Thursday, April 29, 2010

Looking for my sanity.

Mom-training should include the many wiles and woes of shopping carts. Before I had kids I knew that sleeplessness was a part of the deal. I knew my walls would get marred with crayons. I knew green babyfood would be spewed across my kitchen. I did not however imagine I would find myself putting kid #1 in his carseat, while my errant grocery cart rolled off with kid #2.

This causes a myriad of instant dilemmas. While you're chasing the runaway cart containing precious cargo #2, kid #1 has climbed out of the car and is running the opposite direction. Never a good situation to find yourself in. Today it was an elderly gentleman who grabbed the collar of my young whippersnapper while I apprehended the cart. If you're wondering the correct way to bypass the whole embarrassing situation, you have to master the art of hooking your foot around the shopping cart while you wrestle kid #1 into his safety harness, making sure not to pull the cart too close that you bump your own car, but not too far away that it scrapes the car next to you. Extra points if you can do this while there are cars backing in and out of the parking stalls around you.

Maybe other moms don't have these problems. Maybe I'm the only one who opens the front door to sign for a package and within a microsecond I have a dog chasing escaped chickens, one kid headed for the mud and the other kid headed to join the chicken chase. The UPS guy is familiar with our brand of craziness, so he just shakes his head and heads back to his truck.

I seriously need to get my act together.

You can check out my blue hair now, here.

I had a super fun photoshoot on Monday.

Bethany's gyoza/potstickers recipe got a shout out on this blog! whoo hoo.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Growls, Snarls and Roars, Oh My

One might suppose a child's first animal sounds would be reminiscent of all the children barnyard picture books out there (and there are more of them than there are BMW's in San Diego). True also, that this is what teachers and therapists expect as well. Kids are supposed to "moo" like a cow and go "woof" like a dog. Charlie sadly, skipped all that and instead learned how to growl at an early age. Six months ago we all thought it was cute, like a tiny lion cub trying to act all tough (and it definitely is all an act). He would peek his head around the kitchen cabinets, roar and then grin with his one little dimple that pops out only when he's being mischievous.

Now that he's older, he's grown his arsenal of animal sound effects to include bears, lions, sharks, tigers and monsters (to name a few). Show him a book with a cow mildly chomping on grass and Charlie is silent as stone. A picture of an adorable kitten gets not even the tiniest "meow" out of him. But show him a picture of a hippopotums with his mouth open and Charlie lets out a guttural growl that my untrained vocal chords are not capable of reproducing. When we walk past the Polar bears at the the zoo, he roars a mighty baby roar. The bears don't pay attention, but the people around me give him strange looks...or laugh.

Until today, the roaring and growling wasn't a problem. Yes, we are all trying desperately to get him to cluck like a chicken and oink like a pig (by "we all", I mean me), but so far it's proved absolutely pointless. Charlie did pick up a new animal sound, but it was for a dinosaur, and yup, it was some variation of a roar. There's a little boy Charlie's age in his speech group, his name is Lennox and he's a pretty cool little dude, he and Charlie normally get a long great. But today, Lennox handed Charlie a plastic tiger and Charlie thanked him by giving his best roar (afterall, that's what Charlie thinks you're supposed to do when you see a tiger). Lennox stepped backwards slowly, his bottom lip quivering, until he got a safe distance away at which point he turned and ran sobbing to his mothers arms. For the rest of the morning, every time Charlie got near him, Lennox would drop his toy and back away, hands if to say, here take whatever you want, just don't growl at me.

At least Charlie has some friends who don't mind his growling and roaring.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just What The Dr. Ordered

Last weekend, we packed up the kids and headed out on our somewhat spontaneously planned road trip. Destination: San Jose. The 8 hr drive that turned into 9 hrs because of traffic was... relaxing. Like a spa for my mom brain, or a relaxing soak in the hot tub. What could be better than 9 hrs of my husband all to myself while my kids were strapped and contained in plastic devices? And it's not even considered child abuse! Amazing. They can't climb on me , or tear the kitchen apart. There was no mud tramped through my house and thank heavens they couldn't make any more coyote soup. The Jamie unit is currently convinced the coyotes are starving to death around here (I think our rabbit and rodent communities would have a differing opinion). Consequently he's made a giant mud cauldron in our yard and filled it with twigs, stumps, boulders, and a delicate blend of weeds. All for the malnourished coyotes.

The coyotes had to do without us for a few days however, because the Ramsey family was in desperate need of a break. Good friends, food, movies, and blue hair, relaxing was definitely achieved in spades. I highly reccomend it. Call your friends, beg for mercy, and then show up on their doorstep for the weekend with enough stuff in tow to move in permanently.

Reviews, opinions, food, and blue hair will all be up on the Fairytales and French Fries blog soon... I say that so I won't forget to actually do it. Ahem.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Music + Me = Storytime Part II

Annnd.... here are the last half of the songs on my cd. I split it up because my eyes were glazing over, and my fingers were quaking on the keyboard at the thought of posting 19 songs at one time. (I feel bad for Lora, who had to be on the receiving end of my cd in said swap).

I realize looking over this, that Derek Webb is featured prominently. What can I say? His songs happen to be wandering around the room during all my life changing moments.

A New Law-Derek Webb

"Don't teach me about moderation and liberty... Just give me a new law"
Scene: In the car driving, listening to my new Derek Webb cd for the umpteenth time. The lyrics are just now becoming solidified in my head and making any sense. Finally the truth of what they say hits me and years of ATI related baggage falls off.

The Church- Derek Webb
"You cannot care for her, with no regard for Him"
Scene: Small camping trailer. Our home. Jim and I are stretched out on our bed that is also a couch, in our living room that is also our bedroom and dining room. We are back in CA and new to San Diego. I don't want to find a church, while I haven't given up on God, I am kind of sick of His church. Jim tells me this song doesn't allow us to give up.

We Come To You- Derek Webb

"as you came to us, so we come to you, fragile as a baby hopeful and new..."
Scene: Hospital recovery room, August 2005. I'm all alone, it's late and the room is dimly lit. The stitches on my belly are the only evidence there used to be a baby flopping comfortably around in there. Half of my drugged brain keeps panicking because I can't feel anything...I can't feel my baby anymore because he's not there. They've taken my teeny child out, and I cry quietly wishing I had Jim. Wishing I knew if my baby was still alive. Wishing I knew what was going on in the NICU. Unexpectedly, a nurse appears at my bedside holding my cd player. She tells me my husband was quite insistent she give it to me. He's not allowed in himself, but he managed to smuggle my music to me. I hit replay over and over again on this song until the fear starts to subside.

Dare You To Move- Switchfoot

"Welcome to the planet. Welcome to existence. Everyone's here...Everybody's watching you now"
Scene: NICU, I'm in a wheelchair marveling at my little son covered in wires and tubes. This song, which previously held no meaning for me whatsoever, pops randomly in my head. I sing it to him when no one is around. And I mean every word... I dare my child to move, to breathe, to cry. He more than takes me up on challenge...but it takes awhile.

Defying Gravity- Wicked/Broadway/Glee
"Together we're unlimited. Together we'll be the greatest team "
City sidewalk. Live music, it's late at night and I'm practically prancing in my high heels. It's our anniversary, Jim has booked us a weekend downtown and tickets to see Wicked. This song which was already beloved, becomes even more cherished. When I see it performed on Glee, I get happy tingles.

My Eyes- Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog
"Look around, we're living with the lost and found"
Scene: I'm in our friends living room, wondering what rock I've been living under that I missed Joss Whedon's brilliant distraction from the Writer's Strike. Jim and I don't sing, but we will try anyway for this song. We go home, print the lyrics and hold the paper between us, singing with great gusto to an empty room (thank goodness). We think this is awesomely fun which means we've reached new levels of nerdiness.

How Can I Glorify God- Songs for Saplings
" loving Him, and doing what he commands."
Scene: I'm up to my elbows in dirty dishes. My tupperware drawer has been emptied and rearranged into towers in the living room. I think about the days when I didn't listen to kids music and I decide I'm lucky to have kids so I can have an excuse to sing (and love) the children's catechism.

Smile- Charlie Chaplin/Glee
"Smile though your heart is aching, Smile even though it's breaking. When there are clouds in the sky you'll get by."
Scene: This is me now... in between the happy and content times. Struggling, feeling like I have a hundred things that have to get done each day and I only ever accomplish a few. Feeling like a failure. This song has a sort of melancholy flavor that isn't angry or depressing, but a very "weep with those who weep" vibe, which is comforting when I feel like I can't pick myself up off the floor.

And that's it for my life. Maybe I shouldn't have ended on such a mellow note, but that kind of brings us up to date on my life. I'd love to see what your soundtrack would be.
If you care to share, send me a link.


Bonus Song.
... from the cd I received in the swap.

Small Piece of You - Sara Groves
"Go on son and see the world; I hope you see it all, But please please please don't forget to call"
Every kid knows their mom bemoans their growing up. Every teenager nods their head sagely as if they understand. Every adult has heard it before. But somehow, despite the fact it's a well known fact, it hits me like a sledgehammer when I hold my own children. Sara Groves is brilliant in that she can capture and describe emotions that are so real to me yet are beyond my ability to explain without slipping into cliche. This song is perfect.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The lonely egg of wisdom


"If it really happened, then the power of tyrants is shattered. The worst the tyrant can do is kill. The power of tyranny is the power of death. But if death is reversible, if dead people do come back to life after life after death, then the tyrant’s sword is finally useless and certainly not fearsome."

Oddly comforting words when your neck will only turn one way comfortably and the kids have emptied the kitchen cupboards into an elaborate labyrinth of tupperware and pots in the living room. The list of projects I have unfinished outnumbers the list of projects I do have finished, and my ears are sagging dejectedly (metaphorically of course) from all the depressing news I hear constantly about my kids.

"Jamie should really know how to count to 25 by now " (he can only count to ten).

"Charlie may have to be referred to a specialist for his speech delay. (really? Here we go again)

"Your son (Jamie) has a problem. He refuses to color." (Yes. Tell me something I don't know)

All minor problems, something easily squelched by the magnitude of oh... Death crushed forever. Perspective Esther, get a grip.

Charlie started speech therapy yesterday. It's one of those mommy-and-me type classes and Charlie has struck up a friendship with a little German kid his own age who has a pregnant mom. She chilled comfortably on the floor with her multi colored leg warmers, and knit wool hat like some sort of adorable gnome. I wish I'd had the nerve to dress like that when pregnant... or look as serene while sitting on the floor covered in toddlers.

I get the impression Charlie sort of stresses out the speech pathologist. She followed Charlie around the entire 45 min with a box of tissue. Catching the drool that dripped from his chin and whisking away every toy that got slobberfied each time Charlie snuck one past her and slimed a ball or block. There was an entire box full of toys awaiting for Lysol by the end of the class...all of them there because of Charlie. Maybe I should be concerned. He does drool and slobber an inordinate amount and has done so since the beginning, teething or no teething.

I woke up in the middle of the night to Jamie's little voice cracking as he bravely tried to fight back tears. "Mommy, I'm scared." I told him there was nothing to be scared of and to go back to bed. That's when I felt his arms wrap around my neck. "help me mommy. I love you." Pause. "a lot. " Oh well, shoot. If you put it like that....come on in. Charlie was already in there. It was a rough night in the Ramsey household. Hence the kinked neck this morning. A queen sized bed wasn't made for the UFC fighter that is Charlie when sleeping. Jamie was on the floor next to the bed.

I'm blaming the Easter candy.

The kids and I had fun yesterday taking pictures of our Asian market. You can check them out here, where I wax eloquent with Bethany.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Music + Me = Storytime Part I

I participated recently in a music swap revolving around the story of your life. A soundtrack so-to-speak.

For me it would probably have to start out with something like Colby The Music Machine, move on to The Donut Man, and then Patch the Pirate. But that would be too many songs (most of which I don't currently posses). So I'm doing the last decade. I was 18, just graduated from highschool, and headed to Verity, a satellite schooling program ATI developed. For the uninitiated, think tiny, ultra conservative, slightly cult-like, christian college.

Some of these songs I'm embarassed by, some I still love, but every one of them takes me back instantly to a specific time and place. Listen to one, or listen to none, I realize there's a lot of them.

Perfect Day- Superchick/Hoku
"It's a perfect day, nothing's standing in my way..."
Scene: Starting college. Ignorant, naive, excited...not homesick in the least. Driving down a bumpy, neglected road in downtown Flint, MI, with the windows rolled down. My new (and soon to be best friend) Julie is next to me, and both of us are singing this song at the top of our lungs as if we're in a convertible driving down the beach instead of in my tiny fart of a car in a city where the sun never shines.

The Middle- Jimmy Eat World
"It just takes some time little girl, you're in the middle of the ride and everything is going to be all right..."
Scene: School is a lot harder than I thought. I can't put two sentences together properly, and my room is piled high with books I read dutifully, but that don't help me pass CLEP tests. I feel a bit overwhelmed. Highlight of this period? I have really great friends, one of whom will someday be my husband.

The Riddle- The Scarlet Pimpernel/Broadway
"We shamble on through this hell, Taking on more secrets to sell, Till there comes a day when we sell our souls away."
Scene: Sitting in my bathroom with my roommate, crying while burning our copy of the new rules. New rules come every week or so. Everyone here lies, everyone has secrets, everything is controlled...even our consciences. It's exhausting to the point dangerous. Every institution under the sun has drama and politics. It's scarier though when they are wrapped and intertwined with your Faith. Highlight? My roommate has introduced me to Broadway and I've become an instant fan.

Head Over Feet- Alanis Morissette
You've already won me over in spite of me, And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet.
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are..."
Scene: There's a boy. We're sitting on a park bench together after signing out at different times, taking different routes, and checking over our shoulder numerous times to make sure no one catches us. I wasn't planning on getting married. Ever. I was entirely cynical about the whole thing, but Jim changed my mind embarrassingly fast. Eight years later, I'm still here next to him, but this time it's on our own couch, and my feet are tucked under him.

My Immortal- Evanescence
"There's just too much that time cannot erase. When you cried, I'd wipe away all of your tears. When you'd scream, I'd fight away all of your fears."
Scene: Saying goodbye. Fighting for my friendships. Trying to hang on to everything I hold dear. Basketball in the ballroom, hockey in the parking garage, curled up on the floor of the communications dept trying to sleep, yet listening to all the voluminous theological arguments going on around me.

Numb- Linkin Park followed by Free- Ginny Owens
"I've become so numb, I can't feel you there" Linkin Park
But You say You've always had a plan, And that's all I need to know. " Ginny Owens
Scene: Disillusioned, fed up with Christianity, half convinced the whole thing is an illogical, hypocritical lie I've been fed my whole life. This would have been the end of God in my life, except he had a plan, and that plan didn't include me giving up. Looking back, I was never in any real danger. Jesus loves me. End of story.

Hanging By A Moment- Lifehouse
"I'm standing here until you make me move, I'm hanging by a moment here with you..."
Scene: Pressing play on the answering machine to hear Jim's voice singing this song to me. Miraculous since I don't think he's ever sung out loud by himself, before or after that. New scene a year later. Same song. This time, there's a ring on my finger that wasn't there a few minutes ago. We're in Huntington Beach in January and it's 85 degrees and sunny. Perfect? Yes.

Angel- Shaggy and Yellow- Coldplay
"Girl you're my angel, you're my darling angel..."
In bed at my grandparents house. Just had my tonsils taken out and am in the most pain I've ever been in (two kids later and I still think the missing tonsils were the worst). I'm listening over and over to a mixed cd Jim made me with these on it.

Gira Con Me- Josh Groban
"Little steps I take with you, I follow your heart and I follow the moon."
It's August 16th 2003. I'm wearing a white dress. I got married barefoot, but now I sport skater shoes as I am dancing in my groom's arms. Life is good.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Butterfly Hopscotch and How Not to Lose Your Kids

When I walked past the living room and smelled peanut butter I should have stopped right then and checked. But I was trying desperately to get out of the house on time, and with 5 chickens, 2 kids and 1 oversized dog all clamoring for my attention, the smell of peanut butter went through one nostril and out the other. That is, until we were walking out the door and I noticed Charlie no longer resembled himself but rather a lumpy little gnome, with clumps of peanut butter covering his cheeks and jelly dangling off his curls. Wonderful. Further inspection revealed my carpet fared no better. That will teach me not to pack lunch and leave it by the door. Whoops.

We were supposed to be at the Wild Animal Park by 9 am, but thanks to Charlie, we were slightly delayed. Consequently the famous butterfly exhibit already had a line. No problem, my friend Stacy and I had plenty to catch up on. When they told us we couldn't take our strollers, that was fine. No problem. I'm quite capable of carrying my camera bag and letting Jamie and Charlie walk. My capabilities seemed much less apparent, thirty minutes later when my camera bag suddenly and magically grew to weigh 50 lbs and Charlie decided to play a game of hide and seek. He won, but only because he can squeeze through crowds and peoples legs so much faster than his cumbersome mother. Charlie's prize for winning was being held in my loving arms. He showed his gratefulness by squirming, kicking, biting and generally twisting around like a possessed blender. By the time we got to the front of the line and into the butterfly exhibit, I no longer cared about taking whimsical pictures of my sweet children covered in butterflies. I just wanted to survive (preferably with my camera and child still intact). The butterflies were beautiful though and worth every second of the wait. There are hundreds in every color, and they flit everywhere and land on everything (including but not limited to your hair, clothing, and the ground). Charlie took in the magical moment quietly for a moment before he figured out what was going on. He knew exactly what you were supposed to do. Hop and stomp from butterfly to butterfly (and Stacy thought it was going to be her child doing that). It was shaping up to be a mass genocide before I whisked him back into my arms where the screaming and twisting commenced again. One lady asked me to leave, but I couldn't drag Jamie away after he waited so long to get in. I think I've become one of those moms. The best I could do for angry lady was hover near the exit and try to muffle the shrieks.

After we had our fill of butterflies, lions and uber tiny baby elephants (none of which I got pictures of). We retired to the kids play area to eat lunch and let our children run wild. They were big fans of the playground. Me? Not so much. There were too many nooks and crannies, and I kept panicking when I lost them for more than a minute. I was busy dreaming up creative ways to dangle the playground's architects by their fingernails, when I realized the playground was created with only one entrance/exit. As long as you stood guard at the front, you didn't have to worry about the twists, turns and tunnels. Genius...presuming there are no pedophiles lurking behind the fence with giant, kid-napping-sized fishing poles.

We had a blast despite Jamie's daydreaming habits and penchant for turning around and going the opposite direction when you least suspect it. Even if we hadn't had fun, I learned a few invaluable tips (which is why you should always have preschool teachers for good friends).

Tip #1: The Hand. If your child is running away and won't come when called. Hold out your hand and say "Hand", if child doesn't come, carry displeased child like a sack of potatoes until they decide holding your hand is a much better option. Eventually they will get the idea, Holding mom's hand is way better than being tucked under her arm. It worked so well for Stacy I've been practicing all day with Charlie and it gives me hope. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Tip #2: The Spin Cycle. Have a kid who won't color? Doesn't like to sit still long enough to write, trace or draw? (Jamie...*cough* Jamie). Wear them out first, when they are so tired they have no more energy left to climb trees and chase dragons, then bring out the crayons, markers, paper and scissors. It's shocking how much longer their attention span is.

Maybe that seems obvious, but sometimes I need to be told before the light bulb comes on.

On an ending note, here's the one picture I got of the morning. Charlie is wearing no pants and Alexander is missing his sweater because they both had an altercation with a water fountain.