Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Boys are (almost) Back in Town!

Ok, the illness really did us in with a HUMONGO case of the crankies. I mean, why wouldn't it? Who likes to be sick?

Finally, today, they both woke up in great moods -in my bed (baby steps). They talked and laughed to start the day out; they played like the crazy buddies they are. We made it to school with no incidents, Eli and I came home to mix up some dough, take a walk, play outside and then he was excited to go get "brudder" from school. After over a week they both slept in their rooms and even took great naps. They had a BLAST in the bath tub (thank God for glass doors because I didn't wipe up a thing) and then played so hard together with a remote control race car that I had to remind them it was chill-out time. Turner had the control and Eli would run around and pick the car up -or try to get it, at least. I seems like it's been weeks that they've been fighting/arguing/picking, but it's just been days! Whew. Maybe that's over with.

Turner still had a pretty good outburst when I was finishing up dinner. It all starts out innocent enough but if he's got one foot already over the line he'll end up in a full 'Daddy' tantrum. Screaming for John, banging on his door, rolling around. I try to just ignore some of the things he says and when the outburst occurs (which was, oddly enough, totally unprovoked today) and when it seems like he quiets down I go in and ask if he's ready to 'talk.' I'll tell him why I had him take a break and then we'll talk about how we miss Daddy, etc. Today, though, he peed his pants. It just makes me feel so terrible that I have to still continue to discipline or put him in his room to take a breather. In todays case, he started his freak-out while he and Eli were out back so I asked him to just come in and take a break -he wasn't being disciplined or anything. Any way, I just feel so helpless in some situations.

When he's done with his outburst he'll say he's angry and he doesn't want to talk. If this is toddlerdom, then what the hell is a teenager like? Yikes. I think he knows the term "angry" because I have said "are you mad/angry?" So, I'm assuming that's why he knows what the word is in the first place -not necessairily the association.

At the end of the day, I guess a silly face makes it all better...

Oh! And here's our Easter grass!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Giveaway: Win over $100 in grass-fed meats

I've been following Nourished Kitchen on Facebook for a few weeks. I'm not sure if I found it through a friend or another blog, but I've been loving her posts on anything from the political side of food marketing to super easy, yet honestly simple, recipes like sesame-honey candy (that I made the other day!)

Any way, Jenny, the master behind the great website has giveaways. This time it's for over $100 in grass-fed meats from US Wellness Meats. I'm not one for winning (somehow, I never win random contests -it has to be some sort of physical game for me to even have a remote chance of winning!) but I thought I'd participate. No harm, no foul!

Since living in the produce basket of the world we have been trying to buy sustainable fruits and vegetables to support farmers. Lately, I have been trying to make the move to grass-fed meats. It's hard, when you move around often. It's not like I can participate easily in a co-op and get myself an entire cow to store in my deep freezer! I have cut out the sub-par meats and refuse to buy brands like Perdue or store brand beef.

That said, I'm dying for some beef...

Day 80

A report from the trenches:

We are 80 days in to this deployment. It's not the first time I've been 80 days without the love of my life; it's not even the second or third. Being without him isn't the hard part anymore.

The heart break lies in the kids. In January, I think we were in survival mode and the boys didn't notice John was gone. February was quick and, while not painless, the questions Turner had were satisfied when we looked at the world map on the wall or read Night Catch. This month, though... wow. I can't count the number of melt downs that resulted in: "I just want my dad." My response is always a swift hug while we all sit down and cuddle. I choke back tears as best I can because seeing that pain in them just breaks my heart in to a million pieces.

In the past few weeks things have gotten worse. Turner is showing frustration more often. He will really lash out and scratch himself -mostly on his pants or shirt. He will scream at Eli or say things to me that have me wondering if he's angry. Can a three year old show anger? It's all very difficult for me to understand. Eli seems to be following suit with a lot of tantrums (which I know is normal for his age, but...).

They are both extremely attached to me. More so than even when nursing or going through that phase in toddlerhood. They are both extremely wary of other people and Eli will often say to me "scared." Our sleeping situation hasn't been the best since John's departure. The boys were up every night whether it was Turner just coming in to my room randomly every night or Eli waking up and screaming -we have almost been up every night since January. After our bout with the bacterial infection it looks like this: Turner falls asleep in my bed (rather quickly, so I shouldn't complain), I let Eli fall asleep in my arms in the living room (again, rather quickly) and then I transfer him and we all sleep together!

One bright point: I was woken up with a very sweet kiss on the nose from Eli. I guess this will work for now...

I am killing myself trying to prepare for the next day because if I'm caught off guard I get trampled on. If breakfast isn't at least thought of we start off on the wrong foot. Eli has been spitting out every breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am just failing on so many different levels. Not really failing, but falling short. *sigh* I promised myself I'd think of more lunch and dinner ideas tonight, but I got sucked in to relaxing...

Here we are 80 days later, still trying to figure out what we're doing...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Grow Your Own Easter Grass!

This is probably a little late to serve as any sort of tutorial, but this year I've decided we're going to start a new tradition: growing Easter grass. Not only is it a little more interesting than the fake "grass" that is sold in stores, but I won't have to deal with random strings of fake grass for weeks. It's as bad as Christmas tree tinsel, to me.

I started with the boys baskets. They're not heirloom nor super expensive so I won't be sad if our experiment goes awry.
Ok, just had to show you this. I accidentally bought 3,000 square feet of plastic wrap in Monterey, California...3 years ago!
I added a plastic bag on the bottom for some 'lift' while the grass was growing. Then, I lined the basket with two sheets of plastic wrap.
I taped the sides so when the boys added dirt the entire thing didn't collapse.
We added our soil.
Then the grass seed made up of mostly rye seed, so it's quick growing.
Then, I let the kids squirt away!
Poor Ollie, he couldn't quite figure out how to spray anything but his face!
We started this little project a few days before the illnesses slapped us! So, I'm happy to say we actually have some grass growing in our baskets. I'm hoping it turns out and, if not, we'll try something else.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Well, That Sucked

I last left you hanging on the edge of your seat (I know, gripping, right?) with our illness. As luck would have it, we were whacked with a doozie (do people still say that?) of a cold. Saying cold really lessens what we've been feeling around here for the past 5 days. Actually, it's been over seven days of feeling lousy but 3 with our diagnosis from the Mayport Naval Health Clinic.

When I took the boys in, we were looking a bit offensive. It was obvious that Turner had pink eye, but after examining his ears and chest she concluded a bacterial infection had caused everything. For Turner it was pink eye, an ear infection (right ear), a very inflamed throat, a terrible cough and chest congestion. He was given augmentin, a cough medicine, eye drops and an inhaler. Eli had pink eye, a bilateral ear infection and the same harsh cough. Luckily, he was a few hours/days behind Turner and nothing had moved to his chest.

For the days leading up to the visit to the clinic our nights were long and restless. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were absolutely sleepless. I spent every ounce of energy trying to make them comfortable, doing what they needed, etc. We all slept in the same bed, took the same showers (I think it helps to move the boogies along), at the same crap, cried the same tears and watched the same cartoons. Finally, Thursday, we were able to get the boys to the doctor and on medicine. After the first dose of drops their eyes cleared and by the second dose of augmentin and cough stuff they were much more normal! Last night we all slept through the night. Well, at least, I don't remember waking up...

Oh? Me? Yes. I got almost everything the boys got. Pink eye, cough, and bronchitis. To add a little more insult to the entire situation, I "threw out" my back. While carrying Eli from the clinic back to the car I coughed and my back just went in to an entire spasm. The spasm makes a muscle in my butt squeeze around nerve that runs from your spin down your legs. Any way, it causes severe pain and your body spasms the muscles (again) to try to compensate. Needless to say I drove home in tears and am still walking around haunched over. The rest of Thursday was terrible and in addition to alllll that, I found out John was in port Turkey but couldn't even email because of all the craziness going on for his end. Friday, I still wasn't able to get a phone call and my mom couldn't come up until today. THEN, I started having Braxton-Hicks contractions that continued until today. I called the midwife and she confirmed what I was thinking: probably just dehydration. Seven Gatorades and countless bottles of water later they've stopped (I don't remember them being so uncomfortable!).

I am so done after all of this. My mom is here now and I'm heading out tomorrow to try to find a homeopathic remedy for my cough. I need relief as I'm coughing so hard it's exacerbating the back problem and it makes me gag. I feel bad enough I had to take zythromax to get relief, so a natural remedy for the cough is a must.

There's no time to be done, though. I guess if it doesn't kill you...cue Christina Aguilera's 'Stronger' and dance in your undies when no one's watching.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Where is that half way point? I know it's on the horizon...

Compared to others, we've had it easy. I know that. However, when your babies are sick the days seem endless.

A few days ago Turn started out with a dry cough. I thought we'd have another cold on our hands so we went out for orange juice from the Fresh Market, loaded up on the vitamin C tablets and started their Children's ACF. The cough progressed to deeper cough and then, the eye gunk came.

Now Turner looks like this:

Eli is crusty, but his eyes are not as red and irritated looking as Turners.
They are both coughing up a storm and Eli coughed so hard he threw up. Poor little guys. I really hate taking them to the doctor, especially a clinic on base. It's not that I'm against doctors or even antibiotics, but if the kids can fight something off naturally I prefer that route. This time, however, my little boys need relief. They are miserable, they miss their daddy and the haven't slept well in days. We are off to base for a back-to-back appointment session.

It seems like it's been so long since they've slept really well for very many days at a time and I'm feeling like the wall is coming. I'm about to hit it hard and it's going to be painful!

Here's to another crazy night in our bed and the patience of Mother Theresa. My throat is sore, I can't stop coughing, I was head butted last night, my back is killing me (2 back surgeries + pregnancy + carrying around large toddlers + sleeping in random positions = ouch), I've had a headache for days and my entire body is sore. I just want to sleep...

Duty calls.

**And not even my new Orla Keiley bag made anything better. Crap, I think my husband reads this now... Hi, sweetie, I used my Gap card. It's like Monopoly money! Muah hahahaha... love you! **

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Birthday St. John!

**Warning: you may find this a bit mushy but it's for my sweets**

My Dearest Peanut Butter,

I remember your first deployment like it was yesterday! We had only know each other for just a few weeks before you left so when your birthday rolled around I sent a box of junk: cards filled with annoying confetti and other random things. What birthday was that? Your 23rd?

There's no doubt in my mind being stuck on a ship for your birthday probably sucks, but we appreciate your sacrifice so much. While people are out drinking their weight in green beer (and paying dearly for it the next day) you're doing your job and participating in something far greater than most of those people will ever realize.

We miss you so much and love you more than you'll ever know. The boys had fun celebrating a little early last month so I'm sure they'll never miss your actual birth date. I'm pretty bummed that your box never got there, even though we mailed it days after Valentine's!
Here are a few shots from our birthday 'party' for you!

Any way, Sliante! One day, we'll have some green beer together; we've never done that.

Love you like a fat kid loves cake,



Of course, it's the first gorgeous day (sunny + warm(er)) we've had for months and I'm not feeling well. For our slow start this morning, we made some butter.

I know you can make your own butter by just shaking up some cream, but I was wondering if there was a way to make it a bit easier for the kids. So, I asked my neighbor for a few baby food jars and here's what we did:

Pour heavy whipping cream in baby food jars. You can fill the jars about 3/4 of the way. I think I let the jars sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. So, I'm not certain the cream actually has to be room temperature.
Start shakin'!

Within about a minute you'll have a thick cream and you'll see it start to form in to a more solid ball.
Maybe about a minute after the thick cream, you'll hear liquid again. If you peak inside the jar, you'll see a little ball of fresh butter. No amazing amount of salt and no stabilizers for shelf life!

Just butter.
I lined a small bowl with one paper towel and fished out the butter with a small fork. Pat the butter a little to soak up the excess butter milk (but not too much so it's dry). Then, flip the butter in to a small bowl and add anything you like for flavoring. We added maybe 1/4 teaspoon of maple syrup, and then spread it on to some bread. I was thinking it's going to be the perfect accompaniment to our weekly banana loaf.

The boys drank the buttermilk straight from the jar. They thought it was a bit odd, but didn't mind!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I really need to do myself a BIG, FAT, favor and cut a girl some slack. I've been such a mixed bag of emotions lately. Feeling like I'm awesome, a failure, a bad mom, a great mom, insane, boring, blah, happy and fun all at the same time.

It seems like the beginning of the month I have my little moments when I feel like it's just the low on the roller-coaster ride. I give myself permission for a few tears then soldier on. Today, in particular, I felt like I just couldn't do anything right. The kids woke up cranky (for the ?? morning in a row), they were picking on each other, Turner is full-throttle in the 'no' stage, he was up all night in my bed (for some extra cuddles) coughing, the floors are a mess, no one wanted the pancakes I made, and I turned the dang TV on. It's funny that these things can add fuel to a fire. I mean, normally, I'd brush them off. No big. These days I just feel like I can't do enough for the kids. Almost like I'm making up for John being gone.

Anyway, I sat down to rest my sandy beach toes and think about what we can do this week and I realized:

In one day I do A LOT of cool stuff...and it was a slow day! I am doing the best I can with the knowledge I've got; these kids are NOT suffering. The morning started off slow, but it's Sunday! I made tiny Carrot Pineapple Muffins from pulp that came from the fresh juice we made, chocolate tofu pudding, and bath crayons! I'm not listing a link because the tutorials I've found did not work for me! If the crayons turn out I'll post a tutorial later this week. I also took the boys to the beach to play with friends, made sure the sink was empty and everything is pretty well straightened.

I am amazed at what a body and mind can really endure. This, by far, is not a struggle. There are people in this world, in this country and in this city going through far greater challenges. I can remember being in college and thinking I was soooo tired from doing x, y and z PLUS going to a party. As a new mom I didn't think I could take many more sleepless nights, but this....this is really showing me what I'm made of. When you are stripped of sleep and help from your partner, pregnant, and taking care of two toddlers you really see how much you can bend. I am so thankful I do not also have to go out and be a breadwinner. I just don't see how single moms do what they do!

Some days I go to bed and never see the sliver lining. Tonight, as I get my 2 hours and 4 minutes of uninterrupted sleep, I'll remember that it's true: what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

**update** I jinxed myself and had an incredibly long night: 2.4 hours was more like 1.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Separation Sucks

I miss my husband. Straight up. Flat out. Plain old. $200 for family separation is stupid and hurtful.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

I'm really hoping there are no lions involved in this endless month! Really, there are others with 31 days but March seems soooo loooong. What in the world are we going to do?

Things I hope we get to do this month:
  • Make pine cone bird feeders and hang them from our orange tree
  • wet felted eggs for the Spring Celebration raffle basket
  • plant our Easter grass
  • finish planting and not immediately kill our garden
  • cooking more for the kids (we're on a snack type meal plan)
  • continue to establish a rhythm
I'm sure we'll be able to bang out all of those things, but the rhythm is something we're learning daily. I hope that by the time John gets back we can just usher him in to his place. We've always had some sort of daily "schedule" that went something like: wake up, eat breakfast, mommy fill in the blank, play, lunch, play, mommy fill in the blank, dinner. I'm working on getting the boys to learn the natural flow of the day and include lots of new crafting things and even getting in to a weekly rhythm so we know what we're doing Monday through Sunday. With, of course, room for what may come.

Here's to a break in the rain to get those seeds in the planters!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Learning, learning

My head is spinning from all the information I've been reading about the world of Waldorf. Thinking of the things that work and probably won't work, things I like, things I don't particularly agree with.

What has been working is zero TV during the day. It's been an interesting transition, that's for sure. The boys really look forward to sitting for a show before nap time and before bed time. I've been able to knock out everything but the evening show. I'm not fretting, though: I need it more than they do. It gives us a chance to cuddle up on the couch and regroup and I'm ok with that. They're not going to die, nor lose brain cells over Yo Gabba Gabba.

There is so much to be said about children viewing or not viewing television. I'm not interested in debating the topic, but, rather, making changes within my family. Within one week I've noticed the boys playing together more. There have been less fights (let me tell you, I am always intervening for one reason or another) and they are now "talking" to each other while they sit at their little table. Hey, it might be that a week makes a difference in their development but I'm fairly certain it's because we've really been doing things together. I can say that with the TV on we're spending time together but it's not true time when I'm running around like crazy.

Fun we've been having this week:
potato chip making (baked)
lots of dough* playing
putting together our first nature table (straight up items gathered outside, placed on a table)
starting a garden in our Earth Boxes
baking banana bread (we've tweaked this recipe and I LOVE it)
bike rides
LOTS of story telling! (Turner adores hearing a story and then repeating it. Eli listens and asks for the story again)

Most of this is normal for our week but there have been some changes. Having the boys "help" with housework is a bit difficult for me, though it does work.

The one thing I'm having trouble with right now is trying to do an activity (like baking bread) with toddlers of different ages. I'm hoping to find some insight in You Are Your Child's First Teacher. I've been devouring the book like it's chick-lit. I'm also looking forward to receiving Beyond the Rainbow Bridge and Seven Times the Sun for more ideas about how to better handle the day and to get an idea of what will and won't work for us in terms of rhythm.

*The Best Dough Ever!*
1 c. warm water
1/3 c. sea salt
2 tbs. vegetable oil
3 c. flour

Mix water, salt and oil in a bowl. Add flour and mix well and then knead. Keep wrapped in plastic and enjoy for a few days.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Finding Balance in Our Home

Life is good. It's not dramatic, it's not hectic, it's just what I've always hoped for: totally, painfully, blisfully normal. As in almost everything in life, we're all constantly learning. John and I learn different ways to communicate and make our marriage strong despite his schedule, the boys learn everything at an astonishing rate, and our family learns how to adjust to the ebb and flow of life.

My short term goals are to find balance in our life for the next few months. I'm working on:

1.) A screen-free day. We're doing quite well here. Let me just say that the boys really didn't watch that much in the first place but quitting the tube all day is difficult. As the kids wake up, I have to imagine almost 95% of stay-at-home-moms do the same thing: flip on the TV for one show so you can make a quick breakfast. Nine times out of ten we turn it off and head outside or play inside. But, if the weather is bad or someone is cranky I will turn the TV back on for a show or even pop on a movie. It's no on all day. Ever.
The past few mornings, we've had it off at all costs. The first day, in fact, I had to unplug the TV because it was Turner's habit to turn it on. The boys wake up, wake me up and then we get milk, breakfast and sit at their table. I've been sitting with them to eat instead of rushing around to clean/check email, facebook, etc. We'll read a chapter in a book and then it's game on for whatever they fancy. Usually it's running wild!
Ideally, I'd like to be up 30 minutes or more before they are but I'm just going to get what sleep I can right now. We'll roll with the punches and call it a day.

2.) Not raising my voice. The kids have reeeeally picked up on my raised voice. I won't say "yelling" here because it's not been yelling. They're so little it's not like I'm screaming at them. More like speaking loudly when I feel like I need control over the situation. Right now it's Turner asking "why?" about E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. and his "no" response to even the simplest things. It's driving me insane.
I have noticed the boys saying things in that heightened tone to each other, or their toys, out of frustration. It bothers me because as kid my mom was always speaking with a raised voice. I know it was, and still is, her personality but I always felt like I was being yelled at -even in most general conversations.
I'm trying to find balance in those situations where that tone is required (for example: Eli running toward the street does not require a silent action!) and where it's not (Turner's incessant "NO!").

3.) Accepting help. the form of two toddlers. It's messier, takes longer and isn't perfect, but it's worth the restraint on my part. I thought I was doing a good job at letting them "help," but after spending a few days really letting them get involved I can see that I wasn't letting them do much at all. More of my energy (when I can spare) is going to be spent on having them help me pick up. I don't mind going in later and straightening to my liking -especially if it helps me feel more 'together' the next day.

This may not seem like a lot on the surface, but it's a start. A positive about the deployment: I think it's given me more time to focus on these changes. I hope we can establish something different around here now so we can deal with the incredible changes in July -a daddy and a baby!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Last Run Report of this Pregnancy

...and probably for quite some time. BOB doesn't make a triple. I'm going to have to get a bike, a trailer, some helmets and some awesome quads and hammies!

Thanks to a babysitter, I was able to get out for my last run before the Disney Princess Half Marathon next Sunday. I ran a city block and, here in Jacksonville it was close to 7 miles. Seriously, they're huge. Great music and a great run!

I am amazed and so thankful for what my body was able to do these past 20 weeks. Not that I was counting, but I'm certain I didn't run this much in the last two pregnancies combined. With my first I was nervous about everything: heart rate, the jumbling around of the fetus in his little home. I thought I was awesome for going on a hike. The second pregnancy I was too tired and made all the usual excuses a pregnant mamma makes plus we moved across the country and then I just got bigger...and bigger...32 lbs on someone that's never gained more than 17 is painful!

Within four weeks I will have run two whole marathons and that's not including the (lack of) training, chasing around after the kids and rolling with all the punches of the last two months. I am just thankful to have another healthy pregnancy and the chance to do this.

It's been good for my body and good to show the kids that mommy doesn't stop when daddy leaves.

But, it hasn't been so good for...................

Waaaaait for it.......................................................................

My toes: