Sunday, February 28, 2010

Don't make Me Go Waldorf on You!

We stumbled on the Seaside Playgarden only because a friend mentioned she saw this cute little school near the beach. She and her husband were garage-sale hopping in the area when the came across the school and thought it might interest me.

It was October of last year and I hadn't enrolled Turner in any of the area "church-type" schools because I was not only nervous about sending my baby out three days a week, I was terrified these people don't know my sensitive little man. He hadn't quite come out of his shell as a three year old (his birthdate is August 31st) so I was really torn about even sending him. All the other mommies were doing it, though, so I kept looking...

When the Seaside Playgarden option came around, I checked out the website and thought "Hmm, different and a fabulous price." That's it. That's all I thought. I didn't even know who or what Waldorf was. The teachers looked nice, the school was small, and it was just two days a week.
Within the next few weeks I noticed Turner becoming less and less dependent on me for everything. It was a combination of moving farther in to three and his attendance at school. He started singing songs out of the blue and even, now, tells these elaborate stories. His teacher, Ms. Julie, says Turner will now even walk in and start hamming it up with the kids and the other teacher in the school.

It wasn't until recently that I did any more research on Waldorf pedagogy. Based on our duty station choices I started to check out the local school options in Honolulu, and San Diego. I found astronomically priced Waldorf schools (5k for a 4 year old program? Ouch). Assuming if we lived in Japan Turner would attend a DOD program like the CDC (Child Development Center a.k.a. Glorified Babysitting) I started thinking back to the teeny voice that said 'homeschooling.'

Wait! Rewind. Homeschooling?

Psssh. That's for those crazy folk who drink the Cool-Aid and have tons of babies. I need my 'me' time. It's what moms do, right? Have babies and hurry them along to school so we can get back in to what interests us. Shopping, the gym, a pristine house, happy kids...perfect, perfect, perfect! That's what I want(ed). Perfection. Homeschooling does not equal perfection in my mind. Mess is all I think of. When do you clean? How do you dinner prep? When do you get to read your book/magazine?

It's been a whirlwind of reading, thinking and finally coming to this conclusion:
First let me say that I'm talking about early education. Not actually school school but more like making the most out of their time at home. This tiny flit of a moment is all we have with our kids. Turner is already copying my actions and, quite honestly, they're not all good. Not even close. I can do so much more but I was reaching for direction. I've found it. We are going to continue to learn more and follow a quasi-Waldorfian path. We're not dumping all our plastic toys and cutting off all media in the spirit of being purists. I am not going to homeschool for their lifetime, nor keep them from organized sports, or anything I consider pure joy in childhood (Ice cream man! Wait! I've got my money right heeeerrrreeeee! ). I'm not saying they need school at this very moment. I'm just saying that our home is going to be more "Waldorf inspired" and, if it's the case, I'll 'school' them in that manner for their first years. It really gives me a direction, a rhythm of my own to follow. It forces me to remember that this is my job; I am really my child's first teacher.

Our goal is this: Protect the Kingdom of Childhood. Fairies, gnomes, dirt, leaves, rocks, dough, felt and all.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bread and Butta

Today was about keeping it simple. I can't seem to find the "rhythm" of the day if there is no planning the night before. Considering the broken sleep I've been getting, not much planning happens. Ever.

Somehow, I managed to find the simplest recipe for whole wheat banana bread, some on-the-verge-of-being-tossed bananas and the opportunity to let Turner do something alone. Since he woke up at 4am and didn't get back to sleep until around 6am (waking up, finally, at 7:40) he had taken a nap around 10:30. That left us with some time to fill before Ollie was up from his nap.

The bread was easy to toss together and I know it will quickly become the recipe of choice. It's almost fool-proof and SO easy for toddlers to throw together almost all on their own.
Eli woke up just in time to shake up some butter! I've seen the how-to before and thought it would be something fun for the kids to do. It took about 40 minutes but I think it was because I had to referee the entire time. Toddler hands + cranky Turner + glass jar... I'm going to see if my neighbor has a few baby food jars. I think those are fairly indestructible and just the right size for little hands to shake.

Any way, they had a great time. While I was talking to Turner's teacher today she reminded me that it's the experience, not the product that matters.
Here's to the mess. I have to fight the compulsions to help to avoid spills and then the compulsion to clean/fix/straighten whatever happened in the kitchen right away.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Any Childhood Worth Remembering is Colorful

I try hard to provide nutritious meals and snacks for the kids. The often eat healthier than I do and almost always healthier than at least 90% of America's children. So, when I fall short I don't fret that they're going to become obese adults or have type 2 diabetes five year olds.

Today, someone mentioned this and I knew what we were having for dinner!
People may scoff at adding chemicals to your child's food, but a tiny drop in some multi-grain pancake batter hasn't killed anyone yet. Processed foods? Probably.

It was without reservation I mixed up some Trader Joe's multigrain baking and pancake mix, split it up in to some snack bowls and added a drop of food coloring to each bowl. This was the first time in a very long time there was no added wheat germ, chia seed, or puree of any kind. I still used sugar free syrup, though.

I forgot how awesome plain ol' pancakes were! I scarfed this stack down like I hadn't eaten in weeks.
I stashed my sweet little cakes so we could have a quick dinner after we returned from the beach. The boys were very excited and ate about four pancakes each! They usually don't eat a huge dinner so it was fun to watch them fill their little bellies.

Oh, and happy International Pancake Day!

Monday, February 22, 2010

26.2 with Donna

The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer
What an amazing race! It was an honor to run and be a part of the 3rd annual 26.2 with Donna.

When I thought to run this marathon it was for a few reasons: location and ease, for my Mammer, a breast cancer survivor, and mostly to prove to myself that I could. Just because.

Part of choosing to be a stay-at-home-mom means giving up a tiny bit of what you are. Losing a little bit of what you love, even if just for a few years. The years fly by in one fell swoop but at the end I'm certain you stand around wondering who the hell you are. You don't start out that way, though. When the baby is born you think you'll do it all and, before you know it, you're on the list...just in last place. When it came to me and running organized races, we were just last on the list.

When I found out I was pregnant for the third time I decided I was done with the excuses (Oh, I can't, I'm growing a baby; Maybe next year; *yawns* I'm tired; I was up late with one or the other...or both). So it was, on a chilly morning I walked my 19 weeks pregnant butt the 1.6 miles from the parking lot to the Mayo Clinic -the starting lin
e for a 26.2 mile run. I had on my cool shirt,

and didn't expect much from my body. I was up at 2:45am rocking a two-year-molar-teething Eli for 45 minutes, was sick and flat out exhausted from the months prior. Because of the circumstances, I wasn't able to train like I would have for a race. The long run didn't happen and I knew my muscles weren't up to exact racing par. I did what I could with what I had; I didn't have much to lose!

The gun went off and I had lined myself up with the 5:15 pace group. My first song was Warning by Incubus and, as I was coming up over the Inter Coastal waterway on JTB U2's Beautiful Day came on. What a sight: the sunrise and a sea of pink running over this bridge. Truly amazing. The next miles were through neighborhoods along the beach and then a 2 mile stretch of packed sand on the beach. It was tough, but not as incredibly painful as I thought it would be. I haven't exactly been pushing BOB on the beach. After that were more gorgeous
homes along the beach communities and I even found a super awesome park! Now, if only I can remember the name... The entire time I had been actually running with the 4:15 pace group but around mile 15 it happened: the wall. My legs started to feel the wrath of poor distance training. Also, because I was stopping at every water and Active Water station I had to stop at every porta-potty. Around the 15 mile mark I noticed I started to spot. I had spotted once during the 1/2 marathon and was fine afterwards so I decided to go on. I knew I was hydrated so I was fine with the decision.

Every porta-potty stop after mile 15 I was still spotting, but it was ver
y light not the bright red "call 911" kind of thing. I finally walked around mile 17. Actually I "let" myself run/walk until mile 20 and then started running again. If it could be called that. Still spotting when I arrived to mile 25 I noticed it was a bit heavier. Here's where I've got to be honest: I found a medic and got carted back to the finish line. Yes, with one mile (albiet an entire span of what looked to be an insurmountable bridge) left to go in the marathon. Under normal circumstances I'd follow my own running creed: puke or pass out. I did, however, listen to my body. I hate that I didn't physically run across the line but my chip registered and I finished, damnit! I just didn't want to make the, potentially, worst mistake of my life by ignoring that sign. I took my medal, any way and limped to the Family Reunite area. Just like all the other runners. I even walked the 1.6 back to the parking lot so, technically, according to Katie Ogden, I did finish.

It's fitting that this year's race poster is "A Labor of Love." It took a lot for me to get to the race. I have been beat down and tired from the last two months (hell, year), I was running on zero sleep and I'm emotionally drained from playing mommy and daddy to two super awesome toddlers. But, I did it. I followed through and remembered that I'm important too. I went out of my way to make sure I was able to run this race. I think part of remembering to balance is knowing that it's ok to leave your kids for a few hours to get out for whatever it is that makes you feel accomplished: whether it's exercising or just getting a shower and making yourself look pretty.

Thanks, Katie and Mom! There is no way I would have left my babies with anyone else.

Oh! And I forgot to mention I met a cool marathon mom. She runs the Marathon Mom Shop and is supposed to be starting a blog soon. She even found me on the course to see how I was doing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Um, Like....

I know that you can be underwhelmed and you can be overwhelmed but can you ever just be, like, whelmed? Quick fact: 10 Things I Hate About You is my 'dirty little secret' movie. I wouldn't really admit it in a conversation, but I have to watch if it's on TV.

I'm not sure if it's deployment related or just timing-in-the-duty-station related, but I'm just whelmed. The boys and I have a hang of things now: the house is clean, the laundry is caught up, diapers get washed every night, we're fed, they sleep well, and we're having about as much fun as we can. The days aren't super interesting nor boring. The weather has been a little too chilly to really enjoy the outdoors for more than a few hours out of the day, but the boys are getting bored with my bag of indoor tricks. I'm exhausted beyond the meaning of the word so playing horsey is not a part of my arsenal at this time. It's a little boring sitting here alone at night. I mean, I count down the minutes until bedtime but I miss my little side-kicks. More so, I miss the big side-kick. It's just kind of ho-hum at the end of long, crazy days; I need to learn to enjoy the evening more. I guess insult to injury is the no drinking during pregnancy thing. Warm tea can only do so much before it's annoying that I have to pee even more often.

Mostly, I think, this is about the time I get "the itch." I'm ready for another city, state, country. I hate leaving the comfort but even more I hate sitting in the same place. It's a weird conundrum that has me crying as I leave friends but so happy to explore a new home town. The pack-out sucks, the mess is something I can live with out and the explosion of household crap on the other end would have some people running. I'm ready for our next duty station, though! I'm just kind of whelmed here. We knew it was coming, there was nothing exciting or new and I think I've felt this way the whole year.

Now that I've said all that, I can't believe I'm excited about what's about to slap me in the face. I mean, hello: one husband just back from deployment, one relationship figuring out the footwork post deployment AND post third child, 2 busy toddlers, a new born and a move. Now I know I've got too much time on my hands at night. What idiot wants to dip their feet in that?

A whelmed Navy wife.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Year in Jacksonville

I could clog up my tear ducts blubbering about being alone on Valentine's Day, but I won't bother. We're not really Valentine people, anyway. I'll miss my sweetie this weekend but I have one so I'm not complaining. Sure, I would have gotten the most beautiful lilies (he always gets lilies, my favorite), probably some of his super-awesome chocolate belgian waffles with a raspberry coulis. Heck, he probably would have even gotten lucky.

No, no, I'll leave the Valentines Schmalentines to someone else. Instead, let me bore you with a recap of our year in Jacksonville.


Really, there wasn't much interesting about it. Day to day was hectic and sometimes painful. Weeks and months of John working incredibly stupid hours all leading up to a deployment I was dreading.

Our year here was a slap in the face, a punch in the gut of "Welcome Back to Sea Duty!" It's been a tough road, but I think it's prepared me for what's to come next: something interesting. I'm glad we were in Jacksonville; something vaguely familiar, nothing too grand. I was able to learn to balance the boys and the mom/dad/cleaner/poop wiper/toy picker-uper/chef/laundry bitch/chaufeur/banker/candlestick maker and not have to worry too much about seeing the sights because we only had 18 months to do it.

We did't do much in a year, but I learned how to be a better mom. The limits of what I thought I could handle were tested, retested and then thrown in my face again. Most stay-at-home-moms are able to at least have their husbands do bath time or read stories at the days end. I usually got a phone call saying, again, that there wasn't going to be any daddy that night. When left to do everything, you learn to plaster the smile on your face and use your funny voices to read the same book for the 62nd night in a row...because that's what your kids need. I think that counts for something.

Oh, and I got knocked up again.

Onward and upward! Six more months here!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

John's slate came out last Friday. The slate is a simple listing of jobs and locations for those up for relocation between month x and month x. It's been different this time around as we're used to looking it up together and then discussing the possibilities.

This time, we're communicating through other active duty Navy friends. They have access to all the classified email and their unclassified email is working. So, John sends them a message and then I send one back through them. Odd, but it's work
ed for the day. Today is, by the way, our first contact in over a week.

Our choices right now are these:

CHENG (Chief Engineer, John's current job) out of Hawaii, San Diego, Norfolk (no, thank you) and Japan. There is NOTHING listed for Mayport, thank God. Not that this is a bad duty station, we just want to get some new places before the boys are in school and things get complicated.

There is one other possibility but it's a different job (CHENGs usually do two tours of the same job). It would take us to Gaeta, Italy! I told him to go for it! Why not?

One curve ball: If John is chosen for O4 command (that's an early command) then we will not have a say in location. The two places he would go are Sasebo, Japan or San Diego.

I have to say, I'm open to all those choices -with the exception of Norfolk. There are Navy families out there that would never come to Mayport and, for the same reasons, we don't want to go to Norfolk! Ultimately, you go where you're told!

In other news: the paper chain is up! Instead of doing a deployment countdown chain, I've chosen to make a paper chain that we add to. Since our communication has been slow, it's hard not telling John about the little things. When email does come back up, it's spotty and stops working without notice so writing a long catch-up message is not ideal. By adding links to the chain, I'm able to write little things that happened during the day. Never fear, we're also crossing days OFF the calendar that I made.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Run Report

I've been running.

I was really gung-ho about this race thing, before I had a pot belly, was sleep deprived and an emotional mess. As much as I want to quit, the Breast Cancer Marathon is in about two weeks. I've registered and I'm going to run the race. I'll just be running it with far less training that I'd like.

The FL Half Marathon Challenge was on January 31st. I did quite well given I was late to the race, 16 weeks pregnant, tripped and fell five times and had to stop to pee in the woods. It was the most technical trail run I'd ever been on! I was pretty motivated about the marathon, especially after I recovered from the half so quickly.

We returned to Jacksonville and I thought this marathon thing was in the bag. Well, life happens and I'm not on my 20 mile run today. I could stick the kids in BOB on this, the only nice day for the rest of the week, trying to make two 10 mile runs but it's really not fair to them. Cardio-wise, I'll be fine, I'm just worried about injury. Usually, you get your last long run in and you can tell what's going to hurt and then take precautions to prevent/lessen pain.

I'm tired, and unmotivated to finish this. I'm going to, but digging deep feels like pulling teeth right now. For the first time ever, I'm not really looking forward to the race but being finished with it. I'm ready to get back to the gym, leave the kids in kiddo care (they love it!) and call it a day.

Geeze, where'd this negative Nellie come from?

Saturday, February 6, 2010


My dear friend, Christine, mentioned One Little Word she's using for motivation this year. It got me thinking, I need a word...

There are quotes I've always thought of, my favorite being from To Kill A Mockingbird, and phrases I've repeated (I will not harm my child, I will not harm my child) but I've never thought of a single word for inspiration or motivation.

I chose 'balance' because things feel chaotic right now. Not that I ever really have a handle on anything, but I'm feeling overwhelmed by situations I have no control over. I hate that feeling more than anything. Also, it's the first word that popped in to my head. Given my incredible creative talents at the moment, I stuck with it.

My one little word will mean different things throughout the year. At this very moment, it will remind me to find balance in day to day chores and enjoying my babies at this stage in their life. They need me right now; the laundry can wait. I have to remind myself that I can't always be mommy; I have to balance mommy and daddy. There are days when the boys just need to roll around on the floor and I have to be daddy, regardless of a belly. I need to remember balance in my diet as I grow a baby and prepare to nurse. Balance in my mind as I talk to two toddlers all day.

In a few months, I hope my 'balance' reminds me to understand that caring for three boys isn't something learned over night. That I can't be a super mom without stumbling a few times. It's ok if I stumble, and it's ok if I fall. It's inevitable, but I hate letting my kids down and I will stop at nothing to do what needs to be done the night before just to be mommy in the morning. Some times, I need to sleep instead!

I need to remember to balance, to stand on two feet when I feel like I'm spinning. We only have this one moment in life and if I don't balance, I might miss it.

Balance...Oommm...uh, come the tears!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Breathing Deep

I really wanted to sit down tonight and vent. Just let it all hang out. I wanted to scream about January, this deployment, the kids, the house, being pregnant for a third time, not sleeping because I'm a fruitcake, the overwhelming feeling of failure that graces me with it's presence every day, the death of my laptop, and about my first really emotionally bad day.

The kids have been sleeping for a little over an hour and I was still composing this major vent in my head when I lost track of it all. I mean, can I really complain? Sure, I can bitch and moan but what do I really have to complain about?

My kids are toddlers. Of course we're going to have bad days, today was no exception. They're happy, healthy, full of life and a blast to be around. The love me and give me the sweetest kisses I've ever tasted. They pushed buttons, limits and tempers. But, at the end of the day, I cuddled with both of them on the couch, read them stories and tucked them in to bed.

I was a mess today. Eli and I were returning home from dropping Turner off at school. We have to go over a bridge at the inter coastal waterway and the boys usually say "I love you daddy!" Well, today, in his sweet raspy voice, Eli added "an see you amorrow" (see you tomorrow). I just lost it. I wanted to sit here and just complain away. Through my sobs I thought: "But I have a husband." He might not be here, but I'm not a single mother struggling to make ends meet. I have a husband who will eventually come home. He's on a six month deployment. That's it.

For the first time in a month I think I'm feeling absolutely overwhelmed. It's a combination of so many things (a few examples: pregnancy, spending quality time with Eli before the baby, making things for this baby that I did for the first two, mommy guilt mommy guilt, mommy guilt).

Taking a deep breath and letting go is hard, but feeling like a failure daily is harder.