never gets enough.  I am a person who doesn’t like change, living an everchanging life.

I am doing a job I love.  But it’s a really hard job, and it makes me anxious, and I take a little pill every day, and it helps.

I have some things I could work on, as I think we all do, and I have some things I could do better.  There are books I want to read about how to deal with children who growl like dinosaurs for 18 hours a day. I could get out more. I could spend less time on the internet.

But I’m finally starting to believe, for the first time in a long time, that when you get right down to it? This is not my fault.  There’s nothing wrong with me.  And I am doing the best I can.

Candle Time

Let me tell you about Candle Time!

Candletime is a made up thing that I first read about over on Ask Moxie…you are all reading Moxie, right? I shudder to imagine a world in which I am forced to raise children without Ask Moxie in my bookmarks and Arwen available via email.

Anyway, the gist of Candle Time is that every night from November 1st until Thanksgiving, you light candles in the evening and have a little family time, as a way to make the month of November just about THIS TIME, instead of BALLS TO THE WALL CHRISTMAS IN YOUR FACE for two freaking months.

We have altered this slightly to suit our family and so this year since November 1st, we’ve been having dinner by candlelight.

It is totally awesome.  First of all, I LOVE having dinner by candlelight.  Everything is just more beautiful and special.  I loved it when I was a little girl and I love it now.  And what better way to enjoy the fact that it’s pitch black at 4:30 PM than to have a nice candle lit dinner?

And the kids love it.  Well, at least Eli loves it.  Sometimes we forget Candle Time and he’s the one who reminds us, and he is in charge of snuffing out the candles when dinner is over.  It’s really just a few votives scattered down the middle of the table and a few other candles stuck in jars, and it’s just a tiny bit more effort than regular dinner, but it’s been so nice.  I look around at my kids and my family and I think to myself “This is a GREAT tradition.”

Totally recommend.


Thanksgiving Table Settings

So far this year I’m way more excited about the Thanksgiving place settings than am I am about the food.

I do love a good over the top Thanksgiving table setting.

The table  cloth here is my canvas painter’s tarp.  I don’t know.  It’s huge so it’s nice and drapey and romantic.  Kind of reminds me of a Meatloaf video.  But it also is giving me a sort of icky “this was on the floor” vibe (although I did wash it twice) and it’s reading a little more putty than I wanted. I was hoping that this part of Thanksgiving could be free, but I might have to go see what Dwell is shilling at Target right now.

I try to keep the center of the table pretty open for all the food but before we put everything out I’ll have some flowers in the center of the table.  Thank god for Trader Joe’s and their cheap flowers.  Even if they did poison me with their dirty lettuce.

I really wish I didn’t still have this godawful silverware, but it is what it is.  New floors = no new silverware.

Anyway.  I ordered the little square boxes from Etsy, I think I’ll fill them with a piece of chocolate and maybe a piece of candied ginger?  Then inside I will put a little piece of paper that reads “We are thankful for Sara’s smile!” or something like that.

This is reading a tad austere for my taste though.  Maybe a different vase for the flowers.  Probably need a real tablecloth.  Maybe some crazy napkins. We’ll have to see what I can rustle up.

And if you don’t think I am making apples into little votive holders for my wall candle dealio then you have another think coming.


Thanksgiving in Menus

The other day Sarah was talking about how much she loves reading Thanksgiving and Christmas menus, and I must admit this is also one of my guilty pleasures.  One of my favorite things about my copy of Edna Lewis’s Taste of Country Cooking are the menus, just the other night I was reading them out loud to Erik at the dinner table while we talked about what we should have for Christmas Eve dinner.  She eats Oyster Stew for Chrismas Eve, just like my parents, and she doesn’t have Thanksgiving Dinner, for some odd reason, but check out this menu for Christmas Dinner:

Roast Chicken with Dressing

Whipped White Potatoes

Baked Rabbit

Steamed Wild Watercress

Lima Beans in Cream

Spiced Seckel Pears

Sweet Cucumber Pickles

Grape Jelly


Hot Mince Pie

Persimmon Pudding with Clear Sauce


Coconut Layer Cake

Caramel Fudge and Chocolate Fudge

Divinity Cream


Bowl of Oranges, Raisins, Brazil Nuts, Almonds

Blackberry Wine


Holy cats, I don’t really think that’s enough desserts for Christmas dinner, do you?

But seriously, forget Thanksgiving, someday I want to cook THAT.

I also have two other “someday I’m going to cook that” meals.

The picnic from Best Friends for Frances:

Hard-boiled eggs and whole fresh tomatoes. Carrot and celery sticks.There are some cream cheese- and chive sandwiches, I think and cream cheese and jelly sandwiches too, and salami-and egg and pepper- and egg- sandwiches.Cole slaw and potato chips and of course Ice-cold root beer packed in ice, and watermelon and strawberries and cream for dessert…

And the fair dinner from Farmer Boy:

At last he and Father got places at the long table in the dining-room.  Everyone was merry, talking and laughing, but Almanzo simply ate.  He ate ham and chicken and turkey, and dressing and cranberry jelly; he ate potatoes and gravy, succotash, baked beans and boiled beans and and opnions, and white bread and and rye ‘n’ injun bread, and sweet pickles and jam and preserves.  Then he drew a long breath, and he ate pie.

When he began to eat pie, he wished he had eaten nothing else.  He ate a piece of pumpkin pie and a piece of custard pie, and he ate almost a piece of vinegar pie.  He tried a piece of mince pie, but could not finish it.  He just couldn’t do it.  There were berry pies and and cream pies and vinegar pies and raisin pies, but he could not eat any more.

Awesome, right?

For Thanksgiving, we are going old school this year.

So we’re having:

Overpriced turkey, stuffing which I am not making, mashed potatoes, rosemary rolls, both kinds of cranberry sauce from a can, green salad (maybe?) with homemade ranch dressing, ambrosia salad (my favorite thing), brussels sprouts with pancetta, yams which someone else is also making, and pumpkin pie which Eli and I are making from a pumpkin, as per his request.

And probably some kind of beverage.

I am actually more excited about the table setting than I am about the food, so look forward to a scintillating post on that very soon.

Ten Things I Love About You

1. The way you walk in a room, throw open your arms, and scream “OOOOOOOH!” every single time you put on a new piece of clothing.

2. The way you look all over the house, desperate to find me, calling “Mama? Mama? MAMA?” and toddling as fast as you can.

3. The hair.  DUDE.  That is some crazy crazy hair.








4. Your squishy little thighs, the way your bottom fits right on the curve of my hip, the way your soft fluffy head fits right up under my chin.

5. The fact that you refuse to eat something unless its from a spoon or a fork that you are holding.

6. The little babbling sounds that come from the back of the car.

7. The way you love that stupid cat with the fire of a thousand suns.

8. Your joy.  The joy of Katie just bubbles out into the world and it’s greater than anything I’ve ever seen.

9. The way you love your brother.  You believe him to be the greatest thing the world has ever known, and you just might be right.

10. Your astonishing being.

(Let me clarify.)

When your brother was born I knew just who he was.  He was me, in a tiny boy form, and I loved and adored him and not too many things he ever did surprised me very much.  He was just what I was expecting.

And then came you, and a thousand times a day I look down at you and think “Woah. Who ARE you, and where did you come from?”  I NEVER thought you would be like this. You are such a new new person, such a mystery, and you have just shocked the hell right out of me.  And I can honestly say that you are the most delightful surprise I have ever known.