Archive for the ‘Outings’ Category

Me trying to feed Bella:

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Happy that I stopped trying:

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Max successfully feeding Bella:

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At the playground:


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I’ve been taking the kids to the park often, lately. I’m working on Max – trying to get him to stop fighting me when it is time to leave a place he is enjoying. This way, when I’m at the park – a place where there are actually not a lot of people – if I need to curse at him, no one will hear me. I’m still working out the kinks in my responses to anger therefore, every-now-and-then, I slip and say, I don’t care what you want to do, get in your fucking car seat. Of-course, he just says, no.

Then, I get another chance to reword my needs.





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Swing high. Swing low.

Man, I don’t know what it is, but lately I am really oscillating between loving and hating being a SAHM.

What that translates to is that more often than not I just love my little boy to pieces, liking every part of who he is, and feel incredibly lucky to witness his growth and development on a daily basis. Yet, sometimes… I really hate his behavior so much so… that I want to run away.

We had a pretty good week last week and even Friday at the library went smoothly… until we were leaving and Max ran out into the parking lot… not stopping when I screamed, “STOP RUNNING!”… until he heard me threaten to take away his dinosaurs… then as I was kneeling to talk with him about the dangers of running into a parking lot… my sling was cutting off Bella’s windpipe… and I didn’t realize it right away… and thank gawd she didn’t turn blue because that would have sent me over the edge… but then Max refused to get into his car seat… which he has done before and I have handled with exemplary patience… but by this point… I wanted to leave him with the library staff and drive home alone… so I found myself crazy and trying to force… no… bully… the kid into his car seat… the whole while he was doing everything the opposite of what I was telling him… and telling me “no”… and screaming… *sigh*… I was not a gentle mama and its only in hindsight that I can admit to handling the situation completely wrong… because in those moments I could have done much worse so justified my outrage and the way I dealt with it.

Yes, I was THAT woman in the parking lot with her kid that I used to judge harshly… before I had a toddler of my own.

Next time… I’ll just get into the driver’s seat, turn the air on, lock all the doors and let Max explore the car for ten minutes or so… and then I bet he will willingly climb into his seat for the drive home. Sometimes it is so freaking hard to let a kid be a kid. I mean, its not like I had to be anywhere at a certain time. And even if I did… so what. So I’ll be late.

Live and learn.

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Class Reunion. Poop on you.

Ah, my high school reunion. It was a mixture of change and stagnancy.

Superficially speaking, the women from Palmetto age much more gracefully than the men.

Analytically speaking, some people never really grow much after a certain age. Weird.

The gig was at a country club in Palmetto (hahaha, who would’ah thought PALmetto had one of those???!). And despite the dress request of “country club attire,” many of those good ol’ boys just won’t leave their home in anything but a pair of Wranglers and a Stetson cowboy hat. Yes, this is the town I grew up in. Small town folks. Rednecks. Racists. Bigots. Homophobes. Misogynists. And people who scoff at smart folks.

The sight of men in blue jeans (and a couple of accompanying women) actually worked in my favor because compared to most of the women there, I was underdressed. Comfortable, yet under dressed in my vintage gray men’s dress slacks, “nice” fitted yellow T-shirt, and coolest pair of olive green shoes I’ve ever owned. These shoes have history.

My clothes and tattoos were my shield in a way. At least that is how I felt. The only person outside my table of “today-friends” who I reconnected with was a women who in high school was lovingly dubbed with the nickname, “Weirdo.” Her husband was really cool, too. So fitting! We hung out and talked, she showed me pictures of her beautiful kids and we tore it up a little on the dance floor.

Naturally, being surrounded by old class mates reminded me of high school. I can’t really fault people for grouping into the same clicks they were in during those four years of hell because, well, that is what a class reunion is for: reconnecting with old friends. However, a lot of the feelings I experienced in high school that, for all intensive purposes left me with age, showed up for a quick visit. Feelings of being marginalized, awkward but liked, and a little insecure.

I couldn’t get drunk enough to actually talk with anyone because in my mind, they probably wouldn’t be interesting to me, anyway. Yes. I’m an intellectual snob like that. Heh, without any reason to be.

In high school I talked all the time, just not about anything real. It was all shits and giggles and now as an adult, I’m all about “real” conversations. Anyone who knows me knows I have a really hard time with BS conversations. AKA: small talk. Some of the people that I would have liked to sit and talk with were busy reminiscing the past with their other old friends. I found myself sitting with the few people I know from high school who I still have love for. People who I speak with as the person I am now – not then. I hate getting together with an old friend and reminiscing about our history without getting to know who that person is today.

In high school I was one of those people I’ll refer to as a “social floater.” I was well liked by every other female, ignored by every male unless we were joking around or he wanted to talk to me about his girlfriend or one of my friends that he wanted to hook up with (I’ve always been the ugly friend), but in general I got along with everyone. During the reunion those feelings of being a social floater with no grounding in one particular group came back. My friends are the outcasts who every one likes but no one knows. Just like me.

Today, I realized my moments of social awkwardness during the reunion had more (if not everything) to do with the fact that I was tipsy on wine. I’m not use to feeling buzzed. It didn’t have the same affect on me that it would have if I was a weekend wine drinker, or something. Normally, at least in recent times, I have been tipsy or drunk in the company of close friends, family, or just my hubby. That has happened, like twice this year. I am a sober person all the time… Anyway, I’m thinking about this too much. You get the point. The wine didn’t loosen me up like it would have under more familiar circumstances.

I’m glad I went. And it felt even better to leave. When I woke up Sunday morning with my little girl smiling her big morning smile as she coo’d, “I love you mommy,” into my eyes, I felt such inner peace. As I crawled into Max’s bed to hang out with my sleepy husband and little boy before we started our morning rituals, I felt in my skin.

My naturally neurotic mind wants to over-analyze the sights and sounds of that crazy night but really… it is what it is…

And let me tell you, I am glad it is over. There were so many different things that offended me about the event. The e-mail assuming that we were ALL either married, with kids, or with a mortgage. Because you know, NO ONE from Palmetto could possibly be gay, single, without kids, or a free spirit who doesn’t want to buy a house! Or what about the condescending e-mail telling everyone that “country club attire is REQUIRED,” and that we shouldn’t be so stupid as to wear “shorts and T-shirts.” Gah. Or, how about being bullied into sitting down before dinner and then having some pastor guy TELLING everyone to “bow your heads and be quite” because it was time to pray. What. The. Fuck. I know, right… because EVERYONE from Palmetto MUST be Christian. Or, at least a Christian who thinks it is appropriate to be SLOSHED and pray for “forgiveness for our sins” at the same time. If I hadn’t been in such a state of shock at the inappropriateness of a prayer to Jesus at a class reunion, I would have had my wits about me, gotten up and made a bee-line to the buffet. I hate this town.

Damn, that ended sourly.

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This post is about Saturday.

Breakfast: banana
Lunch: hummus, corn chips, white pita bread, carrots, green bell peppers, rich delicious chocolate cake
Dinner: two sandwiches made with millet (gluten-free) bread with hummus, salad mix (a variety of veggies), and avocado
Snack: home made French fries

I cheated big time today. Living wheat-free is tougher than living without soy or dairy. I had no idea! I ate several slices of pita bread before it even dawned on me that I was eating wheat. Then the birthday chocolate cake, oh my, I couldn’t pass up that home made (scratch, baby – not from the box) goodness. Max loved it, too. Good choice of birthday cake, Banyan!

We are really poor right now so we can not afford to by Max’s friends birthday gifts. However, I don’t like to arrive without baring a gift of some sort. I like teaching Max these kinds of generous giving traditions. I also like teaching him that gifts don’t have to cost money. We made his friend, Owen, a robot bank and when it came time for me to think about what we should get (or do) for Banyan’s birthday, I let Max decide.

I got down on my knees, looked into Max’s eyes and explained to him that today is a very special day. Today is the day that Banyan was born! And we are going to celebrate his birthday, today! Now, we can’t afford to buy a gift for him, but mommy thinks that you can pick out a gift for him yourself. Would you like to give Banyan one of your toys?

Uh huh. He said with his eyes wide open and mouth forming that little smile it often bares.

Okay then, that would be very nice! Go into your room and pick out a toy for Banyan. I was anxious to see what he would pick. I expected him to find a toy that he isn’t too fond of and wouldn’t mind parting with. Project much, Michelle?

Max picked out three dinosaurs. His dinosaurs are his FAVORITE toys. I know this because he tells me all the time. I went over with him how he would be giving these toys to Banyan and that we would no longer have them in our home. I did this without trying to push him into the opposite direction of his choice. He told me each time that he was okay with giving these toys to Banyan. We decorated the wrapping paper and wrapped the gifts together. He was very excited.

As we were leaving the house Max was poking around my stuff and then said to me, “You got the dinosaurs, mommy?”

“Oh my!” I said, “I left them upstairs! Thank you for reminding me, Max, good memory!”

He has shown no signs of missing those dinosaurs. And they were really cool dinosaurs, too. I am so proud of him for being so genuinely generous.

*edit* He did ask about those dinosaurs, today, but was content when I reminded him of where they were. Oh, and I also let him know that he will eventually get new dinosaurs.

Banyan’s birthday part was awesome. It was held at Red Bug Slough. The kids played on the playground and we all went hiking through the woods on a bug hunt. I had a moment where I was like, “Oh my god! I am out alone with both of my kids AND keeping track of them! I CAN do this!” It was great. Though, I wasn’t really alone. I had all my sister friends there helping me.

There are no bugs in here, yet, but a really nice miniature (temporary) home for some lucky bug:

Max refers to that stick in there as “my poop.” All Liz had to do was point out that it looked like poop and he was all over THAT joke.

After the party, we were so close to Liz’s house that I couldn’t pass up a quick visit. Max loves Liz, too. We were there for a short while when Max abruptly cut the visit short. He was playing with Liz’s cat’s strawberry kitty cozy (not the exact one in the link but something similar) – putting it on his head for laughs and such. Ten minutes later, viola! Max is scratching his face and eyes while simultaneously puffing up like a red strawberry himself. He is allergic to cats! Well, not too surprised, so is his papa.

He cleared up within minutes of getting back into the car for the drive over to his Lola’s house. Once we got to my MIL’s, I gave Max a bath and spent about 1 ½ hours just hanging with the in-laws. MIL was very happy to see Bella’s skin healed. We talked and laughed and she doled out our share of the vegetables she bought for us from the flea market. As I was getting ready to leave she slapped a bill into my hand and said, “the lotion works, its worth the money.” She told me earlier that she would help pay for Bella’s lotion which cost close to 50 bucks ($130 if we didn’t have insurance that helped pay for $90 of it). I thanked her and then looked at the bill. She gave us $100! I looked at Grandma with tears starting to form (I get emotional when people are surprisingly generous) and thanked Grandma, too. Grandma said, “We love you, Michelle, and we really want to help you guys out however we can.”

Wow. I feel like I can be pretty petty sometimes. Yes, its understandable considering all that has been on my plate this year. But damn, I think I learned that being petty – even in the face of difficult times – really is not worth my energy.

I drove home with Bella in the back, the groceries in the front, and 100 bucks in my pocket that would help pay for the things our family needs.

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Party Party

Bella woke up around 2:30 am, Saturday morning, and kept Hal and I awake until around 4:30 am. Hal had to get up at 5 am to set up for a Bike Rodeo he organized at the library. To top it off, he had minimal help because the county budget cuts forced a county wide hiring-freeze. Poor Papa, he had a tiresome Saturday.

I, on the other hand, got to sleep in until almost 9 am! Max went to bed pretty late Friday night and Bella’s interrupted sleep (thanx to teething) worked in my favor. Like my mama always says, there’s a first time for everything! After crawling out of bed, soar but rested, I drank my morning cup of joe and started making Max’s friend, Owen, his birthday gift (a robot bank). Max loves making things – a love I should jump on and play up – so the process of making this robot bank was pretty fun. The party was from 2-4pm, which I thought was a really short party.

I gave myself all morning to get ready for this party. Making Owen’s gift took a toll on my hands so everything I did thereafter needed to be done with thought and very slowly. I was pleased when my kids and I were ready to leave the house with ample time to pick Hal up from work and stop at the health food store. We arrived at Owen’s with ten minutes to spare. Oh yeah… on time!

My friend Tonya, Owen’s mom, is an amazing hostess. The food spread was already set up and she was looking beautiful and glowy, like pregnant women tend to look. I, being a fabulous guest, wasted no time making my way to the food table and loading up a plate. Max immediately went into play-mode and ran off while Hal held Bella and ate a plate of food I put together for him.

Oh yeah, dinosaurs!

People I hadn’t seen in a while started to arrive and the crowd thickened with kids and laughter. As I was talking to another friend with two young children, commiserating and relating, I felt at ease and as usual – so happy to have made it out of my house.

There were a lot of second-time pregnant women there. And for the first time, I felt no envy of their beautiful round bellies. Thank God! It feels good to know our family is complete. I imagine that no matter how many children you want, the finality of knowing you are done is comforting. At least until the kidos are older and babies start looking sweet as pie, again. But I digress…

If you know me and actually read this blog you will come to see that I speak of my life very much the same as I write about it. Well, I was talking to a woman I had not seen in a long time who has a two year old and is pregnant with her second. I was in the groove of sharing my experiences with two kids when she looked at me in a familiar way (read: in a, you are giving me too much information, kind of way) and abruptly, with a smile and hands up in the air, said, “I don’t want to know what it is going to be like!” It wasn’t offensive, actually, her tone was humorous and made me laugh. However, in that moment I realized I had become THAT woman. You know, THAT woman who tells horror stories of her labor to a first time pregnant mom except, I was telling of how difficult it had been to adjust to two children! Well, after we had a quick laugh at her gently drawn, very clear, boundary I said, “you know, you will be fine! Everyone has a different experience and everyone does adjust.” A weak save at best.

It’s hard to be flowery and fluffy when you are in the thick of it. Actually, I’m just now ascending out of “the thick of it” and starting to feel (and apparently look – I got a lot of compliments) human again. And when I say “human” what I really mean is, happy and social.

So next time someone wants to talk to me about what it is like adjusting to two kids, I am going to first ask, “do you want the good, or the not-so-good of it?” Before I answer.

I also have to remind others that parenting two has been difficult for me in much different ways because I have physical limitations. Dealing with pain on top of caring for a toddler and a newborn creates a special set of physical, emotional and mental challenges.

As we made the rounds to say bye to all our friends I thought to myself, “geeze, a two hour party feels like an all-nighter with this many kids running around.” I was exhausted. Max’s 3rd birthday party will be scheduled for only two hours.

This coming Saturday is Max’s bestest bud’s b-day party. Banyan! Max is always saying stuff like, “I poop on the potty like a big-boy. Like Banyan!” Or he’ll ask me, “We going to Banyan’s house?” So cute. I love how he can name all his friends when I ask him… Banyan, Iris, Jack, Owen, June-Bug, Nessy, Mommy, Daddy, & Banyan!

Quick MIL update:

We made up. No apologizing was to be had (that’s okay) but we are on good terms again. She actually made the effort to tell me that “no matter what arguments I get into with my kids, they know they can always come over.” And, “I didn’t know you guys were living on one paycheck! I am going to buy your groceries every week. Make me a list!”

So yeah, she’s on my good side again. This doesn’t mean I can ignore placing boundaries up for her, but it means we’re getting along again. And this is how our relationship has been functioning for as long as I’ve known her.

This was Hal for most of the party. Bella is so chill in his arms:

There was one other baby there – a beautiful, beautiful baby – her skin was so soft and clear. It made me sad because I want my beautiful, beautiful baby girl to have that soft baby skin that everyone wants to touch. I felt like people were afraid to touch her because of her skin. Writing it out, now, makes me feel like crying.

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I took Bella in to see her pediatrician on Monday for her eczema. When Dr. Blanco, a warm mature woman of Cuban decent, entered the tiny room we were waiting in, I burst into tears.

My little girl is suffering and nothing I am doing is helping her heal. I choked out between sobs.

Blanco knows me as one of her mamas who only comes in for a sick visit when my kids are really sick. This means that both my kids have had only one “sick” visit and both of them went in for eczema. Anyway, not trying to brag about how little my kids go to the doctors, just noting that I’m not the worrying kind of mama. This eczema problem has reached a level of serious.

My stomach is in knots.

Blanco prescribed a new lotion that can be used as often as needed. It is not a steroid. It seems to be helping to keep her skin hydrated (still a little flaky but not as bad), but the eczema hasn’t gone away. We are taking her to an allergist next Wednesday. I’m skeptical about how much an allergist can actually help but we are desperate which = willing to try anything. I’ve given up eating soy, dairy, and eggs. I’ve even ordered creams off the internet with no luck.

I know this is shitty but… I keep saying stuff like, “if Bella’s skin clears up tomorrow, I’ll believe in you, God.” Crappy, I know. But like I said, I’m desperate. I’m also dead serious because a part of me really wants to believe.

Bella’s suffering brings me to my MIL update. I’m going to make this brief because lord knows I can be long winded about her. We are not speaking right now by my choice. I immaturely hung up on her while she was in mid-sentence repeating a criticism she has been singing for over a month now, “you are not doing everything you can be doing to help Bella.” A judgment that Blanco assured me is not true.

MIL’s other recent criticism had to do with Oscar – you know, how she has never put one of her dogs down. They have all died in her arms. Well, I got fed up with her judgments of Hal and me and am taking a break from her bull-shit. I’m too vulnerable right now to allow such an insensitive and judgmental person to speak so freely to me. The irony of her bull-shit babble is she knows nothing about eczema or pug encephalitis. Yet, she would do so much more than me to make things better for my suffering love ones. Blah.

Oh my gosh… moving on now… I totally forgot to record that I ACTUALLY LEFT THE HOUSE WITH BOTH KIDS last Saturday! We went to the store for Hal’s father’s day gift. They were well behaved and the outing was inspiring to do it again.

A friend sent me this link…

The Spoon Theory

It very accurately describes what living with rheumatoid arthritis is like. It’s a long read but worth it if someone you love has a disease that you “can’t see.”

I really hope that my sweet babies don’t get RA.

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And then I have days like today when I’m reminded of what I love in my life and why:

Oh, and I almost forgot to include this adorable shot… Nature Boy:

When ya gotta go… ya gotta go.

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Hal took today off from work so he could go with Bella, Max, and I to a fire station tour with 20 other parents (mostly moms) and their kids. One of my friends, Michelle, organized the outing. She’s pretty cool like that. Every Friday, she gets all the “library mamas” together for an outing. The regular Friday library function goes on a break during the summer months so Michelle took it upon herself to keep the group together and active. I think a trip to Mote Marine will probably be in the mix sometime next month, too.

After the fire house we (my family) went to Tijuana Flats for lunch. Now, we are home and just hanging out around the house. Hal and I got some house work out of the way right away so we could chill for the rest of the day. I’m on the computer, Bella’s sleeping in her crib, Max, Hal, and the dogs are out on the porch. The sliding glass door is open, rain is drizzling, and a cool breeze is circulating through the house.

Hal and I are trying to “enjoy” Max in all his glorious 2 year old ways. He is NOT organizationally compliant. That kid is blazing his own path. Bella on the other hand… she (thus far) seems to be a very laid back/go with the flow kinda gal.

Max and Michelle (who looks high on oxygen):

This is how Bella looked the entire day… except when she was sleeping or laughing:

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Hal and I have been talking (again) about selling our home. We’d like to move closer to Sarasota, which is where all of our friends live. This recent incident with Oscar has made it glaringly clear to me (us) that we need to be closer to those who are most supportive/loving/caring towards our little family. As it stands now, we live 30 minutes away from those people. Thirty minutes too far away.

Today has been a really pleasant day. I had to take Bella to the birthing home to have her hearing tested (a new test that is given to all newborns – she’s taking it about four months late but hey, better late than never). While Bella and I were in the birthing home Hal and Max waited in the car, Max fast asleep. During the test I talked with a first-time expectant father whose wife was in early labor. I love the whole act of talking about babies, birthing, breastfeeding, and just everything associated with becoming a parent. In the amount of time I spent waiting for Bella (about 10 minutes) my desires to become a doula were reinforced. It is a great feeling to still be connected to that dream and to know it is likely to happen some day.

We stopped by Whole Foods on our way home to have lunch and so I could pick up some diaper rash cream for Bella. I knew it was a long shot, but before we left the house I called and left a message on Liz’s answering machine inviting her to have lunch with us in an hour. It was a wonderful surprise to hear Hal say, “Hey, there’s Liz!” We did our shopping and had a nice lunch. Hal and Max had pizza, Liz had some tofu jerky, and I had bread and a loaded-with-goodness salad. We stayed for as long as Bossman was able to sit compliantly then said our good-byes until next time. Bella is amazingly “well behaved,” she contently sat in her car seat the entire time – something Max would have NEVER allowed. Their personalities are already so different. It’s only now that I realize that Max was a bit on the “high-need” side of the spectrum while Bella is the more laid back sort of personality. I always considered Max to be an “easy” baby because all I had to do was nurse him and he was content. Bella, on the other hand, is content just hanging out.

Oscar is improving a little every day. It looks like he got instant cataracts because of the seizure. His walking is a bit wobbly still and he paces around the house more than usual before finding a space to plop down, but he is improving. Oh, we also haven’t heard him bark, yet – not such a bad thing in our book.

I’m happy to have another chance to be a more loving pet owner. I feel like there was some definite improvement needed in that area of my life. As they say, done and done.

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Proof (to myself when I’m feeling blue) that there is “life after kids.”

There were lots of parents at the party, just none with a new baby. So, ya know what that means… every woman there wanted to hold Bella! After Bella got settled, ate, and napped she was passed around long enough for me to feel like I had a nice break. I talked with old friends, new people, and ate delicious vegan fare. Let me tell you, the food was awesome but… a vegan BBQ potluck is probably the only kind of food party one can leave still feeling hungry. Everything just digested so fast!

This was the first time just me and my girl went out and about. I’m so excited to have a little girl!

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