Thursday, December 19, 2013

Snow, Ice, and Ativan

It seems to have happened again. Winter has managed to sneak up early and wrap her icy grip around our house and around my heart. Accompanying the layers of powdery white snow that covers every branch and surface of our small New England town, and the darkness that ensconces us at 4pm, comes the heavy feeling of profound worry that eats me up inside.

Call it what you will, seasonal affects disorder (SAD, my favorite acronym of all time), or just the normal reaction to a dark, cold, depressing reality, it really only makes sense to hibernate. No reasonable people should be expected to stay awake all winter, it's just not natural. Except for those skiers, they've got it made, lucky bastards. A whole season for fun downhill swish-swashing and jolly hot chocolate drinking in the lodge, that might be a good solution, but probably not going to happen. (Note: I have lived in New England for most of my life and I have never once even touched a pair of skis).

My reaction to the winter misery is to have gripping, powerful anxiety surrounding winter driving and airplane travel. The way I become aware that the season is really changing is when I start to imagine I am on a plane while falling asleep in my bed each night. I feel the feeling of take off as I lie there, and the panic starts to wash over me as I realize I am trapped like a rat on a moving vessel I can't control. Except for that I'm not, I'm in my bed and I'm fine. Holy fuck, I think, is this what crazy feels like? Where did that Ativan run off to?

I am fighting one of my winter fear battles especially hard this week, the winter driving. Unfortunately Mother Nature has made this one particularly challenging quite early this year, as we have been pummeled with snow and ice and the roads are complete shit almost everywhere you turn. I had no idea how lame the Honda Odyssey is to drive in the snow. Man, that bad boy can skid on even the simplest of turns. So yesterday I strained the hell out of my credit card and invested in studded snow tires. An expensive, yet amazing investment in my sanity and my family's safety. The difference is uncanny, I am not sure why I hadn't thought of this before (or why I perhaps didn't think to buy a car with 4 wheel drive when I am pretty sure I will live here forever).

This morning I am trying desperately to motivate to get all of the pre-Christmas errands done before I head in for three nights of work, but the urge to stay nestled by the fire in my unattractive long underwear and bed mussed hair is a strong and powerful force. But no! The car needs to be inspected! We are out of milk! But it's sooooo cold out there. I will probably get it together soon and force myself to get this crap done so I can hurry back to the living room and hunker down once more. Maybe I'll go out and do some major donuts with my new snow tires, that'll show you Winter.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Lawn Gnome in the Living Room

As many of you already know, my husband had surgery two weeks ago for an ongoing spinal injury. He was nervous about going under the knife, as any reasonable person would be. This was his first time having anything major done, his first experience with anesthesia, his first time spending the night in the hospital. It seemed normal for him to feel apprehensive about everything. I started to worry about the recovery process, however, about a week or so before the surgery, when he slumped about the house (in too much pain to do much of anything) breathing heavy, anxious sighs every ten minutes or so, rolling his eyes towards the heavens, and calling everyone he knew to say goodbye "just in case". Dear God. 

The surgery went about as smooth as could be expected, health wise he was recovering appropriately, but it became clear to me from hospital day one that maybe wives shouldn't be their husband's nurse maids. We snapped and snipped at each other while he moaned and writhed in pain. "Help me change position", "No! Not like THAT!", "Aargh! What do you want from me?!", "I'm not an invalid you know, now help me put on my socks!", "Do you want me to make you soup? What more can I do?!" Ugh, it wasn't pretty. 

We have spent long hours the past two weeks up in the middle of the night with him trying to find a comfortable position, discussing his bowel habits in great detail, and me trying to drum up the same compassion I have for my patients in the hospital, or my kids when they're sick. I'm embarrassed to admit how challenging it has been to really feel anything besides annoyed at how long it is taking for him to get better. Do other people feel this way when their mate is out of commission? Does this make me a bad person? A bad wife? Probably. I'm sure a better woman would feel terribly concerned, dote endlessly, and never want to scream out in irritation when grumbled at from the sofa to change his bandage for the fifth time that day. 

I felt especially guilty this week when he was able to get around enough to make a sloooww painful trip to the store to buy me flowers to thank me for taking care of him. Oh the guilt and shame. But he was so whiny! But I'm an asshole. Perhaps it's a bit of both. He is one whiny, sniveling, annoying sick person. And I suck at taking care of him. Thank god I take care of pregnant women and not injured relatives. And I will maintain that men are not as tough at getting through surgery as women. This must be a documented fact somewhere. It must. 

I guess the reality is that it's hard to see your mate as anything other than your strong hardworking partner. And having your husband planted in the living room like a lawn ornament watching endless reruns of Law and Order can get awfully old after three solid weeks, especially when there is no recognizable end in sight. Regardless, I'm feeling like a pretty callous person at the moment, and trying hard to channel my frustration with the situation into a positive force. It really could be much worse, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't survive that. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Dusty Road To Done

I think it's fairly obvious to all within a five mile radius of my Facebook page that we are living in a construction site while our house is being renovated. Having bought a century-old farmhouse with way too many walls, we have spent the past month creating some open space. We have had the wall removed between our kitchen and living room, and are adding a wood floor and a wood stove to our main living area. Albeit a small project, it is both magical in the transformation in our home, and slightly miserable for our lifestyle while we await completion. 

When I began thinking about this transformation I did not consider how long it would take to make things happen. I thought that, given the relative smallness of the project, it would take two weeks, maybe three. Now over four weeks in and with no clue as to how much longer, I realize that I may have been a bit naive. 

The floors went in today, and by golly, it felt like a home makeover TV show. Stunning transformation from our carpet/linoleum number. Unfreakingbelievable. Francisco and I both waltzed around the fumy living room in complete awe and a bit of a polyurethane haze. The wood stove has been positioned where it will eventually live, and -gasp- removed from its crate, and the walls have been repainted and are ready to go. 

A thick layer of construction dust is still covering every surface, not to be removed until the renovation is finished, and the entire contents of our kitchen are still sausaged into the hallway, but the light is visible at the end of the tunnel. I can finally see how this will drastically improve our quality of life, and maybe curb some of my never ending wanderlust. Maybe. I know I will revel in my new found open space. I'm just hoping the fumes dissipate before my kids' chances of getting into college are completely squashed.  

The Ruins

The almost completed floor

Monday, September 23, 2013

Stewing in Your Own Juices

As many of you know, this weekend included the arrival of a very special new addition to our family: the hot tub. I have been waiting many years to make this dream of mine a reality and now - ta dah! - dream actualized. Very exciting. And yes, the first soak made it incredibly clear to me why I have wanted this for so long. What is more lovely than taking a super hot bath and being naked in your own backyard as powerful jets massage away your upper back tension? It's all glorious and heavenly. Until the water starts to smell. Really really bad. 

It turns out the pool store I bought my chemicals from (and relied on to fully instruct me in all ways of hot tub care and maintenence) seemed to have someone under qualified working the desk the moment I popped in to buy my chemicals. Bad advice and lack of my usual internet prowess lead to an unfortunate build up of imbalanced spa chemicals after our first three days of Roman bath-like hot tub use. It turns out that the hot tub is not actually a mini pool for kids to jump in at their leisure (much to their dismay), and you can only sausage so many people into the tub so many times a day before you really need to manage the situation. Otherwise you end up with a tub that smells eerily like the YMCA locker room on a Saturday afternoon, and water that resembles alka seltzer. Not good. 

The good news is that all hope is not lost. I returned to the pool store today and replenished my supply of chemicals, and insisted on a full length tutorial from a new and seemingly knowledgable salesperson. I got home and spent the better part of the afternoon rectifying the situation, and the water is now sparkling clean and smells like water. Lesson learned and I'll be back in full on soaking action tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Traveler Stays Home

It's official: I have shocked myself with my own lack of traveling ambition. 

A quintessential part of my personality is that I love to go places. This is no secret, anyone who knows me knows that I am always loading my kids up and heading out somewhere, or (more likely) daydreaming about my next adventure. I think that was why I was so surprised this morning when I woke up and thought "I just want to stay home." 

It doesn't help that both kids and I woke up feeling a little under the weather. Nathan has the kind of cough that makes you think that he might get knock-down-ginger-ale sick, or could be fine tomorrow. For now it is all just a tickle of sickness, but somehow that's all it took for me this morning to forgo our four day trip to one of my favorite towns in Pennsylvania with one of my all time favorite people. Pretty unheard of for this gal, but it's true, I just want to stay home today. 

Perhaps it is the craziness of the new school year. Or maybe it's the fact that construction is going to start in our living room in a couple of weeks and then being home will become royally unpleasant and I'll be scratching at the door to get anywhere I can find an open door or a spare cot. Whatever the reason, for now I am sticking around, a choice that may be regretted after just one day of inevitable whining and fighting, but so be it. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Keeping up with the Cosmes

Forget the Kardashians. These days I am barely able to keep up with my own family. I feel like someone should give me a reality show, except that it would be the most boring show of all time as every episode would take place inside my minivan, with the exception of a few hours spent in a preschool gym. This might still be preferable to the fashion dilemmas of the collagen-lipped Kardashian sisters, but not by much.

This school season our roster increased with the addition of my lovely stepson Carlos to our year round household, and I am shocked at how exponential the busyness is when you go up from two to three kids. Yowsers. Football, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, dance, playdates, sleepovers, school, appointments, and oh yes, work. Total insanity. I am unsure if we will ever have a meal together again that isn't in the car on the way somewhere. When am I supposed to make dinner when there is barely time to take a crap? Maybe those things could be done at the same time, but then no one would ever visit us for dinner again.

Are all families like this? Is this chaos universal in the modern day household? If so, there is a major flaw in this plan. When are families supposed to decompress and spend time together? This hectic lifestyle does not seem conducive to a healthy life.

I know that I feel this way at the beginning of every school year, and every year we get into the groove eventually, but I can never remember when that happens, so I am hoping it's soon. Until then I will keep on checking my calendar to make sure I'm not forgetting anyone, and try like hell to savor every moment of down time that comes my way.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Camping with the Cosmes: Notes from the overplanned mother.

Well, the Cosmes have now officially been camping. Woah. Actually, it's not all that exciting or stellar news, but it merits a blog post as it is hard to get my husband out of the house to do anything, let alone something he LIKES. That may, in fact, be quite extraordinary.

So we went to Tully Lake in Royalston for two nights. Not far away or overly adventurous, strategically planned so there would not be an excess of whining from either my husband or any of the three kids. Easy drive, site close to parking lot so there wasn't a lot of dragging stuff in, bathrooms nearby, meals planned, pretty nice.

And then we get home and I'm hit with the realization that I have spent weeks planning something so simple it is gone in two days, and I've barely noticed when it's passed.

Sure, we had a lovely time kayaking around the lake, and sleeping in our cozy tents. Grilling outside on the fire was a big hit for Francisco, who channeled life in the Dominican down by the river. But does it need to be so hard?

I'm thinking the answer is no. I am giving up the plan-plan-plan for quick vacations to make everyone happy. My goal for whatever next trip we go on (and if you know me you can pretty much expect it will happen any day now) is to just GO. Throw some clothes in a bag and worry about what happens when we get there. Enough packing, list-making, meal-planning crap. I don't care who has fun or who is missing their underwear, I seem to be draining all of my energy over planning and then can barely get it together to enjoy our trip.

The highlight of our two day camping adventure was Francisco's joyful expression as he set the platter of perfectly cooked chicken wings in front of us all and gleefully announced "Now THAT'S how you do some grill!" I think maybe that quote alone made my weekend.

So quote me on this people: my next vacation goal is to be agenda-free and see what happens. I have the feeling that might work better for me next time, although it has great potential to backfire and bite me in the ass (picture two kids with no socks and cold wet feet crying out in hunger in the middle of the night from our half-prepared tent). Well, we'll just have to see how it goes.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Virginia Beach: Wish I Was There

We have spent this week along the glorious shore of Virginia Beach. I think for years I associated Virginia Beach with some kind of honky tonk haven for crop tops and mullets. I'm not sure why that is, it couldn't be farther from the truth. Perhaps I have mistaken it for somewhere else (Hampton beach perhaps?). I don't know. The reality is that Virginia Beach is a lovely little stretch of Atlantic with a lively and upbeat atmosphere, something I had no idea I was missing.

I would love to be out strolling the beach on this glorious sunny April morning. It's about 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, a vision for the sunbathers and shell seekers milling about out my hotel room window. The beach is almost deserted, I could have it all to myself if not for the sick child occupying the other half of my suite. Poor Nay has a stomach bug, and he is all but comatose today, so his mommy is confined to the indoors and the small oceanfront balcony that gives me the glimmer into the frolicking and smiling that is happening down below.

I have to be honest about why this sick-on-vacation scenario is really not as bad as it could be. First of all, I am traveling with another mom. A competent, been-through-that mother who has scurried my other child away to play mini golf so that I might lie around here eating pizza and watching catch up episodes of The Voice while Nathan moans away in the next room. One of the best things about Ainsley is that she is totally flexible and very understanding. She doesn't care at all that we have to spend another night here when we should be back on the road home, and thank god for that because I don't think getting in the car with this weak little person would be possible right now. Kudos to her good sportsmanship in this rough and tumble game of mothering.

The other reason this doesn't suck as much as it could is the fantastic Holiday Inn and Suites Resort in Virginia Beach. Let me give this amazing hotel the shout out they deserve. Here's why they rock:

1. They had no problems with us extending our check out, and then deciding to just not leave at all. No hassle, just hang around as long as you'd like.

2. They have free washers and dryers. Boo-ya. The kids clothes have started to smell a lot like pee. And I'm out of underwear.

3. I am in a suite, and it's cheap. That means that there is a door between my sleeping sick child and the cackling away of my laptop, and we are all very comfortable. Plus the view is outstanding.

4. They brought me lots and lots of towels, new bed sheets, and a razor to shave my legs. Hallelujah. 

5. Kids eat free. This is bitchin'. We have five kids with us (well, only four who can eat right now, but you get my drift). I hate spending money on tiny chicken nugget meals only to have them picked at with a disgruntled little face and then turned away from. Hooray for free food.

So here I am until further notice. Holed up with my laptop and a view of the water. Not really the end of the world, but I hope my little guy is feeling better soon so he can get back in the action before it's time to wind our way back home.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Very Sad Good Bye

Yesterday we said good-bye to a good friend. My good friend Joe passed away at the young age of 43 after a long battle with various health problems and hospitalizations. My dad, brother, and I learned that his condition was end stage just Thursday, and we hurried into the hospital on Friday to say goodbye to him. He passed just as we arrived, life leaving his body and traveling into the great beyond, a beautiful soul bidding farewell to those of us left behind.

Joe was a gentle soul with a brilliant mind. Unfailingly kind, I don't think he had a malicious bone in his body. His tolerance for others spread to anyone who met him. He was jolly by nature and inspired laughter within minutes of being around him.

Joe became known to our family in 2000, when he worked with my dad at a travel magazine. He became part of our adopted family in the following years. His blood family lived far away, spread out across the US and in Ghana, his country of birth. Joe was always present with us at holidays, family dinners, and special occasions, it was always assumed that Joe would have a spot at our table, he was one of us. When Francisco met Joe upon moving here in 2005 they became fast friends, bonding over their skin colors and their love of weird stewed meats. They traded website work for home cooked meals and formed a tight bond that lasted up until the end.

Joe was as much like a brother to me as my own flesh. I loved him despite his inability to care for himself the way he deserved, in spite of his lifelong battle with addiction. His good heart and loving personality shone through each time I spoke to him. He was a person worth caring about. I carry him in my heart now and forever. I hope that more people can aspire to be as kind to others as Joe, and that we who loved him will all learn from his mistakes and take care of our bodies, so they will in turn carry us through to old age.

Good-bye Joe. Thank you for sharing your friendship, your laughter, your insight, your intelligence, your compassion, and your grace with me. I will never forget what a good man you were. Until we meet again...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Meanest Thing About Spring

Do you ever feel like Daylight Savings Time was invented purely for the amusement of the government? I think that somewhere people are sitting in some office cracking up at our tired faces trying to get up an hour earlier for school and work, trying to wrestle our kids into bed an hour before they are used to sleeping. Nathan is rolling out of bed at 7:30 and barely making it onto the bus for school. Somewhere Big Brother is laughing at my sad sleepy face as I struggle to stay awake throughout the day, as though it was so easy before. Bastards.

When I lived in the Dominican Republic there was no observation of Daylight Savings. Dominicans thought they had plenty of daylight, thank you very much. Apparently they did at one point try and turn the clocks back, but everyone got so confused that no one made it anywhere, and they gave up and just kept it the same year round. Smart people.

I do, however, appreciate having it not get dark until 7pm. I am in desperate need for spring, and so I will accept the longer light filling up our days. I just wonder how much longer until we keep it this way all the time. I feel like a spring bud peeking up from the ground, much like the tiny daffodils I see peeking through in the yard, my eyes just barely beginning to open. I love living in Massachusetts because I hate winter so much, that when it finally melts away the feeling is orgasmic. We will probably live through the adjustment another year, but I wish somebody would wisen up and stop messing with our heads.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Bug is Back

Well, it's back. The bug. The travel bug that it. It hits me midwinter every year like a ton of bricks, and won't let up until the weather gets cold again next fall. I go one place and then I am desperate to go everywhere.

Unfortunately for me I am not independently wealthy, so this bug has to be kept at bay, at least a little bit. It is taking all of my strength not to charge us into credit card debt even further with new plane tickets to far off fun destinations, but no, I am not doing it. I will not jump at the great deal or the special offer, because really, unless it's free it's not happening. Calm down sister.

I think this bug will be permanently implanted inside of me. I can't imagine not having the itching desire to see new places or experience new adventures. Becoming a mother held it back a bit for me, but now that my kids are getting bigger that only increases my urges to get out and do things, and show them how much life has to offer.

So, if anyone has any fantastic, cheap, and easy ideas for anywhere to go that I don't have to reach by airplane, and that are preferably free, please let me know, I'm on the move, and I'm not stopping now.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Girls' Getaway: From fear to fantasy

I got back yesterday from a trip that has been widely discussed (in my own head) but never executed for the many years that I have been a parent. The girlfriends' getaway. The day had finally come. Jane, Danielle, Liz, and I were four women in desperate need of a vacation, so we shot down south to Key Largo.

Liz and I are the only two with children, and the day before we left we both found ourselves wracked with overwhelming anxiety about leaving them, even though I was leaving them in the hands of those I trust the most and I knew they would be fine. It was an unexplained sense of panic, as though I was making some terrible mothering mistake. I now feel a bit foolish for experiencing these uncontrolled emotions, as it was worth every last minute. 

The panic subsided by the time we were en route to the airport (although my panic about flying and the turbulent airplane ride did not help much) and once we had gotten our rental car and were heading south down the Florida turnpike to our awaiting houseboat, the Tobbie Dee.

The boat was shabby in the perfect sort of way. Located in the somewhat rundown but also distinctly charming Gilbert's Resort, our houseboat was roomy enough to fit four women comfortably, had a blender for mixed drinks (of which there were many), and allowed us to sip coffee while watching pelicans swooping down to catch their morning fish. The best part is that it was dirt cheap and had a constant view of the water. Perfect.

Our daily escapades began each day with a trip to the Casa De Los Jugos, a local haven for coffee and juice lovers alike. I easily consumed my body weight in fresh squeezed passion fruit juice (when combined with enough rum could very well create world peace) and cuban coffee in small thimbles, strong enough to wake any narcoleptic.

We filled our thermoses with fruity rum and headed to a different beach each day, the most stunning of which was the renowned Bahia Honda State Park. I hadn't been on a beach without my kids since they were born, and the release of not being responsible for anyone else was tremendous. Girl talk, from the most intimate details to the superficial had us laughing the entire time.

Whatever else may be true, I will not be waiting seven years to take a vacation by myself again. Today as I woke up (from 12 needed hours of sleep) feeling refreshed and calm, I no longer hold the guilt of taking time out for me. Moms deserve to spend time away from their children now and again to allow us to remember that we are more than just mothers. We are women with desires, adventuresome spirits, and the ability to laugh. I can't believe how often in life I have let myself forget that. This too ends today.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Motherhood Sacrifice

Motherhood is all about sacrifice. For centuries mothers have been giving up what they want and need in order to accommodate the more pressing demands of their children. We give up sleep, leisurely meals, perky breasts, time, energy, you name it. We happily give it all up to raise these beautiful little creatures and have them prosper and grow into their oversized personalities.

For the past five years I have been working every weekend in order to be able to be home during the week with my kids and avoid paying drastically for child care. My kids see more of me and I don't have to worry about who is caring for them on which day. I have sacrificed many a party, girls' night, dinner out, and basically most other regular event that happens on a weekend. I get the occasional weekend off, savoring every minute of it when I'm not rushing to make the most of it. Now that my oldest is in second grade, I miss out on his life most of all. He's at school all week while I'm home, and I spend most of the day sleeping when he's home on the weekends. It's lame, but it works for our family right now.

Next week I am doing something that is totally radical in the world of motherhood: I am going on vacation by myself. That's right, I said it. No husband, no kids, just girlfriends for five days in Florida. The opposite of sacrifice. Next week I am giving myself a well earned break from the chaos and taking a little sacrifice back. Feels totally reckless as I have never done anything like it before. I travel a lot, but I always take my kids with me. This year I had very little money, but airline miles I could only use myself. Hmmm, what to do?

Ignoring the waves of panic that wash over me at night (How will they be OK without me? Will I be able to will our plane to stay in the air and make it to the other side? Will the house crumble into dust from neglect or be condemned from filth when I return? Am I traumatizing them by taking myself away for so long?) I soldier on because I am downright psyched about this trip. We are staying on a houseboat (is there anything cooler than that?) and planning to fill our days with beach, snorkels, and tropical cocktails. My goal is to relax enough for the next seven years until I get another vacation like it.

I am nervous about it because I am trained to sacrifice. It feels wrong to do something that is just for me. I'm not sure how that guilt was ingrained into me, but here it is. Wherever I go, this invisible umbilical cord has me attached to my children and I can't help but worry about where they are when they aren't with me. I think this feeling may never dissipate, and that it may be the permanent connection that makes motherhood such a powerful force.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Screen Free Challenge

This week Francisco propositioned Nathan with a challenge he couldn't refuse. We seem to be raising a house full of gamblers, because we can't help but place wagers on many of life's daily activities. This week's challenge: Give up the screen.

Francisco bet Nathan fifty dollars that he couldn't go one month without screen time. That includes TV, video games, computer, or the beloved parental iPhone. I quickly joined in on this challenge, as I spend most of my day squawking at someone to "turn that damn thing off!" I added fifty dollars of my own, and for Nay the bet was sealed. If he can go until March 3rd without watching anything, he'll get a whopping hundred bucks. Woah.

It's been two days and Nathan is like a tiny alcoholic. "Mom, this is really hard! Does YouTube count? Does it count as a screen if we are in New Jersey?" He's steadfast in his desire to earn such a massive sum of money for his seven year old pockets, so he has yet to break down, and I keep reminding him that the first week will probably be the hardest. This is the first time that he has voluntarily given up his precious screens. I have often cut him off for a week or two at a time, to bring us back to reality and keep him from becoming too glazed over, but somehow this is very different. There is no reminding, threatening, or sneaking around. He truly just wants to win this challenge.

I have been impressed with how many books he has already plowed through, how his week's worth of homework was completed in one night, and how we have done enough science experiments to write a book.  It's slightly painful to have to wake up as early as he does (he used to sneak downstairs and watch TV before I was even conscious), but I like having his full attention and interest back. I hope he can persevere to win the money, and I really hope this makes a change for our family in the long run. I'll let you know.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Dental Shame

Today is the first (of many) appointments for Sofie to see her pediatric dentist to correct a problem that apparently has been going on for some time unbeknownst to me: her rotten teeth.

If you want to feel like a bad parent try taking your four year old to the dentist, only to find out that more than half of their teeth have melted away with decay. Apparently this is something I should have recognized ages ago, and how could I have waited so long to address this massive dilemma?

Wait. Back up. Hold the phone with your holy-hygienist guilt trip. Aren't these teeth supposed to fall out? Aren't these the set that kids are given so that when their parents don't notice the dark holes appearing in the nether regions of their mouths we can try again with a fresh set of bigger, stronger teeth? I am confused (while still feeling downright shameful that this has happened to MY child, I can't help it, mother guilt is the strongest emotion known to man).

Francisco was more horrified to hear about the $2000 price tag that accompanies Sofie's lengthy dental procedures (and yes, that's WITH the dental insurance) than he was to hear about the teeth themselves. He figures this is the practice run. "No one in MY country ever had these baby teeth fixed, and the people still seem to grow new teeth. We eat fine! What's the problem?" But this from the man who had two of his molars yanked out instead of filled when they bothered him. Not sure he's qualified to make this decision either.

She has to go this morning for fillings, caps, and laughing gas, and then five more times to address all of the many damaged teeth. I don't know if this is warranted, I am not a dentist, but merely a horrified parent who will believe pretty much anything these people tell me. At the same time I am torn between the medical lectures and "how could you"s and the pull of not wanting to put her through this and the strain of our already thin-stretched pockets.

There should be a manual for this kind of thing. How the hell is any parent supposed to know what to do? We brush regularly, don't sleep with bottles of apple juice, what more do you want from me? I am reminded of my mother being lectured by a well known asshole dentist in my town more than 25 years ago when my brother and I each had a mouthful of cavities. The dental shame is apparently passed on through the generations.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Frosty Nose Hair

Well, it's Monday morning and once again my housekeeper did not show up. Right, that's because I don't have a housekeeper. Damn. I guess the place will just have to remain disgusting for a few more days until I summon up the mojo to dig my way through the crap and find the floors. Whatever.

This morning as I soldiered outside through the cold to feed the chickens and my nose hair glossed over with ice, I thought dreamy January thoughts of tropical weather and escaping the doldrums of New England winter. Let's face it, I think about this every minute of every day until I see the first signs of spring. I can't envision a winter where I don't dream about escape. That just wouldn't be me.

Even the pets are suffering this winter. Our older cat, MiniMe, has completely given up going outside, and has  taken to using the kitten's litter box instead. Disgusting. I am becoming somewhat resentful, but I try to be empathetic and rationalize the fact that I would not like to crap outside in the cold any more than she does. But still, first thaw and that box is history. Polly, our loyal canine, is rapidly widening around the haunches and looking at me with pleading eyes to take her on a walk. I feel like a bad dog mama but really, when it's 2 degrees outside that is probably not going to happen. Maybe later today when it warms up to a balmy 25.

Francisco and I are in desperate need of a wood stove. Becoming homeowners has opened our eyes to the shocking revelation that oil is expensive and winter is freaking cold! First item on the tax return agenda: install cozy stove to warm our feet and snuggle by at night. Not sure how doable this is on a budget, but it must happen.

Until then I will keep burning the oil and shedding a tear each time my checkbook groans from the bill. I keep it low, bundle up in sweaters, and try to remember that winter doesn't last forever. Ugh.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Very Unrewarding Job

Motherhood has plenty of rewards. Even when I'm sloshing through a whiny temper tantrum, or bleary eyed from middle of the night fevers, being a mother pays off every day. Just look at their smiles when you pick them up at school, or the way they drape their arms over me when I read them a story. Little beautiful joys.

But what isn't rewarding? Being the housewife. Even though I am a working mother, I spend most of my week home, caring for this house and my family, making most of the meals, and cleaning up after what feels like a small army every freaking day, only to have the mess reappear as if by magic overnight. The most obnoxious thing about this tiring routine: Dinnertime.

Every day I debate what to feed the family. What will make them eat heartily and give them the nutrients they need. I am coming to realize that this is the impossible dream. I am not a bad cook, if I do say so myself. Sometimes there are dishes that fail, this is true for most of us, but for the most part I know my way around the kitchen. I use fresh ingredients, make most things from scratch, and pay attention as I go, and I enjoy cooking, I put love in every bite.

So why then is it impossible to make a meal that everyone in my family will eat and say "Mmmmm, this is really good!" The bastards won't say this. Someone (including my spouse) will whine that something is wrong with it, there is always a reason why I am prodding them to eat a few more bites. So obnoxious and super unrewarding. All of my hard work driven down to me poking and screeching to make sure that this delicious food doesn't end up in the compost. Grrrr.

I need a strategy to deal with this annoyance. I am thinking about an all out boycott on the kitchen, going on strike. Or maybe I should just make them cook (as I threatened Sofie last night when she wouldn't eat her beautiful chicken stew). Whatever it is, this is certainly not working for me, and I'm ready to quit. Suggestions welcome...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Day for Baking Bread

My first blog post from my new adorable computer. It took me a while to decide whether or not I liked this thing, it's tiny sleekness and internet-only capabilities threw me for a loop, what if I need to do more? The reality is that I don't, this little machine does everything I ever do with a computer (which isn't much), and has the amazing feature of not needing to boot up or take forever to shut down. Super fast, it just goes where I say, when I say. I wish it could train my children to do that. It's pretty awesome.

But enough about that. Today is a bread baking day. I have been trying out all sorts of breads for the past couple of months, and have decided that there is nothing so satisfying as taking a hot, fresh, loaf out of the oven, buttering it up and serving it to your family (or more likely yourself). Here's what I'm making today:

Whole wheat flax no kneed artisan bread. My friend Jen gave me this recipe, and I tried it yesterday but I think I got the proportions wrong because it was super salty (which was not totally unpleasant, but thoroughly rejected by the peanut gallery). So I am making it again today, and hoping it turns out better.

Here it is, baking up and smelling really amazing. Recipe is pretty simple, for today I just added:

3 cups hot water
3 cups white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar

I proofed the yeast with the salt in the hot water in the bowl of my kitchen aid mixer, then added the flour and flax seed and mixed with the dough hook until a very sticky dough formed. Then I covered tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise for 2 hours, formed two balls of sticky dough (put one in the fridge for another time), and baked at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. Not bad, and practically no work at all. I have had better breads but I love the simplicity of this one.

Next on to cinnamon bread to make the kitchen smell outstanding. Today I am trying a recipe I found on someone else's blog:

Definitely can't wait to see how this one comes out, looks beautiful from the pictures, but I always wonder, can my culinary abilities match up? I'll let you know...