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Friday, September 30, 2016

Hanna Andersson @ the Domain Grand Opening!

This weekend, Hanna Andersson is opening at The Domain.They're having specials all weekend, like buy one/get one free pajamas and 30% off of everything else. And Saturday and Sunday, they're giving out $20 gift cards to the first 100 customers. Today, though, they were giving away a free pair of long johns to the first 500 customers, and I wanted to jump on that (and the pjs!).

So I got to The Domain (about 400,000,000 miles from where I live, and thank goodness James watched Mal, because he would not have tolerated this at all) a bit after 9:30, parked, and was able to find the store easily, thanks to Waze. Everyone in line around me said that their GPS didn't do that, and they were super jealous of how cool and functional I am. Oh, speaking of the line...

Is that Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous?!
I was about the 50th adult person in line, so, yay! Apparently other stuff was opening at The Domain today, too, including Nordstrom. THEIR line was crazars compared to this one. The mall had some special stuff going on, I guess, like face painting and balloons. I didn't see any of that because I knew where to park close in (thanks to Waze!) and didn't have to walk half way across the complex like my new friends did.

But one cool thing I got to see was foam airplanes.

Say what?

This. There was a machine (according to the grandma behind me, who would not lie about this sort of thing) that was pumping out these soap bubble airplanes, that would then climb and spiral and soar until, I guess, they just dissolved.

Do you see them all? I want one of these things! I probably won't get one, but you know what I did get? FREE LONG JOHNS!

90 cm long johns! James showed this picture to Mal while I was out, but Mal was playing coy by not acting interested.

They started letting people in about 10 'till, and they didn't allow it to be a total free-for-all, so only a few dozen people got in at once. Still, I was in the door around 10:20 or so. 

Hanna Andersson has such cute clothes, but I'm way too cheap to shop there for full price. Still, it was tempting to grab one of everything and just go for it. Girls clothes, too. I think my very progressive son would like a Grinch tutu for when he's feeling festive and pretty and just a little bit sassy.

After perusing the store (and getting very gracious help from one of the employees manning the room), I headed back outside to... wait in line. Yes, to check out.

This line actually moved much, MUCH more slowly than the line to get in (which kept growing, as you can see the people standing on the opposite side of the doorway, waiting to enter the store for the first time). The lady in front of me had a long-suffering baby. The lady in front of her had an increasingly fussy 2-ish-year-old in the backpack and she eventually bailed. The lady in front of HER was my grandma friend from the pre-entry, and she had to take off because they were going with their daughter's family to ride Thomas the Train in Burnet and there was no way she was going to get checked out in time.

I was probably in this line for a good 45 minutes, texting my husband "thank you thank you thank you!" a time or two. As I approached the doorway, I saw a mom coming out with her two kids, and she was thanking THEM for being so great and patient, saying, "We just have to wait in one more line, then we can go do the face painting and get cookies and do whatever you guys want, because I appreciate you so much!" I didn't say anything, but she was making it sound like they were almost done, and they were not. Still, good on her for a) having such chill kids, and 2) recognizing that she had it good.

There were obviously lots of moms with kids there, some tolerating the heat (only in front of the store; it was a nice morning, but we were in direct sun with reflective windows, so it was roasting) and boredom better than others. I would have left at this point had I had my 2-year-old with me. Free PJs, yay! But that would have been enough for him (and me, with him). However, once I stepped inside the door (I could see the registers!), a mom came in with FOUR KIDS in tow. The oldest was maybe 5, and the youngest barely born. Brave lady.

At some point, someone decided it'd be smart to go ahead and have us take our clothes off of the hangers instead of waiting for the cashiers to do it. Genius!

While I was waiting in the line, I saw the perfect little gloves and hat for Mal, so glad I had a while to stand there and look around.

OMG, I'm almost there!!
I hadn't paid too much attention to what I was buying, trying to get a minimum because Mal doesn't need a lot, but also trying to take advantage of really good sales. I was momentarily shocked when the cashier told me the total, but when I got home, I added up the regular retail for all of it, and I had saved just over $200!

So, what'd I get?

First the PJs. *squee!*

I didn't get him a tutu, but I did get him Wonder Woman pjs. If it makes you feel better, they were in the boys' section.

I also picked up a couple of pair of sweats because they are comfortable but look nice enough to pass for slacks, and a shirt that had a Space Shuttle on it, because Space Shuttle (I think that makes 2 or 3 he'll have this winter; does the SS count as retro yet?).

Finally, my favorite: The outerwear. I liked several of their coats, but in Austin, it rarely gets "coat cold." So I just got him a fleece-lined hoodie. Last year, his monster zip-up was adorable, and I'm glad he gets to enjoy another one!

It's a Sasquatch! And look at those gloves!

So that was my adventure for the day.

Or so I thought until I got home and then most of my family went out for lunch, then the transmission in my van started working only intermittently on the way home.

We've spent the rest of the day focusing on sales of a different kind: Auto sales. Good times.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Thing I Thought

For my own mental health and yours, I've been trying to avoid all political stuff on social media. I have read so many articles that I've really loved, and haven't shared any of them, because I don't define my life by politics, and I don't want to cause stress between friends. So hopefully you'll see this more as I mean it, which is a couple of comments on the human condition.

I'm not endorsing a candidate. I think that the choice for whom to vote, or whether to vote at all, is deeply personal, and I respect it for every individual. I have friends who feel like voting supports tyranny (explained here). I have friends who will be voting for third party candidates for President in 2016. And I have friends who will be voting for either of the "major" party candidates. No one needs my opinion or instructions.

So please don't message me to try to pull me to a specific side, because I make my decisions with the same autonomy you do, and I hope we can all joyfully and lovingly respect that.

That said: There was only one point in the first Presidential Debate last night that felt "sacred" to me. I loved it. It was when Lester Holt asked Hillary Clinton, "Do you believe that police are implicitly biased against black people?" Her answer: "Lester, I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just the police. I think, unfortunately, too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other...."

My jaw literally dropped and I looked at my husband and said, "That was brilliant."

She then went on to explain that we need to slow down and ask why we're feeling certain ways, but that the repercussions of this in relationship to police force are huge and need to be addressed. She described "support" and "training" and "assistance" for police.

I felt the answer showed realism, empathy, and basically positivity in an otherwise loud, brash, difficult debate. I fully expected to wake up to lavish praise of Secretary Clinton for this eloquent response.

Instead, it was: "Hillary Clinton calls the whole US racist!"

What? She didn't say that at all. She said we all have implicit biases, and anyone who would say, "No I don't" is either in denial or is Jesus. Just today, I made a mental judgment about a person in a situation at a store that was based on nothing but what I guessed to be their socio-economic situation. It was a snap thought, and I'm embarrassed by it, AND I was wrong, but we do this.

She said nothing that was accusatory or mean-spirited, and I am just shocked that anyone could see her addressing of this extremely difficult, tragic situation as anything other than well-stated.

Okay, we're half way through.

The second thing is that apparently Donald Trump mentioned after the debate at some point that he hadn't brought up Monica Lewinsky because Chelsea Clinton, whom he admires, was in the room. Well, I guess it's good that she doesn't have the internet, because now she'll never know.

First of all, if you haven't watched Lewinsky's TED Talk, it's completely worth your time. I'll even embed it, so you don't have to click through.

We could go on for hours about how many stupid things I and my friends did in our 20s and we can all thank God none of these involved the President and therefore became public fodder. Holy cow.

But, anyway, she's not the point here.

The point here is that I guess he was going to bring Lewinsky up to talk about Hillary Clinton's feminist take on the world, and how did this situation fit into that, since the President took advantage of his power (and, if you listen to her, she doesn't seem to feel victimized by anything other than her own naivety). Regardless, Hillary Clinton didn't, you know, actually DO anything to Lewinsky, besides maybe calling her crazy, and I think she'd agree she was acting like someone in limerence, and that's basically crazy. If someone were trying to make time with my husband, I'd probably have even choicer words. Even if he were complicit. Your tendency is to be mad at the person you don't love and live with first.

And that's not the point, either.

My point is that I'm going to tell you what I'd like to see Hillary Clinton say if the former President's past "indiscretions" do come up in the future...

"Mr. Trump has repeatedly brought up my husband's activities as President, as though these define me and my future Presidency. I hope we all recognize that, as dear as the former President Clinton is to me, we are not the same person.

"It is an interesting choice to bring up a situation that is devastating to families who experience it in private, and much more so when it is played out in front of the entire world. It is interesting to me because it happened twenty years ago, and because I did not perpetrate anything on anyone in respect to it.

"My guess is that the only thought you've ever given to this situation is either, as many people did, as a joke worthy of every SNL skit it generated, or, in this immediate case, how to leverage it to your political advantage.

"In my opinion, leveraging a family's pain to your own advantage is deplorable, but since you insist, let me tell you what I hope everyone will take away from this about me.

"First: I keep my promises. When I say I'll do something, I will. Not just when it's easy or fun. I will do it. When trouble rears up, and when things look hopeless, I won't throw my hands up, call 'bankruptcy!' and run away to start over. I will do what I say I will do.

"Second: I am willing to make decisions that are for the good of the people I love, my family, and this country, and stay with it. I am not afraid to do the work. I do not shrink back from something that is hard, but will doggedly pursue an end once I have committed to it.

"As a wife, I had some heavy decisions to make twenty years ago. I knew the world was watching, and I knew I'd be vilified by one group or another regardless of what I chose. But I didn't need people praising me and telling me how amazing I was; I just needed to do what was best for our family. Now, I can tell you that we are a better, stronger family than we ever were before.

"I believe that these things can translate on a national and global stage. When faced with difficulties, I make decisions, I navigate, I work, and I want to see us better down the road that we nave ever been before. I have hope and faith in us and what we can become.

"So thank you, for whatever reason you brought this up, for reminding me and for reminding all of us."





P.S. This isn't divorce-shaming Trump; I have been married and divorced exactly as many times as he has. And it's one reason I feel so much respect for what this "I'm not sitting here, some little woman just standing by her man" lady ended up doing.

P.P.S. Also, like Trump, I married a devastatingly sexy super-model-type this time around, and had a kid when I was just a little past my prime.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Making Some Fun Out of Misery (First World Problems)

This is truly going to be one of the most boring posts ever, about a topic I hate, but I did want to note some kind of fun stuff just by way of saying "I love the future."

If you've been riding along with us for any amount of time, you know that I dabbled in an eating disorder for a few years in the early 1990s. Well, I'm hardly to blame if you consider what "healthy weight loss" looked like back then. That was the "all fat is evil; just eliminate it" decade, and all of the super sugary, gross fakey "fat free" stuff (remember Olsetra poop-your-pants chips? I think Pringles still makes them, but they're the only ones). Entenmann's had a whole line of fat free breakfast snacks. I had a book called "Butter Busters" that had all sorts of crappy food you could make with non-melting cheese look-alike and using a powdered butter substitute that, when reconstituted, didn't resemble butter in flavor at all.

Actually, though, I *am* to blame for a lot of the choices I made. I lived in an apartment complex that shared a driveway with a gas station, and I can't tell you how many bags of jelly beans and candy corn I bought there, feeling great about getting to eat sweets... that were FAT FREE!

Anyhoo, all of that to say that today, there are so many products on the market that are trying to punch up treats to make them more healthy, while still tasting good and not sacrificing a real-food quality for managing to shovel candy and baked goods into people desperate for a fix.

Now, obviously, I eat mostly "real" food: fruits, vegetables, lean meats, beans and lentils, that sort of thing. I also make room for pizza and french fries. And butter. I actually feel GOOD about butter now. I love it so.

I'm not actually on any kind of eating system that restricts anything. I'm just doing the "you burn 1800ish calories a day, so only eat 1550 or less" thing and keeping track. And I hate it. I mean, I'm not as hungry as I was the first three weeks, but I hate that I have to think about this at all. I have a very thin line I can walk between obsessing over it and just not thinking about it at all. It's a balance I resent having to keep so stringently, because, honestly, I almost couldn't care less. Except for those darn pictures.

And this weekend, I got a little encouragement. We had a party for Mal's second birthday, and I wandered into a bunch of pictures and videos. I didn't cringe about any of them. So I know I'm on the right track. I'll know when I'm done and can switch over into the maintenance portion of life, but by then, I'll probably be about in the 1500 calorie range for my basic metabolic rate. Yee haw.

All of this because I wanted to share some fun discoveries I've made. And, to be indelicate, if we didn't have a bit of disposable income, these "toys" would not be in reach. This might be the case once we buy a house, so I'm going to really enjoy this stuff. And stock up when there are sales.

1. Arctic Zero. Okay, I probably won't stock upon these, because freezer burn is no one's friend. Neither is moving frozen items to another residence. However, these are ice-cream-ish pints that have 35-75 calories per "serving," or 150-300 calories per pint (a real serving).

These are lactose-free, being made with whey protein and not the whole milk. They have pure cane sugar, but are sweetened also with monk fruit, which allegedly has antioxidants. Anyway, I'm no nutritionist, but the ingredients aren't jibberish so that feels right.

These have to be left at room temperature for 15 minutes or so or they're hard as a rock. Once they soften, though, they have the very creamy feel of ice cream. No chunky flakes. It's not as rich as ice cream, but it is pleasurable to eat, and the amount of time you spend putting away a whole pint makes it feel like you've really eaten something.

I had three of these, one a day for three days in a row, and I enjoyed them all: cookie shake, chocolate peanut butter, and salted caramel. The flavors were extremely subtle. I realized when I ate a fourth pint a few days later (vanilla maple) that there is a consistent taste that runs through all of them that I can't identify, but it made me decide that these are probably best saved as a treat to have every couple of weeks... Not to mention that they run about $5 a pint, so that can get expensive fast.

You can order from their website, but because they have to be shipped with dry ice, it brings the price per pint up to $6.50. Find them at Central Market, Whole Foods, HEB, Sprouts, and anywhere you're directed from their website.

I see that they have chocolate-covered bars. That's very interesting to me, so I will probably head over to Sprouts on Wednesday (which is their "both sales circulars" day).

2. Lenny and Larry's Complete Cookie Especially if you're someone who likes to have Pop-Tarts for breakfast, pay attention!

These big honking cookies have about the same caloric content of 2 Pop Tarts (400ish), but a whole cookie (which is 2 "servings," but let's get real) has 16 grams of protein, or four times what you'd get with Pop Tarts, so you'll feel full longer and have more sustained energy versus just a sugar rush.

Now I'm going to tell you something I noticed AFTER I'd eaten one of these cookies: They're stinking vegan. VEGAN. No dairy. No eggs. But the cookies are soft and homey-tasting. How did they do it?! I don't know. I'm just glad I didn't realize that until after I'd eaten one, because I might not have tried. Well, I might have. I'm a sucker for packaging, and look how fun these are.

Oh, also, the cookies are non-GMO (if that's important to you; I'm kind of meh about the whole thing), they have no soy, and they have about 8 grams of fiber per cookie.

I'll clear room for a pretty big afternoon snack for one of these. Especially since my husband doesn't get home from work until 8 or later some nights; I need help waiting for him to eat dinner!

You can order on their website, where the cookies average just over $2 each. That's about what they are in the store, except that right this moment, the HEB on Escarpment and Slaughter in Austin happens to have them on display up front for $1.50. I haven't seen their muscle brownies or muffins, but I'm going to order those for sure.

(While researching this, I found this recipe, which I plan to try. If I see I can make these more cheaply than I can buy them and they taste as good. Plus, apparently, they're BIGGER. Hello!)

3. GoPicnic "meals"

I've mentioned these before. They're like Lunchables, kind of, except they're shelf-stable (nonperishable, no need for refrigeration) and many are gluten free (I think all of the ones in the picture are) or lower fat, etc. They are "balanced" in that there is a good amount of protein, and they manage to sneak fruits and/or veggies into every meal. The chocolate chip cookies are vegan. The nut and seed mixes are simple but creatively-seasoned. There is a peanut butter and crackers box, and also a sunflower seed butter and cracker box, just in case you have peanut issues. The plantain chips with either black bean dip or the edamame kale dip are my favorites, by far. The ones that come with an applesauce cup even have a little spoon, and if the cheese is runny, it comes with a wooden spreader.

The GoPicnic site sells the meals cheaper than you can get them in the stores, if you buy a few at a time (and, actually, I was introduced to them because Target had a few on clearance, so I was willing to part with $1.45 for one, even if I might not have spent $3). If you sign up for their emails, you get notified of specials and sales, plus you get coupon codes. I've never spent full price on anything I've ordered from them. The meals range from about 270 calories to 490 calories, and the fact that they're portion-controlled makes it easy to keep track. Most of them are in SparkPeople, so I just scan the UPC code and it's all done.

They also sell ten-packs of things like their bean dip (either three-bean or the black bean, but, unfortunately, not yet on the edamame and kale), flatbread crackers, fruit snacks, and trail mixes. They have other snacks that they seem to be adding fairly frequently, too.

4. Bell Plantation PB2 I'm going to tell you the truth: I bought this on a whim about a year ago when I saw it at Walmart and asked on social media, "What's the deal?" Many people swore by it. I really didn't find much to do with it besides adding it to banana "ice cream" (which I still do... it's fabulous). It seemed like the same kind of thing as protein powder, which is fine, but I don't use a lot.

More recently, however, I've started "reconstituting" it (2 tablespoons of powder, 1 tablespoon of water) and using it... as peanut butter! I've had it on toast, on PB&Js, and with sliced fruit and crackers. You know what? It's actually good. I typically get the chocolate one, of course. And before this, the only "low-fat peanut butter" product I'd had experience with was Walden Farm's, and it's just sad.

You know what I just realized? I'm seriously like a child. I need fun food or I get bored. If I can't do constant doughnuts and pizza (sad face), then I need stuff that's going to be as pleasurable to eat. And, yes, I do like eating fruits and vegetables -- most favorites are butternut squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli slaw, and spinach (those last two, I will eat to the point of digestive issues). But I have a very persistent sweet tooth, and maybe a "fat tooth," if that's a thing. So I'm trying to sate it as healthily as possible.

What about you guys? What do you love?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

This and That

We'll see how much of this I can get down... I was trying to be wise and use Mal's nap time well by putting dinner together. Instead, the first thing I did was to open the quinoa poorly, spilling it all over the kitchen floor, requiring a 15-minute sweep job that did not get it all up, but at least means I'm not getting it embedded into the soles of my feet whilst I work.

Oh well. Here goes:

See that kid up there? He just moved into the largest "baby" diapers we can purchase. He's not even two yet. If he outgrows these (they just say "37+ pounds," but I'm sure there's a cutoff somewhere, most likely his legs), we'll have to start forking over the major bucks that diaper-makers seem to think parents of elementary-aged kids who still need them can fork over.  Did I mention that he's still a year old?

Speaking of that, he officially cannot wear anything that's smaller than a 3T anymore. I'm bummed because I bought these very cute 3T shorts from Bert's Bees, but the waists were too big. They have ornamental drawstrings... why not just put ACTUAL drawstrings, dude? Anyway, we tried them on the other day, and the waists are STILL too big, but now the rise is getting too short. So he probably won't ever be able to wear them.

In other (kid) news: D's tablet has been with the manufacturer getting a tune-up for a couple of weeks. In its absence, she's rediscovered a passion she used to have: slime. On her own, she's researched various "recipes," made a list of what she needs, made test batches, and tweaked formulas to achieve the feel she wants, and has generally made a huge mess (but also cleaned up after herself). She said she's not sure of the science behind why what she's doing works, but she's curious. Curious is good. It's fun to see her "playing," and it's been nice to have her hanging out in the common area a little more than usual. Don't worry; we'll try not to get used to it.

James is plugging away at work. He realizes he has a good job, and that's good for all of us. I know if he didn't have a family, he'd be just as happy doing day labor and chilling when he didn't need money. I appreciate him. I love that he has every other Friday off, just wish his commute weren't so unpredictable and generally long, even on good days. We're trying to fix that shortly. (See what I did there?)

As for me, I'm almost three weeks into trying to "re-calibrate" my eating. Over the pregnancy and breastfeeding, I've gotten used to eating whatever, whenever. It seems like Mal's "on" every ten minutes, but I don't know how much he drinks anymore. I know he's still getting some milk, though, because when he had a stomach bug several weeks ago, he didn't eat anything for two or three days but never got dehydrated and had a day of newborn-like breast milk diapers. Anyway, I can tell that I've been starting to put on some weight, and I don't want that. I'm already dealing with the body changes that come postpartum and from entering middle age. So I decided to rein it in.

The thing is, I don't have a scale, so I have no idea what I weigh, and I don't have an iron-clad goal in mind. I just want not to have to look away at candid pictures of myself, and I want my clothes to be comfortable, not ride up or bunch, etc.

SparkPeople has decided that I likely burn about 1800 calories just hanging around being alive and all, so it's tabulated that I can safely ingest about 1550 calories per day. It is extremely likely that this is about half of what I was consuming before, so it hasn't been a gleeful three weeks, I'll tell you that much. But now that I'm starting to get used to it, it's better... even if I've often already eaten dinner by the time James gets home at or around 8 PM.

In the past few days, I've felt like I can start to see a difference. It might just be that I'm not full and bloated all of the time. Who knows. But I'm glad, because I hate hate hate having to think this much about what I eat, spend time inputting it, etc. It needs to be doing some good if I'm going to work on it. It's so boring and stupid. Seriously. I hate it. Necessary evil and all.

Along with that, I changed over from the kid-friendly eMeals program to the portion-controlled one (easier to keep track with all of the nutritional info). They have entrees and side dishes that are typically 500 calories or less. So far. I've loved them all, and so has the family. They get more than one serving, as it makes enough for six people; one's been working for me, though.

Coming up: James is off work Friday. The following weekend is Mal's birthday (!). Less than 2 weeks until the first Presidential Debate, and I want to make it like a Super Bowl party thing up at the clubhouse. No takers so far, but I'll totally do it, anyway. The Round Rock Chalk Walk is in 2.5 weeks; James hasn't been to that before. One month until we go to the State Fair of Texas (gosh, I wish we could make it to the Oklahoma Sugar Arts show the week before that). About 6 weeks until Mal and I go to a big homeschool Halloween party at the Thinkery. Less than 2 months until D turns 15 (!). We're planning to spend Thanksgiving at Port Aransas. Our lease is up in 31 weeks. So we have a lot going on. I love this adventure with my favorite people!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Candy and Tech Support

Our apartment's office keeps a steady supply of candy available for everyone.

It's a special treat for us to take Mal up there to see what they have available. I think the walk is only about a quarter mile round trip. But there's a pretty meaningful hill involved. And lots of traffic. And lots of distractions. And lots of Texas summer heat. Except that I usually get home after they're closed and the temperature's dropping back down into the 80's this time of year.

So it isn't a "let's take an extra-long weekend to see your grandparents" kind of treat. But we still usually only get to really enjoy their snack bar on the weekends.

Don't get me wrong. Mal has a great time just hanging out in the clubhouse after hours, watching me drink coffee out of their Starbucks machine (black...the creamer goes away with the candy) and just soaking it all up. I think he enjoys that almost as much as he did the time we spent hanging out at the pool in the rain with the fresh bag of candy from the office.

My first instinct was "It's starting to rain...we need to get inside!"

Then I remembered that thunderstorms don't really happen here (though we do get plenty of flooding elsewhere), and that we don't really have to worry much about catching a chill. So we just enjoyed the rare rain shower and munched on his snack bag (would it make me look like a better parent if I claimed that I ate the Goldfish while he ate the real junk food?)

The important take-away from that part of the story is that we get snack-bags of junk (mostly marshmallows and M&Ms) from the office that are pretty special to Mal.

The other day, I spent a long time on the phone with either tech support or customer service about our internet connection. I won't bore you with details. The basic point is that it wasn't working.

While I was on that call, Mal periodically brought me pieces of that candy from those trips to the office.

Laura was doing a heroic job of keeping him distracted while this was all going on. I wound up opening my "office" doors wide so I could run back and forth between that computer and my laptop to try to explain to the tech what the difference was between the wireless and wired connections. And scrabbling frantically through one of our junk drawers to try to find something I could use to factory reset our modem.

So she did an amazing job of keeping him away from all the useless garbage that I usually just keep locked up and really should throw away.

But every once in a while, he'd remember that I was in the other room and bring me a piece or two of candy. Had he tasted it first? Shoved it up his nose? When you have a kid this age, asking those sorts of questions isn't wise. I thanked him profusely and set it off to the side.

And then happily run back to play with Laura.

We've tried really hard to avoid any sort of "You're being nice, I approve/you're not being nice, I don't approve" kind of thing with either child. We want to build a loving, nurturing foundation for them where there is never any question about approval.

We want both kids to know that we'll love them even if either's a total jackass (though we obviously hope to avoid's a safe bet that it will happen).

I still tried to give him a "thank you" hug when I finally got off the phone. He didn't want anything to do with me at that point. I felt sad about this, but, hey, I'm the grown-up. (How did this happen?!)

Shortly after this, he realized that his candy bag was empty.

Which would have been a horrible thing. Except that Laura had watched me stash the candy he'd shared so she could give it all back.

I don't know what kind of message this sends to the poor tyke. Maybe it just emphasizes that she's the giver in this relationship? Or that I'm the sucker who thinks I'm getting something when I'm really just being taken for a ride?

Whatever. His impulse was to be kind and share, and I'm proud that he's learning that one while he's young.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Gratitude, a Struggle

Typically, I am an easily-thankful person. I recognize blessings, angels in disguise, general good fortune, what-have-you. But, today, guys, I had an internal issue.

Today, my husband was going to hang out with our toddler son so that I could take our teenage daughter out for lunch. We haven't been out or even at home alone together in months (I don't think a trip to the doctor's office for lab work really counts), and we were both looking forward to it.

So, this morning, as I was getting ready, I found myself overflowing with gratitude toward my husband for his "willingness" to hang out with a sweet little kid who can, admittedly, be a handful, especially if he's not happy, and especially especially if he's not happy about being unhappy that I'm not around.

I know, looking at this picture, you'd not believe he could have an off moment, right?
So my issue was this: When I realized how EXTREMELY thankful I was to my husband, and I realized that in my thanking him, I was almost treating it like he was doing me a huge favor, I started to get mad at myself. After all, he's the child's dad. He SHOULD do stuff with him. Alone, even.

Then I felt like a jerk for second-guessing my gratitude. Then I felt kind of resentful that I honestly did feel like my husband was doing me a solid on a pretty big scale to be "game" to try to occupy the boy for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, my husband never treats it like he's "helping out," but he does, I can tell, kind of get a little pre-freaked-out about being alone with our son. Then, of course, he does fine, and it's all good. So everything in my mind is just that: in my mind. But I was thinking, even before I went, that James would be worn out after this, and that I'd probably need to let him rest after (he *did* take a nap).

And that's when it's the worst kind of struggle, because I don't want to think, "Must be nice! I never get a nap!" as 1) I'm not a martyr and 2) we've made it a deal that we won't try to compete over who works hardest/is the most tired, etc.

All of this to say, I did thank him several times for... see? I was going to say "letting" me have some alone time with the teen, but that makes me roll my eyes. Do you see what I mean? I can't even write this blog post because it's making my head hurt.

I have a great husband. Let's leave it at that. His wife? Maybe less awesome. Maybe. Just a little.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Two kids, two stories

A couple of things I wanted to note for posterity's sake:

1) This morning, Mal was in the living room watching a video while I was tidying up his room. He'd been in there with me, but decided he wanted to sit in his awesome recliner, I guess. Anyway, at some point, he ran into his room, ran up to me, and just hugged me. Put his legs around me, sitting on my lap in the floor, and gave me a big hug. Did not try to nurse. Just hugged. Then he got up and went back in to watch the rest of his video. <3 <3 <3 That was a first!

2) A couple of nights ago, after Mal and James were asleep, I decided to go show D my new tablet. I lightly knocked on her door, then opened it. The light was on, so I was saying something about why I was there when I realized she was asleep. Her eyes opened a bit to look up at me, and I asked, "Do you want me to turn off your light?" This is the conversation that followed as I gathered up some trash and dishes:
"Do you want me to turn out your light?"
"I don't understand what you're asking."
"Your light" (pointing up) "is on. Would you like for me to turn it off?"
*general look of confusion* "I still don't..."

I decided she was asleep and hit the light on my way out. As I shut the door, I heard, "No, thanks, Mom, you can just leave it off. Thank you for asking."

Gosh, I love these two kids!

D at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, and Mal at Chick-fil-A.
Pretty much the same age, 23ish months.