Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Art Of Being Left Behind

I recently read something that resonated deeply with me. It said "Motherhood is the discipline of being excluded".
This may not be true for all mothers, or even dare I say, Stay-at-home parents. But for me, right now, I felt it deeply. 
I've watched jealously as Sweet Husband forged bonds, created new friend circles, and left on business trips. Yes, I've met people and created my own friendship circles, but mine are different. They're also the home keepers. The ones who don't get to take off for weeks without extensive planning, and then it's usually with the family in tow. The people who keep a constant record of what everyone in the household needs. The ones who wake up six times a night because a child rolled over in the next room. The ones who are also in the glorious society of constant sleep-deprived exhaustion.
It's not that we don't want to do recreational activities together, it's that there are so many moving pieces to get situated before we have the freedom to go out without the family. It's exhausting.

The great adventure stories were never about the home keepers. The home keepers were left behind with barely a thought. Sure, our heroes knew they were going to be the welcome party at the end of the adventure. But what else? They stayed home. Their trials weren't story-worthy. Their main worth was welcoming back the prodigal family member.   

Before Sweet Husband and I got married, I dreamt about traveling. I wanted to eat my way around the world, and marvel at architecture and art. When we got married, I knew that would probably never happen, and my list of countries I wanted to experience dwindled down. I freely admit that I feel sharp pangs of jealousy that Sweet Husband has gotten to travel to the countries on my list, while I stay home. He gets to eat the authentic morsels I dreamt of, while I plan days around nap schedules, mealtimes, and laundry. He gets to walk unfettered around places I've only read about, while I try to make it through the grocery store with four children.

I love being a mother.

I love my family. 

My current twisted up string of emotions is conflicted with itself. I love cuddling with my kids on the couch while we watch a movie.
I love watching understanding dawn, as they master a complicated task. It is just as exciting watching baby #4 discover the world around him, as it was with baby #1.
But my heart still twists as Sweet Husband gets ready to go somewhere by himself for a few weeks. I jealously think of the quiet he'll get to experience. The lack of coordinating dentist appointments, and doctor visits.
He gets a change of pace, a break from his normal schedule. While I don't.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

It's Not Always Rosy

The older I get, the harder I have to work to be optimistic.

In fact, right now I'm having a difficult time not falling into the dark abyss of continual pessimism. For the past three years, we've lived in a bubble of blissful domesticity. Sweet Husband had a "regular" office job with normal office hours. For the first time in our marriage, we had consistent family meal times together. No deployments to deal with. And the nearby beaches, were definitely a perk I'm not complaining about!

Then we got orders. For a very dry rural desert area. Where *I* would be starting over, but *he* would be reunited with people he previously trained, and deployed with.
Then we found out his work hours will basically allow us to see each other for four hours a day. Those four hours need to include two meals, clean up, and bedtime.
And the house we were assured would be available when we got here, is not ready, and they have no information other than the address. Square footage? Why would we want that information?!

Of course, the day we left for this new adventure, the littlest one woke up sick. We are currently on day 22 of illness extravaganza 2017. First it was Luke, then me, then Alex, and as of today Spain.

I don't want to deal with another kitchen that was never designed to be used for actual cooking.
I don't want to spend the next year awkwardly introducing myself to people, and hoping we click.
I don't want to have to consult the UV index before sending the boys outside to play.
And the biggest one, the one that bothers me the the most, is I don't want to feel this way.
I want to enjoy the excitement and magic of a new adventure and new experiences.

Individually, none of these would have bothered me. But compounded together, I started to question my suitability as a military spouse.
I have no doubt that I look back at this duty station and say "I learned so much while we were there", but that doesn't make getting through today any easier.

Maybe it's convoluted, but I do believe that part of lesson here, is showing the boys that it's okay to be UNHAPPY about a place, but your actions and attitudes while you are there are what matter.
Am I thrilled to be here? Absolutely not.
Am I trying to figure out how to make our future house feel like a home as quickly as possible? Yes.
Am I trying to reach out and find homeschooling groups to get involved in? Of course. The last thing I need to do, is wallow in self-pity locked away from the world.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cashew Beet Taco Sauce

We're making a HUGE change in our household.

We're going gluten free.

And dairy free.

And soy-free.

And peanut-free.

Which means I have been doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen. Luckily, Sweet Husband and his friend Niel have been willing test subjects tasters.

Today, I made Navy Bean & Squash tacos for the guys' lunch (recipe coming soon!), and decided to test out a vegan sour cream recipe. Now the thing with dairy alternatives, is they will never EVER taste like the original product. If you're expecting vegan sour cream to taste like Daisy sour cream, you're in for a world of disappointment. Especially if you're just starting to cut out dairy.
In this case, I tried to keep expectations low by NOT calling it "sour cream". Instead I called it "Taco sauce"

I mixed up the recipe as it was written in a vegan cookbook. It was okay. It had the tanginess of sour cream, but the texture was rougher, and there was a bitter undertone.
Let's be honest, sour cream is made from a cultured liquid. That's why the texture floats across your tongue like silk. I was trying to make a taco sauce from nuts. I knew I was never going to get a texture as smooth and flawless as actual sour cream. I could either try to gloss over the differences, or I could embrace them.

I ran with it. I tossed in a couple cloves of garlic, a handful of coursely chopped cilantro, a generous dose of cumin and half of a roasted beet.


The beet not only turned it a vibrant, gorgeous shade of magenta, it smoothed out the bitter undertone.

The taste was fantastic! It was tangy and earthy, with a very subtle sweetness.
Luke was eating it with two spoons!
I think we can all agree, that Disney movies are more than just entertainment. They also provide us with valuable tools for ensuring healthy relationships. One tip that I have taken to heart, is when teaching life lessons, pouring my heart out in beautiful ballad is a surefire to make sure my family a)knows that I love them, and b)learns yet another valuable life skill.

Today, I harnessed all the deep emotions of the universe, and unleashed a powerful coming of age story, in song form.

Folding your own laundry
Is such an important ski-ill
It will serve you we-ell

When your mo-ther isn't around
Maybe when you're college bound
She can rest at ease
Knowing you have clean undies

Weirdly, none of my offspring have accepted or embraced the wisdom I'm trying to impart upon them.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Life Hack!

Last night I almost became a main character in a cautionary tale.
The house was quiet. The children were snug in their beds. I was downstairs feeling a bit like Cinderella, in the pre-godmother days. Dirt dishes were piled up waiting to be washed, the floor needed swept, the counter tops needed cleared and wiped... The list went on and on.

Since throwing everything out and starting over wasn't an option, I rolled up my sleeves, turned on some showtunes*, and got started on the dishes. Unfortunately, I got a little too caught up in the music and dropped my phone- My not water resistant phone- in the soapy water. It was completely submerged.
I frantically fished my phone out of the sink, ripped the cover off, and started toweling off the excess moisture, while dumping rice into a bowl. I left my phone buried in rice over night, and berated myself for not choosing the water resistant model. Seriously, what was I thinking?!

The next morning, I held my breath as I turned the phone on. It started up beautifully... and silently. I poked around to make sure there weren't any stray grains of rice stuck in any orifices. Everything was clear, but the phone insisted that headphones were plugged in.

At this point, I figured I had nothing else to lose, so I put my phone in my food dehydrator. Right next to a batch of yogurt, I was working on. Two hours later, it was working perfectly!

Seriously, a food dehydrator.
Just when I think I can't love my kitchen gadgets any more, I find new uses for them!!

*you never know when a song off will happen. Gotta be prepared!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Let's Talk Consent.

In light of a recent court ruling, social media sites have been flooded with memes and graphics about consent. But, I’ve noticed that there seems to be an alarming slant to most of the things being shared.

I want to share four experiences that I have had first hand experience with: 

1.     A five year old being aggressively pursued by a peer. The peer adamantly wanted to kiss the five year old, and ignored the five year old saying “no” multiple times.

2.     A ten year old approached by a peer at a birthday party. The peer offered to remove their clothing multiple times, despite the ten year old saying “no”.

3.     While visiting friends, a seventeen year old woke up while receiving an unrequested intimate massage from a “friend”.

4.     An eighteen year old groped by a stranger, and asked to perform private acts for the stranger.

You might think that event #1 and #2 aren’t “that bad”, but look at the ages. The severity of the offense changes from “childish” to “serious”.

Do you know what these incidents have in common? The five year old, ten year old, seventeen year old, and eighteen year old did NOT consent. They did not say “Please touch me.” They did not say “I’m interested.” They were pursued without regard to their feelings; without respect for their wishes.

Do you know what these offenses do NOT have in common? Gender. The victims were not all females, and the perpetrators were not all males.
Consent is NOT something that we need to teach our sons. It is something we need to teach our children! Sons AND daughters. Girls AND boys.

This is not a gender issue. This is about respecting an individual’s right over his or her own body. That means understanding and teaching that “no” means STOP.
If someone says "no" to tickling, you STOP
If someone says “no” to a hug, you STOP.
If someone says “no” to a kiss, you STOP.
It doesn't matter if that person is two years old, or a hundred and twenty. "No" means STOP.
As adults, it is our responsibility to tell our children “no” means STOP; to show them that “no” means STOP; And to enforce that “no” means STOP.

Stop saying we have to "teach boys better".
Are we really trying to balance the scales of social justice, or are we just trying to flip the scales? Crimes against men can be just as damaging as crimes against women. Yet, we belittle those acts of violence. We pretend they don’t exist. We make offhand comments about “real” men.
Can we stop for a minute, and think about the implications of what we are saying?

Victim to victim, can we get solidarity and support, instead of sexist comments?

Friday, May 6, 2016

That Mom Life

Dear Tiny Dictator.

I am so sorry that your day was ruined, before I had a chance to eat breakfast, drink coffee, or even get dressed. Your perfect day was shattered before the school buses had a chance to drive down our street. Knowing the I am the reason for your distress, fills me with angst.
I realize how foolish I was. Foolishly believing that you had finished your own breakfast. Thinking back, when you happily told me "all done", and then ceremoniously threw your bowl on the floor; that could have meant anything.
But the emotional torture did not stop there. I continued to defy you, with my refusal to participate in leisurely perusing the entire contents of our refrigerator. And again, when I rejected your calm request for an entire bag of chips.

I was selfishly trying to eat, what started out as a hot breakfast. In my delusional state, which I can only assume was brought on by hunger, I forgot that YOU, and only you, are the light in my life. When you were born I gave up any right I had to indulge in a reasonably timed meal. Nutrition is no longer important for me.

Thank you for your benevolence.

Your most humble servant,


P.S < /satire>

Friday, April 29, 2016

Positively Medieval.

Recently, Alex had an opportunity to go on an overnight field trip with one of our local homeschool support groups. The students were able to do an in-depth tour of a navy warship, including all the perks of eating in the mess hall and sleeping in the bunks.
The students also got to learn about military showers; A two minute showering process to conserve water.

Now, I wasn't there to hear the explanation the kids got, but what Alex took away from the experience was: Two. Minute. Shower. 

"I'm going to take a MILITARY shower." he announced, after a sweaty day outside.
"Perfect." I responded, as I worked on herding Spain and Luke inside.

Two and a half minutes later, Alex reappeared. His hair was mostly dry, his skin slightly damp, and the sweaty outdoorsy smell still clung to him.

"Did you use soap?" I asked. Alex rolled his eyes (**Side note; dude, you're not a teenager yet!!!!!**)
"Mama, I took a MILITARY shower. It can only be two minutes long."

I closed my eyes to pray for strength. "Alex, go take a shower and use soap." I opened my eyes and stared into his soul, using "mom eyes #7: Don't argue". 

He sighed*, prayed for strength, and tried to explain "Mama, MILITARY showers-"
"No." I interrupted "Personal hygiene is one of the main MILITARY uses for soap. GO. TAKE. A. SHOWER."

This brings back memories of my school days, and all the lectures about learning the proper way of doing something before learning shortcuts. So nothing is lost in translation.

*Clearly I need to practice on Mom eyes #7; Don't argue. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Every child has a super power.

Luke's is finding markers.

What's that?

You have a couple Sharpies hidden on top of a tall shelf, behind the closed and locked doors of your secret laboratory; That can only be accessed through retina scanning and DNA confirmation?

Yeah.... He found those ten minutes ago. Congrats on the one of a kind flooring.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

S'more S'mores

It's so easy for me to get caught up in my imaginary to-do list. Inevitably I become so distracted and shortfused, that I stop taking time to enjoy the little opportunities of fun that surround us. I've been making a conscience effort to devote less time to the endless chores, and more time to the family. Even if we're just "Sitting around".

One rainy afternoon, I was making s'mores in the toaster oven for the boys.

Me: How was the s'more?

Alex: *licking marshmallow goo off his fingers* It was really good!

Me: Do you know why they call them s'mores?

Alex: Why?

Me: Because you always want s'more!!!

I laughed, sweet husband laughed, the three offspring laughed.

****5 minutes later****

Alex: OH! I get it! s'more like "some more!!!!!"

I love being a parent!!