Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tooooo Funny!

While playing with Myla today - and checking out her toy camera - she proceeded to take it from my hands at one point saying, "Let me take your picture, mama." 
Me: "Okay" (smiling)
Camera: "You're a GREAT animal photographer!"
Myla: (looking at the camera after taking my pic) "Oh, you're so cute!"
Me: "Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahaaa!"
(Thinking, 'That's not what the camera thinks!')

A few minutes later...

I said to her, "I want to eat those cute little toe-toes!" 
Myla: "Nooooo. That's not lunch!"
Me: "I know, but they're so cute and soft, I want to eat them anyway!"
Myla: "No mama. Sandwiches are yummy. My feet are yucky." 
(She loves the book Yummy Yucky, by Leslie Patricelli. It's a favorite around here! This is funnier if you've read it.)

A QUOTE: "There's always something to write about. If there's not then you need to live life more aggressively."  ~Min Kim, Better Blogging Brainstorming, SXSW 2006

WHIDFML: Drank some mouth-watering, healthy, real-deal tea from Teavana. Mmmmmm.


When the Dog Bites, When the Bee Stings...

When I'm feeling sad........ I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad!

I'm a green-machine! Since I moved out of the house at age 22, I began making a transition to organic foods and chemical-free products anywhere I could. The more I got into it, and the more I understood & learned, the less I wanted that stuff around me (or in me!) I'm so glad I got into the habit (and got my husband into the habit) - before babies arrived. 

Sure, I still have people around me who say things like, "Ah - we've been using/ eating/ doing that for years... and we're still alive..." Sometimes I have to bite my tongue to avoid asking, "And how is your quality of life??" It may not have a pronounced enough effect that you can pinpoint it. And, it may not produce negative side-effects promptly, but over time. I just know our bodies weren't wired to handle it. So I see it as doing my part to do my best to prevent issues from arising later in life. We all want what's best for our babes too - and I've found ways to maintain my green-clean-life on a budget! All can be found at your local Target stores. Continue below...

Products I feel good about using - especially as a mom - and a mom on a budget:
~ Method brand cleaning products (any). My favorite are the cleaning wipes. They are great for bathroom clean-up (especially in-between more thorough cleanings). 
*I also really enjoy the sprays. You can use them anywhere - they smell great - and you don't have to worry about setting food on the counter-top after having cleaned it (ironic, eh?) If used in the tub, you don't have to be concerned with taking a long hot soak, or putting your little ones in for a soak. *Great hypoallergenic liquid fabric softener 
~ 7th Generation dishwasher detergent - It doesn't leave a residue/ spots, and washes clean... BONUS - I don't feel like re-washing before using/ letting my kids use eating utensils!
~ Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent - hypoallergenic, plant-based surfactants... the ingredient list is literally 3 items long (and easy to pronounce)! Also - best bang for buck amongst the family of people & earth-friendly detergents. 
~ Palmolive Pure & Clean - Palmolive has actually always (as far as I've known, anyway) been free of phosphates. Now, they have boosted it further. Only makes me feel better. Very affordable!
~ Greenworks toilet bowl cleaner - I LOVE the way I can squirt it right up under the rim, and let it sit and soak a bit... before coming back to scrubbing. It's earth-friendly - so you can feel good about flushing! 
~ Dawn dish soap - but not for dishes! I like it for A) Pre-treating laundry stains (awesome!) and for B) Washing linoleum & tile floors. (Haven't tried it on the wood floors...) 
~ Swiffer!! The sweeper (NOT the wet-mop products.... You aren't even supposed to get that on your skin, so avoid that crap!) The sweeper is amazing - and picks up so well. But I have to say that the PLEDGE brand dry sweeper refills are cheaper, and work just as well. TIP! You can also use (and re-use, and re-use) a MICROFIBER cleaning cloth in place of the dry-sweeps. ALSO fab for washing the floors applied to the swiffer/ pledge with warm water & dish soap! Keep a couple of mf cloths to alternate... You just plunk it into the wash (with no fabric softener), and you don't have to purchase the refills! ** Double-Tip! [I do a load of non-fabric-softener wash - all my cleaning cloths and dish rags together]
~ Pledge brand dusters - (If you don't like to dust with a cloth and a stinky, greasy chemical) these are THE best! (Again, cheaper than Swiffer brand, but work great!)

While we're on the topic of favorite products... here are a few I couldn't live without as a mom:

~ Bouncy seat - portable, vibrating, kept my colic kiddo asleep for more than 10 minutes at a time! Yay. TIP! When babies are small enough to stay in seat (with belt, of course) - you can put them to sleep in the bouncy seat when sick with colds. It keeps the mucus (I know - gross!) from draining into their throats and causing them to cough and wake. It also keeps their plugged noses from plugging up completely - allowing them to keep the nuk in and everything!! Bonus - you can put them next to your bed/ in your room to watch them more closely when ill. If I could have only chosen one furniture item for my baby - it would have been this little chair! It was pure LOVE.
~ Nuk. The amazing pacifier that stays in their mouths! I prefer the silicone ones... seem less 'soft'/ lasted longer. TIP! Re-boil for 3 mins on occasion/ as needed to keep clean. 
~ Nuk-holders! Even when the Nuk stays in well, baby will still push it out. We also attached it to them at night (after they were at least 6 months old, and mobile) to keep it from falling out of their reach/ through the crib bars!! What a splendid invention! 
~ Portable/ DC baby monitor! I love the fact that you can plug it in when you're inside.... or grab and detach it - and away you go - anywhere you please around the yard/ house. You have battery option, but don't go through them as quickly. The one we like is by Safety 1st - $20 bucks! 

TIP! I mentioned in a previous post - but worth mentioning again... Trader Joe's is fantastic for organic and/or all natural, no fillers, no artificials, no preservatives, etc... good-for-you-foods, at very reasonable prices! Better than co-op pricing, and WAY better than your little corners dedicated to health in the big-name-ick-stores. 

A QUOTE:  "Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money."  ~ Jules Renard

WHIDFML: Listened to my bod, and went to bed early. Also - slept-in when I had the chance! Ahhhh, refreshing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Looking Ahead (And in the Meantime - Around Behind, & Sideways at All Times!)

I love the idea of doing some fun projects with my girls while they are home with me. Art projects, new games, new places to explore, all kinds of interaction! But, realistically, Addie is just too small still. I can already see the chaos unfolding in my mind's eye; Addie grabbing Myla's pink paper (the only remaining pink, surely), tearing it to shreds while knocking over the glitter pack, and dipping her face in glue... Myla crying in despair all the while, looking on hopelessly as Addie proceeds to destroy her (and my) sugar-plum visions of art-project time. Yes, this will have to wait a bit longer. Maybe by next year?? Myla will begin pre-school - but it should be a short day for her. I can still look forward to this with sugar and spice and all that is nice, right? ;)

The thing I have to remember, though, is that while these times will certainly be new and fun (and full of unexpected challenges most definitely)  - I can't let myself 'rush' this current time by too quickly (or can I?) They are only going to be babies once, and for a short time. Myla has already moved beyond baby-hood. Addie isn't far behind. But truthfully, I am happy as each new milestone is achieved... as it means we are all continuing to grow and move forward, and learn and be. Can't help but feel that we can all 'be' in greater harmony when we can all interact on somewhat of a similar level ground... without so much teasing , fighting, glitter-flinging, glue-eating, or paper-shredding. *[Pretty sure my imagination's description about how this would go at this stage isn't so far-fetched!]

TIP!  Encouraging games like "house"/ "baby" has enabled both girls to pretend & play together - the littlest one mimicking the strategies of the older one... Just be sure to have 2 of everything! (Well, at least 2 dolls.)

A QUOTE: "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear."  ~ Joan didion

WHIDFML: I sat out this weekend and soaked up a few minutes of what remained of some warm, late-summer sun. Vitamin D needed right now! Can't let it slip away - not yet.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What Goes Through the Minds of My Neighbors When...

I open up the kitchen door, or roll down the window in the truck, to toss out a banana peel into the yard (usually aiming for tree branches) - all while laughing hysterically... by myself?

A) Good thing her husband loves her
B) WTF? What is WRONG with that woman??
C) I just don't GET it.
D) Is that her idea of composting?
E) Do squirrels eat banana peels?
F) At least it's biodegradable
G) Can we move? Soon?
H) Ummmmmm, Did you see that? What WAS that?
I) Her kids are making her bananas! ;)
J) Must be a private joke between her and her husband. He's always picking them up. 
K) A little bit of everything mentioned above?

You decide on this one. ~ Feel free to leave your comments! 

TIP! Banana peels decay quickly and start to stink up the garbage can (and house) fast. I just throw mine around the yard!! They blend in after a couple of days (upon turning brown), and it's super fun teasing my husband. [big grin] (He has no problem leaving mountain dew cans/ bottles or tools lying around... but heaven forbid we "junk up our yard" with a naturally biodegradable food peel.) I can't resist! One time, I draped one on the side-view mirror of his car, and he drove about a block before realizing it! Hahahahahahahahaha! (I am admittedly a little bit crazy.)

A QUOTE: "It's not about the writing. It's about the feelings behind the words."  ~Takayuki Ikkaku

WHIDFML: I skipped doing laundry all last week. (Yep - it was still here come this week!)

Friday, September 25, 2009

How Do I Appear to My Neighbors When ...

 I step outside of the threshold onto the cement, holding open the door while wildly calling for (and cursing a bit) the dog that just will NOT respond and come into the damn house already... ONLY to find that she sheepishly tip-toes past me - OUT the door frame from inside the house, tail between her legs as though she's done something wrong?

B) Confused
C) Meanie
D) Insane
E) Goofy
F) Effed-Up
G) Most of the above
H) All of the above

OR - I) A sleep-deprived mother of two toddlers who also have not slept well in 2 weeks, and who continue to melt-down over nothing constantly, battling wills against the parents, won't put  on shoes to leave the house as I'm juggling locking windows, doors, *Letting in the Dog*, eating something quick, packing a diaper bag, refilling juice cups, and shuffling everyone out the door to get to the pediatric dentist on time - (In 5 minutes... It's 15 minutes away.)

*[The correct answer is "I".... Oh alright - and "A"... A bit of a trick-question.]

TIP! A run-on-sentence (or 2) is perfectly acceptable, when necessary to get a point across!

A QUOTE: "A great writer reveals the truth even when he or she does not wish to."  ~Tom Bissell

WHIDFML: Skipped the major ordeal of cooking a big dinner (though that usually falls to Joel who embraces this skill), and cleaning up afterward (this part falls unto me.) - We winged it with easy stuff... pizza for J and the girls, and gf waffles for me - (so yummy!) Ahhhh. Nice to relax.

You Won't Find Much Sympathy Here!

I have on a few occasions, reconnected with some past acquaintances with whom I'm now a 'Facebook Friend'. Facebook has been a useful tool in networking my photo-biz, but also a great way to connect with people (and other SAHMs) on a day-to-day basis - both directly and indirectly. It's been surprisingly fun - not at all what I had anticipated - and I mean that in a good way! (Kudos fb!)

I have also, on a few occasions now, come across some precarious postings from a few of these fb friends. In one sentence, they manage to combine a complaint about a difficulty in their child-rearing-filled day, coupled with their sincere love and appreciation for their most wonderful - NANNIES!

Hey - if you can afford a nanny - more power to you. I have no qualms about that. In fact, if we could have afforded one, I'm sure I would have by now - at least during some of the especially- challenging stages with my toddlers who are only 17 months apart. But - I do suddenly notice the stinging of my tongue as my teeth begin to leave permanent impressions upon it when someone proceeds to vent about a supposed hardship that occurs while sharing childcare responsibilities with one. WHAT?

Sure, kiddos can still be demanding and defiant - even with 2 sets of hands present. Sometimes when Daddy's around, there still seems like there is nothing that can be done to calm a melt-down or correct a certain misbehavior. But, YOU HAVE A FREAKIN' NANNY!! Someone specifically in tune to the needs of children, and there for the purpose of helping care for them, is there with you - and for you. No waiting for the bread-winner to come home from the job and offer you some relief. No need to put off that ever-increasing list of 'must-do's' to impose a time-out or even make a sandwich for a hungry munchkin! If you need to run to the store - you can hop into your vehicle and go girl! YOU HAVE A FREAKIN' NANNY. 'Nuf said.

TIP! If you have a spare set of hands lying around, make good use of them, and revel in every moment for which they are available to you. If you don't, remember to breathe deeply when the air gets thick! Really - breathing deeply helps you physically calm down, and also helps to keep the muscles/ tension & lack of oxygen from causing other probs - like headaches. (Plus, it just plain feels good!)

My Silver Lining: Not having a nanny is making me stronger     ?     (Or bringing me that much closer to the crazy-house?!?) [Insert wink & crooked smile here.]

A QUOTE: "I always wrote with the idea that what I put out there is going to stay there. Once I publish something, it has been published. I've never deleted more than one or two posts from my site. I don't think that there are take-backs. I don't feel right about it."  ~ Alison Headley, Digital Preservation and Blogs, SXSW 2006

WHIDFML:Cranked up the volume for a reeeeally good song that I la la loooove, and danced around the kitchen with my girls!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cheese for Breakfast

Would you like some whine with your cheese? Thank you - but no! My girls have been whining for days about the abundant array of foods we have for them to consume early in their waking hours... They've been going through a phase (we hope) where they have no interest in any kind of breakfast fare whatsoever. No eggs, no toast, no waffles, no pancakes, no cereal (not even their beloved Cheerios!!), no oatmeal, no pop-tarts (Actually - Nature's Path Organic Toaster Patries - with no hydrogenated oils, artificial anything, or preservatives!), nada. I was really struggling with what to even offer anymore, when my littlest little one gleamed gregariously while asking for "sheeeeee. mama." (Translation: "Cheese, mama.")

I hesitated - but only momentarily - while I weighed the consequences of this in my mind... 
~ 'Tis a healthy request
~ Baby will stop crying and eat
~ It could definitely be worse...

~ Baby becomes constipated when too much cheese is consumed as it is... How about bright and early in the A.M.?? 
~ This is going to morph into a phase of its own... We'll go for weeks of having cheese for breakfast. (Where is that Miralax?!)  *[Disclaimer: I have NO medical background or knowledge... I am merely following our pediatrician's recommendation regarding Miralax usage. Please contact your Doc before employing any medicinal applications - particularly with your children! Special instructions apply - seek them from your Doc.]
~ We may need to consider purchasing stock in cheese............

So. As it stands today, we've been consuming cheese, crackers, and apples (thank God - the fruit helps keep the bowels functioning properly!) for breakfast for about a week and a half thus far. Thankfully, our doc provided us a little insight into gentle bowel stimulation. Again, please check with your own Doc before attempting anything medicinal.

TIP! If they request something healthy - what they hey? It's better than the fight... and better than cookies for breakfast. Phases are supposedly temporary anyway, right? We shall see!

WHIDFML: Bought a new bra (or 3)! Seriously - some places just have the right deals on the least-likely shizz! I found 3 stunning lady-hoisting beauties for less than the price of one Victoria's Secret bra on clearance! They fit better than some of my previous VS boulder-holders, and are really rather decadent-looking too. Okay Okay - hold on, I'm about to share! I found them at (are you sitting down?) Burltington Coat Factory. Yeppers. You read right. They have killer deals on really fun lingerie. So there ya be!

For the Love of [insert name of preference here]... WHAT is that SMELL?!?

Sensitive noses, unite! Will our houses stink forever? Nah - once the kids move you, you'll be just fine. Maybe.
It's this constant battle between 'good' & 'evil'. "Out with you oh evil smelling stench! Won't you join us in the battle, fresh and lovely candles, sprays, & perfumes??"

Is it the diaper pail?
TIP! Use a man's scented body-spray, such as AXE brand, to spray the inside of the pail before re-bagging... Seems to zap the odors pretty well, actually... (it overtakes it at least.) *[Lysol is the old-school disinfecting/ deodorizing system - that still works great! If you like old-school.] ;)

Is it the garbage?
TIP! Clean inside & out with vinegar diluted in water to keep ants from relishing in the hum. Allow to dry before re-bagging, and that potent vinegar-scent will evaporate, leaving behind a clean & fresh trash can. (Again - Lysol can be our friend here as well.)

Is it the garbage-disposal?
TIP! If you have fresh lemongrass in your crisper drawer place a stick in and let 'er rip! (Or cilantro - Mmmm!) If you don't have that handy, some uneaten toddler-bits of apple will also freshen the fumes. Another trick - toss in some whole coffee beans, and run hot water while it grinds 'em up. Helps slough off any scum while adding a nice aroma to the sink.

Is it shoes?
TIP! If stored in a closet (ie: coat-closet) hang a few car air-fresheners inside. If stored in an entryway - on a rug - use linen spray on rug (as often as needed.) Spritz some inside tennies too. (My fave is from Bath & Body Works - Aromatherapy line - Pillow Mist, in Sensuality ~ $10.)

Is it the grubby-hubby's work boots (again)?
TIP! Spray that AXE man-scented body spray in there  - lay it on thick, baby! Don't be shy. You'll probably need to do that again tomorrow. And the next day... And the next... And again the next day.... Keep a couple (thousand) cans on hand. *[Bonus: If he doesn't normally wear it himself, you get to have your yummy-man-smell-fix while freshening up the house!]

Is it the laundry hamper?
TIP! If you can, I recommend stashing them inside closets. Not a ton of air to circulate the stink, and how many people come over and hang out inside your closets? (Okay, how many people who are over 3 feet tall?)
PS: Pre-treat stains (especially on baby clothes) without icky chemicals! Use some Dawn Dish Soap - and rub in with some warm water. Ideally, let sit for a bit before washing. If stubborn stains (ie: grape juice) remain - hang dry and repeat. (Time & Resource-saver: I usually just let them hang there until I put in the next load, and add items again at that time.)

A QUOTE: "If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul."  ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

WHIDFML: Painted my toe-nails. (BTW, they don't smell.) :)

Making the Most of YOUR Time

If you're a stay-at-home parent, with children who are not yet school-aged, you know how precious your every minute of nap time is. My girls stay sleeping for an average of 2 hours per day. Somehow, I usually seem to have more than 2 hours worth of household chores, personal upkeep (ie: EATING!), and other projects to accomplish within that time frame. The  key to accomplishing anything at all - lies in organizing your time via prioritization. Kind of a whole list of TIPS! today:

First - I try to wake in enough time before them to both ready myself for the day, and also make some initial contact with the outside world via the www. Maybe I can slip in the first load of laundry that taunts my nose with hints of spilled milk, wafts of perspiration, and tales of stale perfume.

Second - I make a point to now finish items on the ol' Too-Much-To-Do-List, according to what I can do WITH the help of my girls while they are awake. They are at an age where they are captivated by the opportunity to pull clean dishes from the dishwasher, and redirect them to close-to-accurate resting places (or the floor - scrubbed 3 times per day - so either way.) They relish in the joys of folding clean laundry *(or unfolding newly-folded clean laundry.) I say - take 'em up on this while they are willing ~ and before they are seeking an allowance! May be slightly more challenging, as their ideas of 'helping' generally tend to make the job slightly lengthier in time, and shorter in the way of neatness, but it's done now, isn't it? Okay then!

Third - They enjoy watching a show (kid vid or TPT) on most days of the week. I require that they play first, getting out some energy. Once it's officially show-time, they sit behind the computer by only a few feet. There, I can put my fingers to work - networking online (or Farmville on Facebook), business emails (or funny forwards), or writing projects (freeing the spinning thoughts from my over-stimulated, under rested brain), all within earshot and eye-shot. I consider it kind of a head-start on projects.

Next - I do what has to be done today, as soon as they are put down for nap. Git-R-Done!

Finally - I use whatever time remains to 'play' (as with processing & blogging non-business-related photos of my kids, etc.) Or, I continue the flow of what was already begun earlier in the day/ week (ie: one load of clean wet clothes into the dryer or hung, and the next stinky pile flung into the washing machine. Oh - the invention of the washing machine! Now if we can just create one that pre-treats stains.)  These are typically the things that can spill over into the following day/ week when there isn't enough time to complete the item(s).

Sounds easy, huh? Well I'll warn you now - it's not! But it does help some. If you have the means of allowing yourself even just one day to do what you need - a solid span of hours - while the grandparents, a trusted sitter, or the parkboard take on the kiddies, I highly recommend it.
H-I-G-H-L-Y. Even a few solid hours can make such a diff!

A QUOTE: How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. 
~ Henry David Thoreau

WHIDFML: Shared some ice-cream with my girls before bed last night! My little birdies :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good for Everyone!

Ah, Wednesday… Also fondly known as hump-day, mid-week, the half-way point, over the hill, git-r-done, I see a light nearing…. And most notably for me, it’s MOMMY-DAY! Wooohooo! I really don’t know how I managed without it, to be entirely bluntly honest.
I LOOOOOVE my girls. I adore them! They are amazing little people, who never cease to surprise me, and always manage to wrap me around those juicy little toe-toes - (my favorite baby-part!) – regardless of their intermingled mis-behavin’ or crab-havin’ ways.

But I must re-fuel before I putter out and stall on the roadside. It’s like hitting the ‘refresh’ button on your browser when the webpage won’t function properly. Comparable to re-booting the computer system when things start to go awry. It can be associated with slamming a 16 oz. bottle of ice cold water after running a marathon! Or, you could place it alongside soaking in a long, hot bath at the end of a wintery snow-shoveling day. Similar to a foot-rub after having been on your feet all day. (Someone just tell me to shut up already!)

Bottom line:
* Good for Grandma & Grandpa ~ They get their baby-fix!

* Good for Babes ~ They get their Grandma & Grandpa fix, and a change of scenery.

* Good for me ~ I feel refreshed & acquire a day to myself – for catching up on projects, running errands without bored & crabby little tots, tending to things that require more than 2 hours of my solid attention, or just plain relaxing if the opportunity presents itself. (Thank goodness for retired grandparents!)

TIP! If you can - arrange for some kind of day carved out of your week just for you. It's amazing how refreshed you feel when you get to hug those sweet little monsters again upon their return home!

A QUOTE: "Write something to suit yourself, and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely will anyone care for it." ~Jesse Stuart

WHIDFML: It's my 'day off'! I got to think... for an extended period of time... uninterrupted!!! WOW. Cheers!

A Funny for You

Always Check Their Homework!

Here’s the reply the teacher received the following day:

Dear Mrs. Jones,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.

I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had, and then I found one more in the back room, and that several people were fighting over who would get it.

Her picture doesn’t show me dancing around a pole. It’s supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot.

From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.

Mrs. Smith

I’m not quite to this point yet – as the girls aren’t yet in school… But I’ll definitely keep it in mind for future reference!

TIP! Always check their homework! ;)

A QUOTE: "Even writers need relief from words."
~Sarah Vowell

WHIDFML: Found some funnies to laugh about, and shared :)

And So... This Gluten Thing

Shortly after giving birth for the second round, I found myself feeling nearly-always bloated, struggled to lose the extra weight, fatigued (beyond the usual “I have 2 babies now – AHHHH!” fatigue), experiencing cramps of 2 kinds… lower digestion issues, as well as feeling like my period was just around the corner on a far-too-regular basis… I had other weird hormonal symptoms, as well as general indigestion that only seemed to be stifled by – well – by waking up in the morning, having not eaten food in more than 8-10 hours.

Finally – 8 months into this, I figured out it wasn’t just “I’m trying to get my body back after having another baby 17 months following the first baby…” post-pregnancy after-math. Visited the doc, whose instincts are rather admirable. I described my daily ordeal, and she scheduled some tests. She felt there were 2 sets of symptoms, and suggested that in the meantime, I also avoid gluten in my diet for about a week to see if it made any difference for me.

All I have to say is – 48 HOURS. Holy Shit Mama – I’m a whole new girl! Hey – some of these pants fit me again too… So NOW what?

My symptoms all but disappeared. I couldn’t believe it… Feeling good, but now I had this new hurdle to traverse. Recognizing (after some intentional and unintentional home-drawn ‘tests’ of my own) that even the hormonal indications were a result of my gluten intolerance, I decided it was in my best interest to continue to avoid it. I’m not the sweetest, most patient person when my hormones are all whacked. (Not to mention, continued gluten ingestion, when rejected by the bod, eventually degrades the body’s ability to absorb any nutrients from your food consumption – and this only worsens over time. Light-bulb-moment: No wonder my second babe couldn’t handle my breast milk, in spite of my other diet adjustments.)

Gleefully, my research highlighted many favorite foods that I would not have to give up, or that could be fairly easily substituted. (Joy!)

Even though substitutions exist – and it’s becoming a much more common and better-understood prob – I do miss my ability to eat certain things… such as Pizza… (Particularly the Trader Joe’s Organic 4-cheese variety, that my husband scents the house with on a regular basis during baking), and cookies (they do make them gf – but man – just NOT the same…so far, anyway.) I also miss cake (though I’m looking forward to trying a well-reviewed box-mix newly available. A good friend also has a pretty darn good gf home-made recipe. These just aren’t as readily available. If you don’t make it yourself/ are a guest for someone’s celebration-involving-cake, chances are – you don’t get to indulge.)

BUT – the silver lining (which I always strive to locate) is this: I’m forced to eat healthier [ie: no doughnuts, cake, cookies, or anything breaded & deep-fried.] In some cases it’s rather ironic, however. No whole-grain bread for this bread-loving diva anymore! Make that – NO bread…at all. (Well, except for the gf varieties. You can’t miss them – they are either frozen, and/or weigh the equivalent of a brick. Their texture is pretty much instant-cornmeal-like-crumbs-in-your-mouth, causing you to beg for anything moist to help get it down. Really? I’m SO over that.)

TIP(S)! Check out Trader Joe’s for a 7+ page list of Gluten-Free (gf) foods!
*Also – if you’re a fan of nutrition, but frown upon the inflated prices – check out TJ’s main page for their awesome array of organic and all-natural goods at fabulously-fair prices!

Check out these blogs for all kinds of great GF-related info, tips, answered Q’s!


A QUOTE: "This is the sixth book I've written, which isn't bad for a guy who's only read two."
~George Burns

WHIDFML: After making my daughter's b-day cake recently, I kept some of the (gf) frosting for me! It's frozen, and I take out a spoonful every time I'm feeling cake-deprived!

The Maid

I will probably never forget this conversation, as long as I live. My mind will surely wander to it every time I’m on my knees upon that kitchen floor, or washing dishes, or bathrooms, or cleaning potty-training ‘accidents’, or doing laundry (including Joel’s!), or figuring out the bills, or cleaning spilled juice, or pre-treating stains (should I stop now?)…

One day, Joel (the hubby) called from work to check on his girls. I was cleaning food from the kitchen floor (it’s entirety, mind you) for the second time that day beneath 2 high chairs, knowing very well that a 3rd round would follow dinner that evening. I had a sugar-plum vision before the phone rang, of me kissing my girls and running around with them while a kindly maid diligently made my floors, countertops, and dishes sparkle with cleanliness! I told Joel, “If we win the lottery… the FIRST thing I will do with the money is HIRE A MAID!” He chuckled, “Yeah, and pay her well for the little bit she’d have to do…” I – I went – silent. I couldn’t speak at that moment. I had to make sure I didn’t mis-understand. SERIOUSLY!? What did you just say??? I finally sputtered out a “What??????????” Followed up quickly by, “How LITTLE she’d have to do??? Is THAT what you think?!?! Are you kidding me?I feel like I’m cleaning CONSTANTLY!!!!”

Then, to calm down, I reminded myself that I could never handle a 40-hour, stale, confining, work-week situation…all while leaving my little people in the hands of someone else during those hours… and that I’m grateful for his devotion to us in that regard. He too realized how this impulsive response was – well – completely uncalled for!! And he quickly apologized, saying that’s ‘not what he meant’. I’m going to trust him on that one. He’s been given – (very unselfishly by me) - the opportunity to experience the never-ending bitter taste of household upkeep coupled with recurring baby-mess! He should know better, don’t you think?? Maybe he just needs a few more reminders while mommy takes some little breakies. ;) It can be arranged. It’s for his own good……… [insert rebellious and mildly vengeful laughter here.]

TIP! To keep up on your day-to-day, spring now and then for a little rejuvenation-in-a-bottle: Trader Joe’s Electrolyte Enhanced Water… YUM! You can also spring for those catch-a-mess-mats for the floor beneath the high chair. However, in our house, it’d need to be the full size of the kitchen floor. So we just don't even go there.....

A QUOTE: "The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and all time." ~George Bernard Shaw

WHIDFML: I skipped cleaning (other than the necessary food-clean-up daily) for a full extra week! (I had better things to do - what can I say?)

To Pee, or Not To Pee… What the HELL Kind of Question is THAT?!

Ah, the things we take for granted in our early adult lives, right? I mean, sleeping until we want to on the weekends… Showering any time… hell – twice a day some days! Eating when we are actually hungry, peeing when we have to pee…. This is what I mean when I had dreamier visions. I thought, somehow, my super-organized, extremely creative problem-solving, and neat-freak self would find that motherhood was just another thing to sort of incorporate into my daily calendar… Not so! I knew it wasn’t rainbows and butterflies. I knew there would be many challenges. I just never thought I’d have to wait days to shower in the beginning… or decide whether I could fall back to sleep at night when on vacation in order to avoid waking up the babies when nature - SCREAMED - my name.

The little things in life, huh? I know some people who wish they could have stayed home with their kids. But they too have visions of sugar plums bouncing around in their dreamy little heads. Visions of beach-bumming and dog-walking… and jogging behind the stroller. That’s an accurate vision I suppose, if you’re June Cleaver. Reality however, is not as pretty. It’s still colorful, but applied more like sloppy finger-paints than fancy brush-strokes.

So now, here I am in the middle of the woods in a camper with the fam, a seemingly long walk between our bed and the porta-potty in our camper’s bathroom. And there lie 2 sleeping babies in between the bed and the toilet. After waking them up one morning far too early – just as the sun was poking it’s tired eyes above lake-level – we decided to employ what we lovingly refer to as “the jug”. It’s a device specifically designed to catch human piss – when in a not-so-convenient locale’. They even have a “female adapter” for said device. Of course, we had to own one. Now we’re especially glad we do.

Here lies the sequence of my bathroom woes as a sufferer of “tiny bladder syndrome”, as it has been affected by life’s natural progression:

~ Grew up in a home with one bathroom on the main level – bedrooms upstairs…
~ Moved into a duplex unit where bed and bath were on one level, though at opposite corners of the divide.
~ Moved temporarily into an apartment where the bathroom was oh so conveniently located just around the corner from my bedroom.
~ During these years, I’ve peed in the outhouses up north, and decided that there were fewer spiders in the woods.
~ Progressed to peeing in the woods around our campsites!
~ At night, mosquitoes located blood vessels that only my husband should know exist, so we ‘upgraded’ to the tent-friendly “JUG”.
~ We’ve since moved into our home outside of Mpls, and have 2 bathrooms! One happens to be just a few feet from our bedroom!!!
~ We have also moved from tenting to camper-ing (I know this is not a word) – and we have running water and a flushing toilet!
~ Ah – but babies… so now – we regress again – to using our tent-friendly JUG in our camper bedroom when we need to wee in the wee-hours.

No one tells you that having kids disrupts the natural progression of life! No one warns you that you will soon revert back into patterns of behavior that you thought were long behind you.
But, I have to say, that peeing in the bedroom, into our beloved ‘jug’, is still worth those morning hugs and good-night kisses every day! Precious, amazing, smart, disruptive little people… I freakin’ love you!

TIP! Use those handy cleaning wipes for in-between-cleaning bathroom clean-ups. My favorite: Method Brand Non-toxic, earth friendly wipes - various scents.

A QUOTE: "Please write again soon. Though my own life is filled with activity, letters encourage momentary escape into others lives and I come back to my own with greater contentment." ~Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey 'A Woman of Independent Means'

WHIDFML: Peed without hesitation - in a toilet :) And, ate chocolate!

Beyond Every Hurdle, Lies.... Yet Another...

I’ve been SO spoiled! Both of my girls have always liked sleeping-in. They would wake together on average at about 8:30am! (I know – NICE. I shouldn’t even be bitching about the new change to that.) But – I wasn’t ready for this! The big-girl-bed has gone over surprisingly well… except that Myla now wakes before 7am! What the? Why??? The worst part is – she’s beyond exhausted. I’ve never witnessed such charcoal bags under the precious-moments eyes of a person so petite.

Okay – so I can handle the earlier hours (though this means I must start again to fight my night-owl instincts in the late-evening hours!! This family is determined to get me to appreciate mornings and leave the ‘night-life’ behind. It was nice while it lasted.) But – what to do about the obvious issue with her need for more sleep?? Not sure yet. I’ll have to figure it out. Perhaps a slightly earlier nap, and a slightly earlier bed-time?? We’ll give that a go. Until then, I have a

TIP! for tolerating my own lack of sleep :) Teavana. They have a fantastic mate’ that is much like a blend of a chocolate, coffee, and a tea concoction. It’s most delish, and really does wake you up! It’s better than coffee – I don’t get jitters – and I don’t have any kind of ‘crash’ later. I also am able to drift to sleep without a prob come night time. It’s SOOO marvelous! I highly recommend trying it. Here is the description in the Teavana catalog:
“Mate’ ‘Feel Good Tea’ Cardiovascular aid, mental & physical stimulant and hungar suppressant. Mate’ contains several different Xanthines besides caffeine. When blended, they create a different kind of energy, one that will not cause jitters.”

A QUOTE: "If writers stopped writing about what happened to them, then there would be a lot of empty pages." ~Elaine Liner

WHIDFML: Mended a few well-liked pieces of attire - to be worn again!

Going Out on a Limb

Seeing as our 3-year-old fights sleep at all costs, including the cost of our sanity at times, we figured we’d just keep her in a crib until we absolutely couldn’t do so any longer. Well, the cat figured a way out of her cage, and soon the kitty across the room wanted to try to mimic that move as well. So we had to put a stop to it quickly. Hence, it was time for the toddler bed.

TIP! When you can’t convince your child that dragons aren’t real, try to explain that they cannot get into their room/ house. When that fails, as it inevitably will, proceed by empowering the young one in any way you can think to. Did you know that dragons are scared if you roar at them like a lion?? The 4 of us practiced our most vicious roars. Now, in the jungle, the quiet jungle, the lion sleeps tonight. (A-wheema whop, a-wheema-whop, a-wheema-whop!) [insert dancing clip here!]

A QUOTE: "The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think."
~Edwin Schlossberg

WHIDFML: Connected with some old friends!

Who is This Crazy Chick Anyway?!

I suppose I should properly introduce myself! I’m Denise – I live in a small suburb outside of a major metropolis, with my husband Joel, and our (Irish twins) two charming daughters - Myla 3, and Addie 1-1/2 yrs. We have found our dream home and dream property – and to summarize, we are country folk stuck living in the city (we’d rather do this than be stuck commuting!) But we have located a parcel of land that most city-slickers only dream about discovering a mere 20 minutes from a downtown skyline. It’s rather pristine, and secluded, set upon an acre and a half – mostly wooded, with a babbling brook meandering through. It’s serene. It’s my chunk of the north woods within city limits. It’s my refuge, my sanctuary, and certainly one large chunk of reason as to how I’ve maintained my sanity. (I have my moments!)

My husband and I have been married for over 4 years, and have been together for 14 of those 4 ~ with one major break-up at roughly the half-way point. We’ve worked hard at keeping the lines of communication open wide (yet another cliché – but without honest & meaningful communication, what do you have in any relationship??) I feel much like my 1-1/2 year-old little girl when she tries to say a word (especially when it’s a new word to her) and I happen to understand her! That glee, that excitement, the glow of appreciation in her eyes. I can relate… as when I express something to Joel, and he addresses it as though it’s important (because he realizes now, that it IS to me!) – and seems to comprehend what I’ve just said! (This, after some years of feeling nearly ignored, is truly electrifying!)
We’ve put much effort into determining how we can really connect and team-up, rather than taking out our frustration on one-another, and ultimately pushing each other away. It’s taken years of ups & downs to get there – but I have to say, it continually gets better with each new MILESTONE!
TIP! KEEP DATING. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you no longer have a need to carve out time for one another. Movie nights at home/ dinner out and a concert/ a walk around a nearby lake/ biking/ fishing/ whatever you both enjoy! Just do it – alone together – regularly. You have to keep adding wood to the fire, or the fire eventually burns out.

Our little girls are another dream-turned-reality. While we adore them more than life & liberty, we also have come to learn that child-rearing isn’t all butterflies & rainbows. I guess I’ve always known that… but I still expected it to be a little bit ‘dreamier’ - if you will, than it seems on most days. The thing is – even the spilled milk, the crying over it, and the near-constant chaos that ensues in our household on a daily basis is worth it. For instance - those moments when they spontaneously hug you and tell you that you are their most favorite mommy ever – you find yourself wondering, “How could I ever become frustrated by this innocent, sweet child??” Then, they turn and bite their sibling, and you remember exactly HOW. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster, but when the ride slows down one day, I’m pretty sure we’ll throw our hands in the air and say – ‘again’! [Only this time – with grandkids – and less screaming!] :)

A QUOTE:"Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it's just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it." ~David Sedaris

WHIDFML: Put a lot of thought onto "paper" (the electronic variety) :)

Baby Steps

Here are a few of the mini-milestones that have brought me to this happier happy place. As my girls continue to grow, I continue to grow with them:

Whilst my 2 young daughters make their way through milestones of their own: first foods, talking, walking, riding a tricycle, going down the slide at the park…
I can accredit reaching many of my recent personal milestones to their further development – and my realization that taking care of me is important in taking GOOD care of them.

I’ve come a long way in the past 3 years from colic, acid reflux & raised crib mattresses, lactose, formula & breast-milk intolerances, sleep-fighting babes, a strong-willed-child, gluten issues, marital issues, and sleep-deprivation. (Not-so-clearly, some of these apply to the girls, others to me!) I’ve worked my way toward being rather well-balanced, well nourished, and well-rested.

This past spring, I realized that I could take the girls outside in the nice weather – and actually enjoy it. I was no longer dragging the youngest one out in the bouncer, only to have her crying for ‘freedom’ and inclusion 5 minutes into the outing, while running to rescue the older child before she trips and rolls herself down the cascading hillside in our backyard. They are now at a more even ‘stage’ in their development – both walking, with a desire to interact together and share in the same play – as well as having the ability to do so. THIS – was definitely a milestone. I felt like outdoor weather hadn’t arrived a day too soon! I needed some Vitamin D therapy – bad. As it turns out, so did the babes.

Once naps had become more ritualized and predictable, and both the girls were napping together regularly – I had an opportunity to help boost my small side-business as a wedding photographer. I put a lot of heart and soul into marketing myself online using all the free venues I could find, creating an edgy new website to portray my style with sizzle, and networked my way into online life! I was official – and getting out some of that pent-up, almost forgotten creative energy felt amazing!

More recently – I reinvented my personal style. I said to hell with these chicks who have ‘training’ in hair design. None of them had ever once actually produced the style of my describing – no matter how much I told them it didn’t have to even look professionally done. I’m an artist! I want to LOOK on the outside the way I’m FEELING on the inside. Just give me some whispy, piecey, artsy chops! Make it move, make it funky. How much more could I have said???? I gave up on that – and took matters into my own hands – literally! I took my scissors, and started chipping into the ends. Twirling strands here and there, making primarily vertical cuts… I haven’t EVER, in my life on this Earth, been this happy – TRULY happy - With my hair!!! (OMG I actually LIKE – no, wait a sec – LOVE it!!!) Not just settling anymore. Not just dealing… wavy-curly-frizzy-heavy-nasti-strands on my head. Not anymore! NOW – I’m REAL. It’s the me that’s been hiding behind this head of Cousin-It-hair for 3 decades! No experience necessary. Just will-power baby! Oh, the power of will-power. (And a little bit of risk!) I’ve learned that taking calculated risks is very healthy for the bod and soul.

Latterly but not leastly – I spent a baby-day (that’s “Denise” for 2-hour-nap), going through and trying on all of my clothes! I have an entire tub to get rid of… Either too big, too small, or too – well – NOT ME. I have a quirky no-style-style when it comes to clothing. Some days, I feel rather artsy. Some days, gothic. Still other days, it’s more about comfort. Always dependent upon my mood, I’m a little bit country - I’m a little bit rock & roll. I’m always me.

I re-organized all of my jewelry… dusted it, removed the tarnish [see TIP! Here: http://www.dragonfly-jewelry.com/blog/2006/05/remove-tarnish-without-using-toxic.html] I might just start wearing this again – now that I don’t have to worry about being beheaded by necklaces at the hands of small babes learning to utilize their grab-reflex. They have now progressed to “Pit-ty” (for Addie, 1-1/2), and “Oh, mama, I like your necklace. Can I see it?” (for Myla, 3.) And I am now onto – “Hey world – I’m BAAAAACK. Only even betta!”

These were gradual steps, small changes, and didn’t cost much other than some long-awaited-for time. Time well-spent!

TIP! Doing for you doesn’t have to be costly – even if shopping is your thing. Check out the local thrift stores, consignment stores, and garage sales. You’d be amazed at what you can find for a greatly reduced cost. Many Good Will stores offer color tag sales on various days of the week – you can save even more. Salvation Army, Good Will, & others will often have half-price days for various holidays (Labor Day, Memorial Day, etc). I can’t count the number of times I’ve found items with original tags/ packaging for a fraction of the cost. And – gently used items hardly appear used at all! Also a great way to recycle your no-longer-loved goods.
Also – check out Thrifty Home for lots of fun tips! http://www.thethriftyhome.com/

A QUOTE: "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." ~Cyril Connolly

WHIDFML: Bought some fab tops at a garage sale for $2 each piece!

"Drinkin' Outta Cups, Bein' a Bitch" - But Only When Completely Necessary!

I consider myself (and others tend to agree) an overall happy person. This obviously doesn’t mean that I don’t experience frustration, sadness, anger, uncertainty… But my style for overcoming these obstacles in life is by attacking them at the source. I do my best to communicate with God, my hubby, and anyone else involved (and yes, that includes talking to myself! HA!) I lean in closer to figure out what is causing said negative emotions… and then grab that shit by the throat! I try to recognize what needs changing. Then, I recognize what is change-A-BLE. (Very important step.) Take steps to move forward and incorporate changes where applicable, and accept that the issues that are out of my hands are in God’s – and that some good will come out of it in one way or another.

That touches base on my need to “let go”. I have learned to do this – but it took a lot of years and a lot of realizing that trying to control everything and prevent circumstances from “going bad” often actually attributes to just that. *Has taken me many more years to convince my husband of these truths!! Every now and again – I must remind him in two little words: “Drama Unnecessary.” Bitchy? Maybe. But it works for us. He realizes he’s freaking out without good reason, and I don’t have to truly whip out any claws…

A QUOTE: "Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own."   ~Carol Burnett

Why "Drinking out of cups" while also being a bitch? Funny story - one I can't take credit for!

For those of you who are interested, this is truly a funny vid that even my most anti-drug family members have laughed uncontrollably during. I myself am a bit of a  “good girl” when it has come to drugs. Never tried ‘em. But when it comes to witnessing it’s usage in this vid, all I have to say is: TSGS! (That’s Some Good Shit!)
Briefing: This guy was tripping on acid, and his friends locked him in a closet and video-taped his voice. They kept the voice recording as is, and applied a wickedly well done cartoon lizard to take on his persona. It’s totally fry, dude. Check it! (Warning – Language content not suitable for little ones.)

Balancing Act, Or is it More Like Juggling?

I require BALANCE. [2 kiddos, & 2 hands… zero coincidence!] I’ve worked hard for years at achieving balance, and I continue to work hard at maintaining it. I’ve always loved to write (and talk) – and do so in detail. This is the perfect venue for such ramblings… If it in some way offers a fun reprieve, or helps you too – then bonus! Let’s do this thang!

When things on the home-front develop into chaos - (well, more so than the norm) – I turn inward - - and now -- allow some of that to spill outward - - here! For me personally, this mommy-blogging thing is another one of those little treats I give to myself, to help me be better at ‘doing’ for others… It offers me an outlet. It’s kind of like an interactive diary. I get to reconnect with myself, and potentially offer comfort and ideas to other parents in the process. It enables me to re-evaluate my situation – seeking out the blessings, and giving it a lighter appeal. Happy mommy = happy family!!

TIP! Reflect on one positive thing that impacts your day for the better, every day.

I have thought, on many occasions, about how grateful I am to be a mom during this cyber-age – so that I can keep in better contact with ‘the outside world’ while raising the brood.

A QUOTE: "This is pretty much what journals are all about, at least to me. I knew as I wrote them that even though they provided an excellent place for brain (and heart, and psyche) dump, they were mainly a map of me."

Colleen Wainwright

WHIDFML: Picked out a new leather 'chain' ($2 at Michael's), to fix a necklace that I paid $1.50 for at a garage sale. Oh the irony!

It's Not Always All About You... Or is it?

Becoming a parent & constantly tending to the needs of others, doesn’t mean we cease to exist as an individual… we’ve merely been transformed. Compare it to the ever-cliché and yet ideally relevant butterfly-from-caterpillar revolution. Giving OF ourselves shouldn’t mean giving UP who we are…

I recall seeing a commercial on television (for a well-known line of inexpensive hair products - you've probably heard of it: Suave ladies - like steppin' out of salons), portraying varied examples of mothers and their young children. The voice-over dictated some statistics. “…x-percentage of new mothers ‘let themselves go’…” I had to LOL! Really? Seriously. Does a new mother have a choice in that matter??? I don’t think that it’s always so much a matter of ‘letting ourselves go’ as much as it is “can I please have a few minutes to urinate, toss my hair into something that looks somewhat intentional, and perhaps scarf down some left-overs from three days ago before you need to eat again, little darling??”

We love our babies. We all have that in common. Truthfully – many of us also share in some means of ‘letting ourselves go’. But, I’m speaking more metaphorically – in ways that far surpass how we physically present ourselves to the world. Ultimately – we need to remember that while our families/ children have now become our top priority, we can’t be any good to anyone else if we aren’t good to ourselves as well.

My blog highlights thoughts such as these, things I’ve learned so far, and will continue to learn. It will relay ideas, tips, exciting events, offering examples of how - through having children of my own - I too in many ways have been ‘re-born’…(or have taught myself how to be!) These are the Mommy Milestones that I experience through sharing my life with children (and a husband, and a dog, and family, and friends, and neighbors, owning a home, and running a business, and, and, and… you get the idea!)

A QUOTE: "Even in Literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often is has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

C.S. Lewis

WHIDFML: I've sipped wine to celebrate the embarking upon this new writing-blog-adventure! (While my kids are at Grandma & Grandpa's for the day!)