That Damn Christmas Shoes Song is Back

It’s two days post-Thanksgiving. There is still turkey to be eaten, cranberry sauce to congeal unappealingly in the back of the fridge, and stains to be removed from the tablecloth. There are still “hand turkeys” – hm, that sounds a little dirty – to be found decorating multiple surfaces in my house. There are pilgrim hats being worn,and fall leaves swirling, and yet today I got in the car and the radio was playing that ridiculous song about the child who was buying the beautiful shoes for his mother who is ABOUT TO DIE and he wants her to look beautiful for Jesus.

I’m sorry, but I am not on board with this song. I loathe it with every fiber of my being. And I feel like it gets played about a billion times more than any other song around this time of year because I swear I hear it every time I’m in the car (I don’t really listen to the radio at all besides when I’m driving). But the worst part is that it is SUCH an earworm. If I hear it once, it’s in my head for the rest of the day. Just what I need. It’s not even December yet, for frick’s sake.

Ah, the Christmas spirit. I have it, can’t you tell?


I Never Said I Was a Professional

Since my foray into staying at home with small A has begun, I’ve learned a few things here and there. One, I am crap at multitasking. I do things like start the washer, add the detergent, and then head back to sort the laundry. On the way back to the washer, I notice that the dishtowels hanging by the oven look dingy and decide to toss those in too, which causes me to put down the laundry basket. With my now-free hands, I grab the dish towels, but notice that the top of my stove could use a scrub. I wipe down the stovetop with the towels, then decide that won’t cut the mustard (I love that expression – ¬†and there isn’t actual mustard on my stovetop as I don’t like mustard and would never cook with it EVER, ew) and so drop the towels in order to get the degreaser-spray-thingie. I degrease the top of the stove, stand back to admire my handiwork and then think “Well, heck, why not wipe down the stove front and also the fridge while I’m at it?” And before I know it, the washer has reached the water line and shuts off, leaving a washer full of warm water/detergent which slowly goes cold as I degrease my kitchen. To conclude, me = not a multitasker.

I’ve also learned that it is possible to be at home for an ENTIRE day and have nothing to show for it but a breathing child (which is the goal, obviously… I just mean that sometimes that’s all that gets done). I get ready to pick up G from school, look around the house and wonder (sometimes aloud) what on earth I just spent 7 hours doing, besides convincing A to nap and eat.

At some point, I know that I’m going to have to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I’m a wife and a mom and I love those roles. But I think that at some point, my bosses may realize that I’ve reached my full potential and that I’ll need to branch out. What to do then?

The Luxury of Space

I have a redheaded stepchild. Only he’s not a redhead: he’s black and furry and has terrible breath. He is my dog, my mutt, my protector, and he’s the best dog ever and totally has your dog beat in the Awesome Dog department. However, I have a short fuse these days, made all the shorter by the two small and demanding people whom I love dearly but would sometimes ship off to a small island in order to simply visit a bathroom sans company. And when I need to blow up, I realize more and more that it’s rebounding on the poor pup, who can’t defend himself verbally but instead slinks off ashamedly to lurk under the bed and write deep entries in his diary about being misunderstood.

A lot of this may have to do with the fact that we live in a not quite one thousand square foot house. The “we” of this family is me, C, the two girls, the dog and two cats. That’s seven living creatures in one small house and at times it feels like I may lose my mind. We love where we live, we love our neighborhood (the bass is kind of killing me, but that’s another story) and we love our house and backyard. We do a lot of “We don’t need more space! We’re minimalists! Let’s be small and leave tiny eco-footprints blah blah blah!” And then I step on the dog, trip on a cat and knock over the water bowl in our One-Butt Kitchen (TM my friend Kim, thanks) and I start to envision becoming either a farmer with 18 acres or else just very, very wealthy. In both scenarios I have a Fifteen Butt Kitchen with many counters, and also a toaster over that was made pre-1994 (and it still works! Point to you, Black and Decker!).

I have so much more to say on this subject, but let’s save it for another time when I have more energy to expound upon the wonder that is our Half-Butt Bathroom, where you can wash your hands WHILE you pee.

Wherein I Explain the Crunchy Leanings

(side note: Crunchy Leanings might make a good band name.)

I was raised by an amazingly health-minded mother, especially considering that I was a child of the 80’s and thus a child of the processed food revolution. To be fair, my father is pretty healthy too but might not be as health minded if he weren’t married to my mother (cough cough*Cheetos and scotch* cough cough). When other kids had Fruit Roll-Ups, my sister and I had fruit leather, though not the fancified newfangled plastic-wrapped kind. Ours was of the “fruit homegrown by pioneers and then beaten into submission and transported in bricks” variety. When other kids had white, fluffy bread, we had flat wheat bread. Our peanut butter was all-natural, the kind that freaked me out because it had a layer of oil floating on top that had to be mixed in each time it was used. There was nary a juice box in sight. So, basically, we were the healthy kids with the weird food. Nowadays this is all the norm, but when we were little, we were definitely the odd ones out.

HOWEVER. I have clear memories of only being allowed to bring my lunch to school on Fridays or on special occasions, like a field trip to the Community Coffee plant (true story – what, eight year olds don’t drink coffee where you live?). And my beef with this system, mother, should you ever read this, is: how on earth could you have thought that what was given to us at school was remotely as healthy as what you fed us at home? Let me rack my brain for a short list of the delicious fare that was the school cafeteria menu in New Orleans, Louisiana circa 1985.

  • Sloppy Joes (I am SURE that the ground cat horse dog beef that was in those was organic)
  • tater tots
  • “ribs” – I can’t quite explain these but anyone who went to public school knows of what I speak
  • Filet O’Fish

I feel certain that my mom wouldn’t have EVER served any of these at home. And up until now, I was a little resentful of having to wait in the line to get these delicacies day after day for about 9 years of my life.

But now? I get it. Because packing a lunch for my kid when we’re all trying to get out the door fully clothed, coffee-d and fed is a royal pain in the neck. And I do give my kid wheat bread and fruit leather… but she also gets a juice box.

the new gig

I’m pretty new to this stay-at-home-mom gig. My older daughter G was born in 2006; I took 3 months maternity leave (*shakes fist in general direction of DC and policy makers in general*) and went back to work full time when she was three months old. I had no idea whatsoever how difficult that would be. We didn’t have a choice in terms of money; my husband C was a full time grad student and we needed to eat. And pay bills. And feed the dog. You get the idea. Anyway, when my second daughter A was born in early 09, we decided that, since C would be graduating in May and we would be moving (he had a job offer in another state… closer to family!), I just wouldn’t go back to work after maternity leave was up, and would stay home with A. This would hopefully prevent the massive guilt complex that I developed when G had to be in full-time daycare. Side note: I was raised Catholic in the south. WE KNOW GUILT.

Now, we all know what happens when we have our minds set on a plan, right? The job offer was rescinded (stupid economy) and we had to start over from scratch. Having no childcare at all lined up for A, and having planned to take G out of her current daycare, we decided to move ahead with that part of the plan and I left my (really flexible, pretty well paying) job. I miss it sometimes, but as I have been home for just shy of a year now, I realize that what I miss most is the people, the interaction, the measurable goals and the community. When C gets home at the end of day and asks what I did that day, sometimes all I can say is “I kept a human alive. Oh, and did some dishes.” Part of me feels like the house should be sparkly, like I should wear a dotted-Swiss apron and have fresh-baked goods waiting for whoever stops by. My grandmother, who married into the aforementioned Southern Catholic family, had seven children and always had her hair done, dinner on the table and an impeccable home. Then I remember that she had “help” in the form of a daily maid and, you know, those SEVEN KIDS who could not only pick up after themselves but also each other. I’m looking forward to that stage (ten-month-olds are really lax in the cleaning-up department, if you weren’t aware).

I’m not sure where I’m going with this; I think it’s that, since I’ve been home, I’ve gotten familiar with the blogging community at large. I’ve learned a lot about a bunch of people I’ll never meet, but I’ve learned a lot from these people as well. I’m pretty sure this medium isn’t going anywhere anytime soon (by medium, I mean blogging – I’m not a medium in the psychic sense of the word, as far as I know). Thanks to all who write so we can read.

I’m new here

Hello? Hello? Well, that’s dandy. All dressed up with stuff to say and no one to say it to. Well, I’m actually ok with that, given that I just started this about 5 minute ago and the odds of anyone stumbling over it already are considerably slim. By my count, there are approximately 4, 448, 365 blogs out there, so hey… more drivel! (Side note: I ALWAYS thought that was dribble. And come now, wouldn’t “dribble” really be more fun? Mindless dribble for all!)

There are a ton of talented writers out there in this internet world, some of whom have inspired me to try to kick it up a notch, as the kids say. I keep a small personal blog for family (photos, videos, grandparental moments, you know) and have been documenting the monumental dribble (see!) that is my children’s lives quite nicely. Thinking on it, I’ve decided that the space over there… while it’s by me, it’s really for others. And I think this one might be for me. If I can keep my dribble in check somewhat, that is.

Hi, I’m Natalie. I’m new here, and I hope I’ll be around awhile.