Thursday, January 31, 2013

I'm falling even more in love with you...

One decade ago today, Jim asked me to marry him.   One decade.  I hope the fact that ten years still seems like a long time, is proof of my youth.   I remember when I was six or seven years old, I overheard my grandpa say "It was only ten years ago." And I was truly flabbergasted someone could combine "ten years" and "only" in the same sentence.    Now, I too can toss out a flippant "a mere ten years ago Jim and I got engaged."  Except that it does feel like a really big deal.

I can't believe I got engaged so young.   It was such a big decision to trust to my 19 year old self.   The current me would be terrified to make such a life altering call, I'd agonize over it all, and probably have lots of mental hoops I'd check off to help make sure I wasn't making a mistake.   I love that I got to fall head over heels in love, and get swept off my feet without annoying pragmatism or doubts  (and that it had a happy ending. heh).  I literally would have moved heaven or earth, lived under a bridge, eaten cabbage and water, and worn a potato sack for the rest of my life if it meant being with Jim.   Since we had such a strict courtship, and lived across the country from each other, I still wake up and marvel that I got so lucky.  It made me grateful for what I have.  Not that I'm recommending an arduous mating process that involved four parents (with conflicting opinions), and a long list of rules that changed and morphed on a weekly basis, but it did carry the unexpected side affect of making both Jim and I eternally stoked at being together.  Ten years later we're still all:  We get to hold hands! and kiss! Awesome!  

 Jamie and Robbie have been playing with trains together.  It is so darn cute.  I can barely stand it.  Right now Jamie and Robbie are BFF's and Charlie is the odd man out (poor thing).  I wonder if it will change as Robbie gets older, or if personality-wise Jamie and Robbie are more compatible (poor Charlie again).  I think being the middle child is mind-bogglingly difficult, and I'm worried I'm going to botch it all up with Charlie.  But then again, I say that from my lofty place as eldest, first born, and queen of my siblings.  *wink*

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The bend in the road

Yogurt making was an abject failure.  My sister makes it sound so simple.  Just 1,2,3...done. Easy peasy... if you're Liz.   I swear everything like this is easy for her.  I, on the other hand, was not cut out for yogurt making, bread making, or anything like it.   I was doing fine with the yogurt up until the part where I was supposed to keep the mixture at 100 degrees.   It's so cold in my house (we keep our thermostat at 64), the yogurt kept dropping down to 70 degrees, so I'd turn the crockpot on and heat it up to 100,  then it would get cold again, and I'd turn it on again.

And yeah, there are only so many times I can successfully remember to do that before the unicorns in my brain distract me and I forget.   I inherited the curse from my mother, who got it from her father.   Jim doesn't always believe me, but I actually don't have the worst case of it.  I have siblings who have far more terminal cases of absent-mindedness. Truly.

Anyway, all that to say, I didn't just destroy the first batch of yogurt, but the second and third batch as well.  That takes talent.  And I think I proved it's going to take something a lot more foolproof than a crockpot for me to make yogurt successfully.

Charlie was so disappointed about the yogurt (which we were going to add to our diet after the 30 days).  I tried to console him with apple patties and roasted carrot fries.  At least mommy can cook, right?  

Girls and boys are so different.  Since I teach a class of all girls (5-7 year olds), but am a mom to all boys, it's always adorably awesome how different the two can be.   I counted it a huge success yesterday, that we got through a study of the Renaissance artist Durer without any tears.   Heaven forbid anyone make so much as a teensy mistake or it's drama on the high seas.  They all try so hard to be perfect.   Jamie on the other hand comes out of his class with "Great day mom! I only got two warnings."

We do a kids Bible story hour with some good friends.   Jamie and Charlie adore these girls, even though I think the girls get frustrated sometimes with my sons lack of knowledge.   I mean, how can Jamie and Charlie not know what a barbie is?  But the tables turned when Charlie whipped out his lightsaber yesterday and both girls gasped.  "What is that?"  My kids stared at them in disbelief.   What kind of dull life would it be if we went so much as one day without a good riveting conversation about whether or not Darth Vader is in heaven?  When we got to the park yesterday after CC, my kids not only had on their cloaks and lightsabers...they also provided their own theme music.  Which meant I made a smashing entrance with our picnic lunch to the Ramsey-boy beatbox version of the Imperial March.

We finished our Whole30-food-elimination-diet-cleanse-thingy today.   I feel oddly ill at ease about tomorrow.  I've gotten used to cooking this way, and feel kind of overwhelmed at where to go from here.   I didn't tell Jamie today was our last day, but at around lunch time he must have suddenly figured out it was the 30th, because he's been an unending stream of chatter ever since then.

"Mom. CHEESE.  We can have CHEESE.  Won't that be amazing?  CHEEEEESE!"
"Oh man, and cereal!  We can have cereal.  Don't you remember how delicious cereal is?"
"You know what I want for breakfast?  Burritos.  I think I could eat burritos forever and ever."

I don't have the heart to tell him he may never get to eat any of those things on a regular basis again.  But truth of the matter is, I don't really know what was triggering his ADD and dyslexia.   Cutting everything out was the easy part.  Adding stuff back in seems like it's going to be a lot harder.

But hey, at least my kitchen is clean again.  And we did it!  We ate nothing but fruits, vegetables and meat for 30 days!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The land of nothing.

Jamie today asked me "You know what my least favorite thing is in the whole world?".   This is a loaded question because there are endless lists of things in the world that aren't to Jamie's satisfaction.  "Nothing."  He said. "Oh," I beamed "You like everything?"  (what a happy grateful boy, yay for all those talks we've had recently about selfishness)

"No.  You have nothing to eat!"
"You never feed me!"
"Whenever I ask what I can eat for a snack, you say 'nothing'."
"I hate 'nothing'!"

Oy vei.  Yes.  I can see those lessons are working well.   I really do feed my children, despite their constant complaints that I give them NOTHING.    Jamie and Charlie had eggs, sweet potato hash browns, bananas and sunflower butter for breakfast.  Slices of turkey, spinach, and chili pumpkin seeds for snacks. For lunch they had roasted carrot soup, homemade chicken nuggets, and sweet potato gnocchi with roasted red pepper bolognese sauce.  For dinner they had panang curry loaded with vegetables, served over cauliflower, with a big spring greens salad, and massive slices of watermelon. These are not starving children!  I'm about to go mad trying to feed them, and instill gratefulness into their ornery little souls. 

Robbie on the other hand, couldn't be more happy at this stage in his life.   When he was born, he was so good, so easy going.  Then that went out the window when he decided all baby gear were really torture devices handed down generation to generation from the Spanish inquisition.  Slap some primary colored paint on it and call it an exersaucer.   He was not to be fooled.   Most mornings you could find him hollering at the top of his lungs from the depths of his baby toys and bouncer, while I cooked his older brothers breakfast.  It's really rough being third born sometimes.   But now he's been released from prison, because he can crawl!  He circles around the kitchen island, emptying tupperware cupboards and ripping apart anything he can get his hands on.   I am thrilled.  He can empty all the drawers he wants, as long as he gives me two seconds to do math with Jamie.

The boys are fighting a lot lately.   It's tricky, because they're both at fault.  Jamie eggs Charlie on and on, until he pushes him just a little too far, and Charlie gets mad.  But Charlie can't just start crying.  No, he has to check and make sure I'm within eye and ear shot, and then he lets loose a bloodcurdling scream that would convince the worst hearing aids that someone was being murdered.   I come bounding to the rescue, breathing evil mommy fire in Jamie's direction, when Charlie wails "Jamie touched me on the elbow."  

So I got out a big basket of clean laundry and declared a new punishment.  Whenever Charlie screams, they both have to fold laundry.  So far it works like a charm.   After three or four bouts of laundry folding, I was sitting on the couch nursing the baby.   Jamie and Charlie were playing Jedi with their lightsabers and Charlie inevitably got whacked a little too hard, and started screeching at the top of his lungs... but only for a half second, before he threw a panicked look my way and clapped his hand over his mouth.  Jamie "kissed" the booboo and promised not to hit so hard.  Both of them were whispering and giving me worried looks.  I'm ok with this arrangement.  Anything that makes me the bad guy, and keeps them on the same team, growing closer to each other is fine by me. 

My goal for Mondays are: 

Complete all of Jamie's school assignments.
Cook healthful meals and keep the kitchen clean.
Prepare everything for Classical Conversations.
Have the house clean by the time Jim gets home.

I asked Jim to judge the result, and my skills ranked a 7.5 today.  School, food and CC got done (thank goodness).  Unfortunately, the house was only kinda clean, and the kitchen was a hazard zone... BUT I was madly cleaning it when Jim walked through the door, so hopefully that counted for some points.   I think I lost some points though, for being cranky.   Which is a bummer, because the whole point in crossing a million things off my to-do list, was so I could relax and enjoy a pleasant evening with my awesome husband and kids. 

Thankfully a kiss made everything better. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Pot of Gold

Our baby crawls!  He's been scooting for over a month now, and pulling himself up on things, but a few nights ago he got a look on his face (that was scarily similar to the look his stubborn father gets), and finally figured out the proper knee/hand combination that propels babies forward so conveniently.   So now he's happy, but the rest of us have to scramble to remove legos, sweep floors and otherwise behave more civilized than we otherwise would have.

We're four days from being done with our crazy, insane food-intake-plan (they need to come up with more synonyms for 'diet', that don't carry all the negative connotations).   It doesn't seem fair to call such good food a "diet".   We can basically eat anything that wasn't invented in the last two hundred years.  I feel like a medieval queen.  "Bring out the roast parsnips, and butternut pudding! There shall be feasting tonight."   Except I'm both the queen, head cook, and scullery maid.  Ahem.

I got into a fight with a coconut today, and won.   Coconuts are such intimidating things, and they definitely look out of place in a grocery store on a cold, wet January day.  But they were only one dollar a piece, so I thought...what the heck, I'll try one.   Instead of ogling the candy and snacks in the checkout line, I googled "how to make coconut milk from scratch" on my phone.  Turns out, you can go all Sioux on a coconut... Vegan style.  I butchered that thing to pieces, and used almost every scrap of flesh and fat off it.   Out of one coconut I got three cups of coconut milk, one cup of coconut flour and coconut kefir that I accidentally tossed (oops).   I even made the coconut shell into a bra (just kidding...although I feel like a true respecter of nature would feel I was remiss in not doing so).

I wouldn't go through all this trouble of whacking coconuts over the head with a rolling pin if I didn't see a huge improvement in Jamie.   One day last week Jamie accidentally ate something he shouldn't have, and he was switching his letters, and skipping lines.    He was reading all his "h's" as "e's" and all his "w's" as "h's".   A book that was easy for him a week ago, was suddenly the most arduous task in the world.  It was awful.  And pretty much describes how school normally is.  I love Jamie, and I love his personality.  I wouldn't change one iota of him.  But if all it takes is a diet change to keep  him from crying through phonics, then I think I'm kinda willing to make that change.   I say "kinda" because when I say "all it takes" I really mean, a huge chunk of time and money.   But he's so much easier to teach when he's not eating additives or gluten! Ergh.  It's hard. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jack Sprat Could Eat No Fat

We moms are crazy excited about growth percentiles.  I don't know what it is.  We all tell each other it doesn't matter.  The doctor tells us is doesn't matter, that they really only looking for healthy patterns, etc.  But heaven forbid we leave a doctor's appointment without finding out what the height and weight percentile is.    I especially look forward to Robbie's appointments, because he's so fat and sassy.   When Jamie was a baby, all we ever got was complicated, depressing information.

I made Robbie a doctor's appointment last Friday, because he was having trouble getting over a cold, and had relapsed with a fever.   I just wanted to take him in and get his ears and lungs checked,  so I was a bit surprised when they launched right into his 7 month, well-baby check up.   My luck with good appointments ran out, and our skinny genes struck again.   Robbie dropped from the 65th percentile for weight, to the 10th percentile for weight, which sort of concerns pediatricians in general.   Doctors want to make sure you aren' know...feeding your baby slim fast and diet coke.   Personally, I opt to feed my baby something worse.  Homemade baby food.  Nasty stuff made from things like parsnips and sweet potatoes.   The horrors.   But seriously, they were upset about the homemade babyfood.  Said it wasn't fortified with iron.  Ah, I told them, but I do fortify my babyfood with iron.  I cook his veggies in beef  bone broth, and puree spinach into his applesauce.    Nope, not good enough.  If it ain't in a box or jar, sitting on a grocery shelf for at least three months, then it ain't good enough for a baby.   Real food is dangerous stuff.  Best to stay away from it.

We compromised with testing his iron levels....which were not just normal, but fantastic.  So take that.  Score one for mommy.   Really, it's my dad's fault... and maybe Jim's brother Jordan... we have some skinny DNA in our family.  It's on both sides of the family.  I can't fight genetics no matter how much coconut oil I sneak into my kids food. It's not my fault.  I do feed my children a lot!   So the stats are (in case I'm looking for them later...someone remind me they're on my blog):  At seven months Robbie is 28.5 inches long and 16lbs 11 oz.   He is one long little dude with a small head and chubby thighs.  (I don't care what the doctor says, this kid does have chub).

I lost the next round.  I was trying to delay Robbie's vaccinations, but got a little freaked out when they got mad at me for endangering every child in the waiting room.  Between that, and the CPS paperwork they said they had to fill out (standard procedure),  I handed over my baby going "take him, just please do whatever you need to do."   I'm not militantly anti-vaccine...I just wanted to wait until he wasn't so little, but apparently that is a cardinal sin at this practice.  Thankfully the whole experience was more traumatic for me than it was for Robbie. 

It has not been the best week in the Ramsey household.  We lost some chickens last night to a bobcat.  Jamie's favorite pet chicken Heather, was one of the victims. Jamie made the discovery early this morning, and somewhere in the onslaught of pure Jamie emotion, my sleep addled brain turned on my phone to record him.   I know I shouldn't laugh at him, because honestly, I was pretty upset about it too, but this is a good example of how life is with him all the time.   The highs are high, and the lows are low. 


He's playing baseball this season.  Tryouts were on Saturday, and he was so excited.  Can't wait until the season starts. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Damn the Dam

The meeting of the dogs went well today.  Nelson is so cute, even if he did poop all over our puzzles. 

Jamie and I had a nerd-argument over Star Wars.  Specifically, Jamie blames Luke Skywalker for his father Darth Vader's death, while I'm pretty sure the correct answer is, the mortal blow was from Emperor Palpatine's blue lightening.   But as Jamie pointed out, if Luke would have just gone ahead and switched to the dark side, like his destiny was supposed to be...then the whole kerfuffle with the Emperor never would have happened.  And aren't children supposed to obey their parents? 

Uhhh...yes.  Yes, children are definitely supposed to obey their parents unless their parents ask them to do something wrong?  Is that the right answer?   I feel like I could answer questions like that so many different ways, I'm never sure which way is the best way. 

Like the word "dam" and "damn".  Try explaining the difference to a very literal first-grader.   We finally resorted to pictures.

There's a framed Bible verse in our kitchen that says "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."  Jamie never really paid attention to it, even though I'd read it to him occasionally, and then one day he gasped in horror when he saw the reference,  "James 4:17"  and realized it was his own name.   Now, he sort of skirts by it cautiously and sends furtive glances its way, like it's some sort of judgement of God upon him personally. 

Charlie asked me tonight if kisses last forever, or if they fall off.
I have no idea!  Because my first thought was...of course they don't come off!  Kisses last forever.  And then I thought...what if you're kissed by someone you didn't want a kiss from?  Then you'd definitely want to think those kisses wear off.  So I told him whenever he felt like he needed more kisses, he was free to come get them from me any time he wanted.   I love my wee little boys.   I love that I can still cover their soft little faces with kisses.  I love that my kisses are still magical, with special healing powers that cure everything from skinned knees to offended souls.   What am I going to do when they're gangly teenagers?  Ack! Perish the thought. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

3,2,1...Blast Off.

     My poor-pity-me-moment for the day, is my hands are so chapped and dry, they're cracked and bleeding.  My nails are broken down past the quick and some of them are are bleeding at the nubs.  Washing dishes is a painful affair, which is bad because there are a looooooot of dishes right now.  I had no idea how much I'd come to depend on processed foods.  Take ketchup for example.  Normally it takes you 30 seconds to throw it in your grocery cart at the store, and you're done.   The next time you're at home and need ketchup, it effortlessly appears out of the door on your fridge.  Magic I tell you.   I have no factory food fairies working on my behalf anymore, so to get something as fanciful as ketchup, I have to juice an apple, grind spices, and mix tomato pulp together in a bubbling reduction until it resembles something my children will agree to dip things into.

    The kids finally came out of their food strike stark, raving, starving.  Jamie ate three hamburgers today (veggie burgers in lettuce wraps, loaded with avocado and tomatoes), a whole cucumber, two bananas, an apple, grapes, a bag of pistachios and a small container of sesame seed butter.   For dinner he happily downed piles of and piles of cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, chicken and sweet potato.   Charlie wasn't far behind him.  I'm going to have to go back to the grocery store at this rate.   It's mind boggling, because they wouldn't have touched this food a week ago.  Now they're fighting over who gets bigger second helpings. 

Robbie didn't poop yesterday for the first time in his entire life.
Every diaper change, I stared worriedly at his empty diaper, like an empty beach before a tidal wave.    This morning.  Still nothing.  I changed his diaper, got him dressed, buckled him in his carseat, and left for school.   Sure enough, stuck on the freeway in rush hour traffic, I hear a rumble from the back seat.   There's nothing you can do of course when that happens, except pray that you still have a back seat when you arrive at your destination.  It was one of those epic diapers that every baby has in their career.   Today's was definitely one of Robbie's top five.

I hate weeks that start at 100mph and weren't preceded by a relaxing weekend.  I feel like we have been on the go, go, go  too much, but I'm not sure how to slow down.

Here's the play set Jim put up on Saturday. He's in the bathroom right now building me a diaper sprayer after just walking in the door from work at 8pm.  Then we're doing our crossfit workout with the homemade medicine ball I rigged out of some duct tape, a walmart bag, and the kids old trick or treat pumpkin.  See?  Way too busy.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Road trip: Shire Style

 My brain is full of helping verbs and egg tempura, as I get ready to launch myself into another school week.   I feel like the Holidays though, are lingering around my ankles, refusing to let go no matter how many times I look at the big fat "2013" on the calendar.  Jamie for sure, is still in denial.  He keeps managing to find rogue wise men, and accidentally forgotten ornaments which he pulls out with a triumphant  "Look mom!  Does this mean it's still Christmas?".   Ahhh....sorry son,  now eat your green smoothie and finish your spelling test.  

Charlie is channeling his inner Mohandis Gandhi this week, and staging a food strike.  I thought Jamie was going to be my hardest challenge on this no-sugar thing.  But Jamie knows no guile.   He's as stubborn as hell, but once you've got him won, he rarely looks back.  I wish somebody had told me this about him as a baby.  You know, like in the owners manual that was supposed to come with him out of the hospital, instead it took us years to figure it out.   Charlie on the other hand is more reasonable on the surface, but plays the long game.   He didn't pitch a huge fit like Jamie did, but quietly started stashing treats around the house like a squirrel.  When that didn't work out for him, he still didn't argue, he just refused to eat.  And he continues to refuse to eat anywhere close to his normal food consumption.   A little piece of fruit here, a little handful of lettuce there.  Thankfully, a fair amount of meat has been casually consumed when he thinks no one is paying attention, relieving some of my worry about him starving himself, but on the front he remains in an iron gridlock against me.   His too little and scrawny for me to hold out on him much longer, so I hope he gives in soon.

I love having all boys, I really do, but I look at Robbie and just know he's not going to be easy either.  Oh sure, he looks perfectly innocent now, with his chubby cheeks and bright blue eyes.   He sleeps well, eats well and poops well, which I'm pretty sure is the Holy Grail of babydom.   But he gets that Ramsey glint in his eye, and sets his mouth in a little stubborn straight line that tells me I'm in for it in the future.

We were up in LA this weekend for a board meeting for Guatemala Deaf Ministries.   Not typically how I'd choose to spend my weekend, but lots of good stuff happened.    I cooked most of our food ahead of time, and packed it up in a cooler with us, so we wouldn't be a pain in the butt to host.  I made up a recipe of Paleo chili that I thought my chili-hating-husband would eat, and lo and behold... it was a huge hit!   I'm posting it here in case anyone needs and easy low-carb dinner idea, and to remind myself what I did.

Paleo Vegetable Chili
  • 1 lbs ground beef
  • 2 large onions, chopped finely
  • 1 poblano pepper,chopped finely
  • 2-3 zuchinni finely chopped
  • 2-3 carrots finely chopped
  • 1 tbl ground cumin
  • 1 tbl garlic powder
  • 1/4 C. chile powder
  • 2 cans  tomato sauce
  • 3 C beef stock
  • 2 tsp 100% cocoa powder (the bitter unprocessed kind) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Saute meat and onions together until meat is cooked through, add the rest of ingredients and cook on low for several hours until the beef stock cooks down and everything gets thick and blends together like chili.   We served it over baked sweet potatoes. 

It rains so little in Southern California, I sometimes forget what the color green looks like. Real green... Not the manufactured sprinkler kind, but the luscious rolling hills kind that you see in Lord Of The Rings.    Too bad our kids live in the age of electronics, and left their old fashioned parents to enjoy the view outside the window. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

God, please make it rain cookies

    I gave Charlie lessons tonight, on how to eat something you don't like.   I thought it was a skill that came naturally for all kids, regardless of nationality, race or culture...but apparently my kids missed out on the valuable life skill of plugging your nose and washing vile stuff like eggplant or mushrooms down your throat with copious amounts of liquid.

Charlie has been testing me right and left.  I don't know why I ever thought he was the calmer of the two.  Right now he's worse than a teenaged girl.  The expressions on his face are never the same for more than two seconds in a row, and God forbid you piss him off.   I'm sure it's just a combination of holidays, grandparents syndrome, and his extreme angst over this diet change, but it's exhausting.  It feels like we're disciplining him and training him round the clock.  

  Tonight during family devotions (which we still haven't figured out a good routine for), Charlie prayed that God would please send cookies and normal food again.  

 Charlie thinks he's the hulk.  As in THE INCREDIBLE HULK.   But he's a superhero that still loves to cuddle with his mommy.  Of all my children, he's the most likely to come up behind me, wrap his arms around my neck and whisper how much he loves me. 

The nice thing about the foods we're eating, is Robbie can (and does!) eat everything.  The kid is a regular garbage disposal for anything he can get his hands on.   Jim and I were reminiscing about Charlie as a baby, and how he ate everything too.  What happened?  Jamie, was so picky and neurotic about food as a baby, that his occupational therapist said he was likely always going to have food hangups with textures and stuff  (that's right, he already had a OT at 9 months old).  But now, he's the less picky of the two.   Charlie, who ate like a football player with a starvation complex,  is the food weirdo.   His fork has to be just right,  his food has to be arranged in a particular fashion,  it has to be even, it has to be separated properly...the list goes on and on, otherwise he has a complete meltdown.    It's driving me crazy. 

Robbie is crying.  Poor kid is exhausted today.  I woke him up early because I had to go to work today, and Liz watched the kids.   She's such an awesome sister.  Here are our "babies".   I think Nelson is much better behaved already than Robbie, but Robbie doesn't eat holes in my kids shirts (yet). 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why cloth diapers are a deal with the devil.

It's been a blustery winter day.  Jamie and Charlie are doing a lot better with the regiment of antibiotics and breathing treatments pumping through their bodies, but they were cranky, cranky, cranky.

My children have lost all their negotiation skills.   Months of having their aunts and uncles wait on them hand and foot, and now that they're left to their own devices it's dog eat dog.  Seriously, they're like wolf cubs, tumbling all over each other.  There was even some biting today (a heinous crime that hasn't reared its ugly head around here in some time).   This afternoon they were building a mega train city, and I finally had to divide the tracks evenly, and have them build two separate tracks.  Of course, then they wanted to go back and forth between each other's cities, so we had to build a connection between the two.  Commerce proceeded fine from then on, until the bigger brother started coming over whenever he wanted to, so they had to implement a fence and border with permission protocol to come across. Go figure.  This is why politics are always the same...whether you're children or giant countries. 

Robbie woke up from his nap in such a state of adorableness, I couldn't help but cover him in kisses and take his seven month picture.  His nursery makes me happy every time I go in it.  It's like a peaceful haven in my otherwise crazy house.  I also love seeing all my soft, fluffy, beautiful cloth diapers folded and ready to go in the changing table.   A changing table!  I feel so spoiled to have one after changing the diapers of five siblings and two children without one.

I wish I didn't like cloth diapers...I really do.  I feel like a smoker who thought they could stop any time, but can't.   I started cloth diapering thinking, "oh, I'll just try this for awhile and see what I think."  The problem is, they suck you in.  The first six months of a baby's life, it is so simple to do cloth diapers.  Babies are exclusively breastfed in the beginning, and their poop and pee is practically the same thing except the color.  You just throw those bad boys straight in the washer, with some special detergent and a little disinfecting tea tree oil and it's all good.   Really, it's that easy.   And then the horrid day comes when they eat their first peach, or pear or whatever, and it's all over.  You lay your bouncing, happy baby on the changing table, open their diaper, and things are never the same again.    You can't just dump them in the washer anymore.   Things like "toilet dunking" and "liners" and "diaper sprayers" start to enter your vocabulary.  It's awful.   I tell Jim "I'm switching to disposables!", but then I find myself standing in the disposable diaper aisle thinking...

  1. The stench.  The smell of disposable diapers is awful after you've been cloth diapering for awhile.  Sure cloth diapers smell bad too after your baby has used them, but they smell like poop and pee.  Not poop and pee mixed with a spray paint factory.  
  2. The crunchy plastic.   When your baby's bottom has been gently swathed in bamboo velour and the like, it feels plain wrong to slap industrialized plastic/paper/gel on their private parts. 
  3. They're ugly.  It's hard to buy what essentially looks like paper towels and put them on your baby, when you have a huge assortment of brightly colored, and cute printed diapers waiting to be used at home. 
  4. The cost.  This is really the clencher.   I always forget how expensive disposable diapers are until I come face to face with the cost, and am horrified.   Besides, it doesn't really matter how cheap the disposables are...they can't beat free.  
Free, soft, natural, beautiful diapers waiting for me at home, and I wonder what possessed me to walk down the disposable diaper aisle in the first place.  So I go home, and look at the giant pile of poopy diapers that have to be...dealt with.  And I want to turn around and run straight back to walmart for disposables.

That's how I find myself rinsing off poopy diapers outside, in the dark, and it's freezing.   I think I've certifiably lost my mind... until I see this nice beautiful stack of diapers and think.  Ah, I love cloth diapers!  Gah...It's a deal with the devil.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mister, I'll make a man outta you.

I'm a mean mom. Today Jamie forgot to feed the chickens and was falling asleep in his bowl of scrambled eggs, so I launched into a lecture on responsibility so eloquent and vehement it was on par with Henry The Fifth's St. Crispins day speech. Then I made him do extra work, just to prove a point. Then I felt his forehead and realized he had a fever. Poor little son of mine. But did that get him out of doing school? No.

It's the bane of homeschoolers. While other kids get snow days and sick days, kids who go to school at home would have to be facing some pretty serious weather problems if they couldn't succeed at getting from their bunkbed to the kitchen table. The puny after affects of last week's cold wasn't going to stop us, so to school we went! Jamie sniffled and dozed, while I prodded and cajoled. Charlie wasn't much better. They were sick all last week and I was just done with the whole sick thing. Done with the whining. Done with having three kids hanging off me at all times. Done with getting up two dozen times in the night (and I wish that was actually as hyperbolic as it sounds... I'm good with getting up two or three times a's when it passes six or seven that I start to get really cranky)

But as today wore on, I started to think maybe it was a little more serious when I caught Charlie batting at invisible flies around his head. "Do you hear that mommy?"
"The dog snoring?"
"No...the bugs."
And every time I turned the vacuum on, he clapped his hands over his ears and started crying. Not a good sign.

Jamie sounded like a tuberculosis patient and between the two of them, I didn't get much done except realize they needed to go to the Doctor. I wasn't successful. Insert a ton of drama with their pediatrician and their insurance...and we finally sought help from our beloved Aunt Patti who came to the rescue. Charlie has a double ear infection and Jamie has a chest infection.

And so now we're all nebulized and medicated. Feverish little bodies are tucked into bed and prayed for, and I'm crossing my fingers that tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


We're going to have to start using leaves from the avocado tree in the backyard for toilet paper if I don't get to the store soon. I tried to go today, but one napless baby, two tired little boys, and too many errands meant I didn't make it quite that far. At the point in time all three of them were crying, and I accidentally wrestled my evil-minded grocery cart into the derrière of a well padded woman, I realized it was time to call it a day. Nobody wanted to see the Ramsey's out and about anymore, and I was tired of apologizing for all the stupid things I was doing.

The boys are struggling with some sugar cravings... We all are (ahem). I was standing in the check out line fantasizing about the almond joy bar in front of me when I remembered I don't even like coconut. That's when I noticed the boys sitting unawares on the germ-infested floor, ogling the candy selection. Now, we're not a sugar-happy family. I can't bake, I never make desserts and there are four containers of expired ice cream in our freezer. We have our food vices (like my soup addiction) but too many sweets is not among them. So, it was super surprising to see Jamie and Charlie studying a display of candy like it was a Lego catalog. I got to practice my "no-you-can't-have-candy" speech in the store while my children whined and begged, which I've always secretly judged other moms for doing. I told them their stomach was tricking them and it didn't really want candy... It was asking for good food. I got home and Jamie ate four scrambled eggs, and two pieces of celery and then passed out on the couch. I guess he really was hungry...and tired. Charlie cried the whole time Jamie was eating his snack. I seriously don't know what to do with that child.

I'm so glad feeding Robbie is a lot more uncomplicated. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all the same. Always prepared, always healthy and always the perfect temperature. Why do babies have to grow up? Of course I say that, but really we all love watching him grow and do more things every day. Today he tried to choke on an apple at the park, and he kept knocking off a framed list of posted rules at school today (proving that his days of chilling in the ergo while I teach, are over). Fun, fun.

A mom in my class got a picture of me teaching today. I'm including it to prove to future-Jamie that despite him hating school, I really do try to keep it interesting. Despite current fashion trends... I really don't go around usually with Kleenex taped to my shoulders and an apple on my head. It was a mnemonic device to remember Latin noun endings. I pinned it to my knees, so it should be in my head for life now.

The candy wrapper on my foot was for "nom-nom nominative". Get it? Candy is nom nom.

...yeah, I clearly still have sugar on the brain. Sigh.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A spoonful of sugar helps the Monday go down

Mondays are not sustainable around here. As in...something's gotta change. I'm not terribly good at puréeing cauliflower, while teaching Jamie how to make fresh water out of saltwater, while nursing a baby, while Charlie empties every drawer and cupboard in the house looking for his pretend pet snake.

Tomorrow is our first class day post-holidays, and our classical conversations stuff is scattered hither and thither. I was collecting targets for tomorrow's review game and was super impressed by how many I was quickly locating, until I realized the boys were taking the same ones out over and over again. Doh.

They were having too much fun to stop at such minor thwarting, so they upped their game to giving all my classroom supplies to Robbie to eat, breaking my pointer and covering the the kitchen floor with little pieces of eggshells for that nice crackle sound effect that makes you feel like you're walking across a floor of crunchy cockroaches.

Robbie is not allowed to walk until he is at least fourteen months... (and not just because this house is hazardous for his health) I don't have time for him to be mobile yet. As it is, today he somehow finagled his way underneath the rocking chair in his room and then couldn't figure out how to get out.

It was the kind of day that needs chocolate, but I stayed strong and didn't break into any of the decadent stuff Jim put in my stocking. Thankfully, the evening took a turn for the better. My husband makes everything ok (often just by his presence), I am however scheming on how next Monday can be less... Hair-pulling-inducing.

Also, I finally found a snack Charlie will eat! Roasted acorn squash seeds, which Charlie has dubbed "tiny chips". So it wasn't exactly the sugar he wanted, but whatever makes the begging for junk food to stop, makes me happy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Veggie Hangover

Recording and journaling this new year has not been as easy as planned. I pictured myself sipping tea after the kids were in bed and enjoying a short time of reflection... Instead I find myself furiously pecking these musings out on my phone through a brussel sprout induced haze.

Years ago my parents thought it would be wonderful to go on the "Daniel diet" where we were supposed to eat nothing but fruits and vegetables for a month or whatever Daniel did. Normal people call that a vegan diet... Add primordial meat in and you've got the "whole 30" thing we"re doing. Back when we did the Daniel diet, our whole family fell immediately ill. The whole herd of us were crawling around dizzy, light headed, and throwing up. My dad declared the Daniel diet "finished" after a whopping 24 hrs. I swore I would never do that to my kids, but that was before I spent frustrating hours trying to get Jamie to sound out "c-a-t" while he went, "look mommy, coyotes! ... Do you think Darth Vader really became good at the end? How can you tell he's not pretending?....listen to me pop my elbow...can water kill you?... does God exist in the Avengers?... don't let Charlie touch my crayons, he's got cooties like a girl, only worse... etc etc etc.     His brain switches subjects so fast, I can barely keep up...add my gentle (not) motherly (if yelling counts) prodding to get his school done, and... Oy.   We needed a new plan of attack.   And this is how I ended up today with my carb-sugar craving body FREAKING out over my oh-gosh-why-can't-I-have-noodles existence.   And yes...just like with the Daniel diet of yore, we've all thrown up today.  It's been barrels of fun. 

Sprinkled with moments of hilarity watching a new human taste various foods for the first time

But enough of the bright spots, and on to more whining.  Laundry!  Mother of Mt Vesuvius bless us all.   Why do I do this to myself?  I put off washing clothes until the eleventh hour, and then I cannot catch up.  Also, my nomadic family has been in and out for the last four months, which means my house is a giant archeological dig featuring The Summervilles.   A sock here...a shirt there... pillows...blankets...sleeping pads...magazines...deodorant... all creeping out of everywhere.   I've been studiously ignoring it up until now, because there's no reason to get upset over something one can't control, but oh oh I've got sick babies, and school starting, and my house is in tatters.  And not the type of tatters, that can be fixed easily either. 

Speaking of broken things.   I'm posting a picture of the elephant Jamie made, because I'm sure it won't survive his childhood, as it can't be pressed into a memory book, but I think it's adorable and want to remember it.  Her name is Elefante, because Jamie continues his lifelong preference of calling a spade, a spade.  But as he pointed out, he muchly prefers the Spanish "f" vs. the obnoxious English "ph=f".  ("elefante" being one of maybe five Spanish words he knows thanks to my little sister Julia).

This peppermint tea is fantastic. Maybe this day wasn't so bad after all.