Monday, August 27, 2007

Frighteningly Accurate

Barb did us a huge favor last week and babysat for the boys so that Luke and I could go on a real, live date. (We went to the Simpsons Movie. It had its moments, but that was about it. The real treat was getting out of the house with adult company for a while.)

Upon our return home, Barb gave us such an accurate description of our boys that I've been thinking about it for days now. After putting them to bed, she heard thumping and went to investigate. (Surprise, surprise.) Her verdict was that Big Boy A had focused on the task of going to bed and was already asleep and Big Boy B was "dinkin' around." It was just so spot-on that Luke and I laughed and laughed.

And then there was the comment this weekend. We went to Barb's and John's house for a family barbecue and heard this description of having two-year-olds in the house:

"It's kind of like having raccoons in the house. You can't tell them not to get into stuff, and they can make a mess faster than anything."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Works for me Wednesday

I've been wanting to join in this discussion for several weeks, hosted by Shanon over at Rocks in my Dryer. However, it seems like each time Wednesday rolls round, my mind draws a blank and I can't think of anything witty enough to share. But, this week I got smart! I had a couple of ideas and I saved them in my blog archives so that I would remember what they are! See, I told you I got smart.

So, my tip for Works for me Wednesday is this: It's August in the Pacific Northwest, and that means that if you try to picnic with your family you're likely to draw yellow jackets. (Or as my Fresno friends call them, "meat bees." We knew a girl in California who was absolutely convinced that meat bees were a separate species from yellow jackets...) The yellow jackets can be pretty aggressive looking for meat and water, especially as the month goes on and the supply of those things gets shorter and shorter.

While discussing this with some neighbors of ours, we were saying that we didn't like to take the boys on picnics because we didn't want them to be stung. Then, Sarah gave us this great tip: Put a dryer sheet on the table (you might have to anchor it down with a rock or something) and the bees will stay away. I can't tell you why it works, but it does! We have even forgotten a few times, had yellow jackets actually landing on the table, and then scatter when the dryer sheets came out. It's amazing and it works for me!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Maiden Voyage

Imagine! In just 10 short months, we went from this...

to this!

Luke named his boat Erinholm after his grandfather and we had a wonderful maiden voyage on Saturday afternoon. The weather held just long enough for us to launch and christen the boat (with the best champagne you can buy for $5!) before absolutely drenching Seattle with a downpour Saturday night and most of Sunday.

We hope you enjoy the pictures!

Friday, August 17, 2007

A little bit of a rant about some rude questions

We all, from time to time, meet people whose internal censor does not kick in and scream at them, "NO!!!! Do not say that!!!" After talking with some friends lately, I've been reflecting upon the questions that moms often face from others who really, truly don't know that they're being impolite or rude or prying into deeply personal topics from their seemingly "innocent" questions. And this made me start thinking about the questions I have answered since having the boys and what kinds of answers I give people versus the answers I'd really like to give, especially as my answers get wittier (at least to me) the longer I have to think about them.

Question #1: "Are they twins?" followed quickly by "Which one is older?"

Yes, they're twins. And they were born one minute apart. I really don't think that one minute qualifies Big Boy A as the "older brother," but it seems to be something that people think is terribly important. We even referred to the boys jokingly as Jacob and Esau for awhile, fighting to get out of the womb at the same time.

Question #2: "Do twins run in your family?" Or the less tactful, "Did you take fertility drugs?"

Twins do indeed run in my family. My grandfather and his twin were one set of several that my great-grandmother had. She took seriously the commandment to be fruitful and multiply. And no, we didn't use fertility drugs, not that that's any of your business at all, thankyouverymuch. Twins, though rare, do occur naturally about 1 in 728 times. And yes, our odds for having twins again are dramatically higher since we've already had one set.

Question #3 (especially when the boys were still infants): "Did you breast feed?"

Argh! What an incredibly personal and invasive question to ask! This one got my goat even more than the fertility drugs question, which annoyed me quite a bit. I did not breast feed because circumstances of they boys' birth made that very difficult. As in, they were born 8 weeks early and spent 3 weeks in the hospital before we were allowed to bring them home with us. Because they were so small, and Big Boy B was born before the instinct to suckle was developed, nursing was not an immediate option for me. I tried it several times, and it simply did not work for us. Every time I heard this question, I relived each moment of those three weeks in vivid detail.

One of the worst things about this question is that it was mainly asked by "grandmotherly" women who had their children 30, 40, or even 50 years ago. Their experience was as foreign to me as mine was to them. Had our children been born when theirs were, the boys would have most likely died within days, and very likely I would have died along with them. A seemingly simple question about breast feeding brought up each of these issues for me, without warning, almost daily for about a year and a half.

Question #4: "What do you do?"

This question can be taken a few different ways, and people's prejudices are really revealed by their reactions to the way in which this is answered. I stay at home with our boys, and am aware that this is a blessing for our family. Some people take this to mean that I lie in the lap of luxury or that my husband makes indecent amounts of money. Neither of these is true, and both Luke and I make sacrifices so that this situation is possible for our boys. And, I looked into going back to work after the boys were born. However, my professional life was as a middle school math teacher and I simply would not have been paid enough to cover our child care costs to put two infants in daycare. Not only does this underscore the deplorable state of teachers' salaries, but it also made me think about whether I wanted someone else to raise my children if it was at all possible for me to do so myself. Some people see this as a waste of my college degree. Some people see this as a woman's duty to leave her profession to raise her children. I simply see it as the right choice for our family, at this point in our lives. Some day that may change and another choice may have to be made.

I know there are those of you who face these questions and are at a loss as how to answer them. And, know that you are not the only one who struggles with civilized and polite answers to give complete strangers who think it's okay to pry into the innermost life of you and your family. Sometimes I don't manage a civil response, and if I'm afraid I'll say something I'll regret later, I try to say nothing at all.

See, I know my children are watching me. And I know they understand what I say. And, especially now, I know that they just might repeat what I say to someone else. I want them to know that they are blessings, special and treasured. I do not want them to ever think that their mother regrets her decisions regarding these issues and wishes for other circumstances. This is our life. It's a good life, and there will always be people who just don't know how to look at it that way. Just as there will always be people who don't know how to keep their mouths shut and not ask questions regarding issues that are none of their business.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A success and a failure, all at once.

I did something yesterday that I've been timid to do too often: I looked at what I had in the cupboard and threw some things together and popped a casserole in the oven to be ready when Luke, the boys and I got home from church. I'm not sure if I've seen the basics of the recipe several times but haven't paid attention to it, or if I've truly created something of my own. But, I'm calling it Creamy Chicken Casserole. Interested in the recipe? Here it is. The edited version, that is... as I said, it was a success and a failure all at the same time.

Creamy Chicken Casserole
1 can cream of broccoli soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup rice
2 chicken breasts, cubed (raw and seasoned with salt and pepper)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Smoosh the soup, milk and rice together and spread in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Scatter the cubed chicken over that, and top with the cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Take the foil off for the last 15 minutes of baking.

(You could even add some veggies to the soup, I'd think... but that would be a definite no-no at my house if I want Luke to eat it.)

So... here's the failure part of the new recipe I so proudly created yesterday. I did not smoosh the soup and rice and milk together, but rather put the rice in the pan and covered it with the soup and milk mixture. The result? Creamy, gooey, chicken and cheese goodness on top of a thin layer of rice that had cooked, on top of a layer of rice that was simply hot, but definitely not cooked! I tweaked and tweaked the rice left in the bottom of the pan to try to get it cooked, and it sort of did, but I think that it would have been lots better if I'd just taken the time to smoosh it together in the first place.

And, in other creative-type news, I've started another blanket. Blame it on the Michael's flier in the paper yesterday... there was a coupon for 40% off any single item. I went looking for yarn and found some Lion Brand Pound of Love. Typical to my yarn-for-baby buying, I bought off-white and have cast on for a baby blanket. As there are three babies in my circle of family and friends due around December/January, I'm not sure who the recipient will be, but it is a hope of mine that it might become a beloved woobie. I'm taking Stephanie's somewhat tongue-in-cheek suggestion that I knit it in an enterlac pattern. It'll be six times wider than the scarf, and hopefully turn out to be square.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Gardening-related Ramblings

Many of you know that I'm no horticultural genius... in fact, it's pretty obvious that I've got a perpetually brown thumb. Some of my observations yesterday, as I was watering our flowers, were:

Luke bought me several plants a few weeks ago, most of them impatients. They were very thirsty, and making it painfully obvious so that even I could see it. We'll see how they responded to a nice long drink.

Plants as gifts are nice, and Stephanie prefers them to cut flowers. However, an expensive and temperamental plant is almost surely a wasted gift on me as I'm certain to kill the poor thing within two weeks.

Our watering system seems to be drought or deluge... if plants can't survive that, they're in trouble at our house. Native, hardy plants are really the best choice for us.

And on a totally un-garden-related note: I've been invited to join Seattle Mom Blogs. Check out the new link in the sidebar!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

And another one...

Just because I can't stand not to share this. I'm so insanely proud of myself for figuring out this pattern that I've got to brag a little about the work in progress.

Often overheard at our house...

A phrase overheard at our house lately:

"I do it all by myself!"

Tone quality can vary from petulant to excited to proud to whining... really, the possibilities are endless. And, it can be applied to any family member. Just don't expect the pronouns to be exactly right. Somehow, that's a tricky part of the English language that's still being mastered.

Also overheard at our house is an archaic contraction that the boys have discovered "all by themselves." What is it, you ask? The contraction "amn't." As in, "am not." As in, "Big Boy A (or Big Boy B), are you all done with your dinner?" "No, I amn't."

That's our little slice of Elizabethan England, right here in Seattle.