Friday, May 27, 2011


I'm joining in on Six Word Fridays with Making Things Up!

This week's topic? Kept

Kept nursing, even though I cried.
Kept nursing, even though no sleep.
Kept nursing, even through the pain.
Kept nursing; you grew and grew.
Kept nursing; loved seeing your smiles.
Kept nursing; it's best. (for us)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cute Baby Chronicles

I thought this would be a cute way to keep track of cute things Rowan does. You know, because she's cute and such. So I'll call it the Cute Baby Chronicles.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Finding the Buoy

The swim leg of a triathlon was always the most challenging-- both physically and mentally.  Finding your stride amidst kicking legs, trying to find the buoys past the endless sea of swim caps, not being intimidated by seeing the course laid out entirely before you.  Confidence has always been a fleeting companion of mine; I've often (longingly so) wanted to be a girl who exudes confidence and an outgoing personality.  Several years ago, freshly divorced and completely scattered, confidence was elusive.  And quite by accident, something saved me.  Training for triathlons was more than just a physical endeavor, I was emotionally and mentally challenged: to believe in myself, to push through pain and discouragement.  The journey from having to hold my nose underwater, to swimming more than a half mile in open water required patience and courage.  During this tumultuous time in my life, I found a strength I didn't know I had, and it drove me.  On the other side, I found myself more confident, more courageous, and more proud than I had ever been before.

Here I am in September 2007 at the Sandman Triathlon:

Here I am in May 2008. I was the fittest I've ever been:

I look longingly at pictures like these.

And now, here I am. My life is much different now-- I have a wonderful husband and a wonderful new family. I have a beautiful, newborn daughter who delights me to no end. But what is sometimes lost during pregnancy and the months that follow is a sense of self. Pregnancy is preoccupying. Consuming. I told Husband recently, I miss me. I miss who I was. And right now, I'm frustrated with having to work so hard again at getting me back.

Admittedly, this wasn't an overnight change nor was it a nine month change, either.  The total life altering experience of a new baby simply enhances it, makes it more palpable. And now, after nine months of pregnancy, I feel sluggish. I feel frustrated with having to lose baby weight. Again.  Especially stubborn, I'm in my thirties and breastfeeding baby weight.  The confidence that I worked so hard to grasp has dwindled-- I see the swim course before me, and sometimes it feels overwhelming.  Despite the fact that I know confidence isn't only found in physical qualities-- whether it's the size of clothes or the speed of a 5k--  I feel like the person I was is lost and in her place is someone who can barely run a mile and doesn't have time to fix her hair.  Sometimes I can't find the buoy amidst the swim caps.

And I know feeling all of this is completely normal.  I wouldn't trade anything I have now to escape it.

So where does it leave me?  Once again, on a quest to drop weight.  Once again, on a quest to run for ten minutes without having to stop to breathe and recover.  Once again, on a quest to remember that the dust will settle, and I will feel normal again.  I can draw on the strength I found in training and remember to breathe and calmly find the buoy.  To see that life has already begun to groove with this new brown baby of ours.  We are all finding our stride, and through patience and perseverance, a new me will emerge, strong and confident.  Especially with the help of my little running partner.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday Jam

Yesterday was a busy day at the Rock House.  Because the boys and I were super berry pickers, I now had about 13 pounds of strawberries to deal with before they went bad.  Luckily, last summer I got brave and tried canning strawberry jam for the first time.  My grandma always used to have some kind of homemade jam, and I missed it.  Store bought just isn't the same, so I gave it a shot, and it ended up being so easy.  And it didn't really take that long.  Well.  Let's remember that last year, I only canned about 4 pints at a time.  Turns out that 13 pounds of berries will make quite a bit more jam than 4 pints.  Let's try three hours of kitchen duty.  Not something I usually find enjoyable.

Luckily, brown baby loves to sleep in her Beco Butterfly:

And the boys were busy being gardeners in the front yard:

Pacey was on landscaping brick removal duty-- $ .25 per ugly, red brick-- and he knows how to capitalize.  He made close to $30.  And is quite proud because he figured out that over the weekend, he lifted half of a ton.  Something I'm sure will be a hot topic at the lunch table today.

Gage joined in on the brick removing fun, too, but gave up (not surprised, are we?) after only $7 and went to a much more creative endeavor.

I had fun mashing berries in the kitchen.  I turned Pandora radio to the Matchbox 20 station and pounded away.  Pounded and smashed, pounded and smashed...  I'm thinking there may have been some pent up frustration going on here.  It was way too much fun.

All of that smashing resulted in 15 cups of berries (thank goodness I got my grandma's huge canning pot) that needed 21 cups of sugar added to it.  Yes, 21 cups of sugar.  Who knew jam required that much sugar?  Which is exactly why it's so good, but I'm not sure it can be considered a fruit after all that.

Now those who know me know that I am not so much a cook of any kind.  I burn things.  I mix up steps.  The fact that the recipe is written for 5 cups of berries and 7 cups of sugar, and I had to triple it left me stressed.  I was convinced that somewhere my tripling calculations would be off and the jam would be ruined.  Husband always tells me not to do public math.  Kitchen math is equally as dangerous.

Boiling the canning jars makes me feel like something of a chemist.

So does simmering the lids...  The fact that I had three pots actively going on the stove is not lost on me.  I actually didn't burn or overflow anything.

The result: 15 pints of delicious strawberry jam!

It was a great Sunday, and I love that I connect with my past by doing things like canning jam.  I love sharing these kinds of traditions with my family and creating something that everyone at the Rock House loves.

How do you stay connected with your past?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Strawberries, Old Times, and New Challenges

A good friend and I took the boyos strawberry picking today while brown baby hung out with her daddy. (I use the term 'hung out' loosely because the report is she cried a lot while we were gone.) Baby Diva strikes again!

It did me good to get out with just my boys. I haven't been able to do something with just them since before she was born, and lately I've felt like I can't really given enough of myself to anyone. Maybe that's not accurate. I have to give so much of myself to brown baby that I feel like there is nothing left to give to others. And after having nine years with the boys to myself, it feels off to have spent so little time with them other than doing homework, which is more akin to torture in my book. And probably theirs too.

It was nice to enjoy the boys through the lens of fun. Rather than constantly shushing them (because let's face it, they don't know how to be quiet), we spoke freely and laughed loudly. We pointed out mutant strawberries and oohed and aahed over the perfectly shaped ones. I had time to focus on just them instead of dealing with the noise they make or listening to their endless retellings of the latest cartoon they watched.

I realized that I have to make time like this with them even though it is hard right now. Because I know they are growing fast, and for a moment, they seemed a little smaller in the vast expanse of red berries. They forgot to fight with each other and forgot how to exercise their obnoxious elementary school senses of humor. I miss moments like these.

The challenges that come with a new baby are something you can anticipate, but never fully understand until immersed in dirty diapers and sleep deprivation. And despite having done this twice before, I still wasn't ready for how it would change this time. Being stretched very thin with brown baby is a normal thing. Feeling overwhelmed with the lack of structure is definitely taking its toll, but spending time and checking in with my boys and enjoying them, just them, is crucial to my happiness.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Falling Down

Pacey crashed on his bike for the first time today--

A rite of passage we all experience.

I helped him hobble home, doctored his scrapes, and gave him love.

Gage, the ever-thoughtful observer (and hesitant bike-rider), looked at me and said,

"Mommy, I knew two wheels were a bad idea."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Newest Rock House Member

I've been meaning to get to this post for oh let's see... 9 weeks?  It's amazing how time flies when you are not sleeping, have a baby attached to your boob, and love every second of it!

Here's Rowan Ella-Grey!  Aka Rowboat.  Aka Babas.  Aka the newest love of my life.

To say that it's been an adjustment going from two relatively low-maintenance boys (forget about the constant refereeing for a minute) to a completely helpless newborn is a slight understatement.  It's been more like culture shock-- an expected culture shock, but still.  Still.  Oh, how I'd grown to love my sleep in the years since the boys were babies.  Those precious 9 hours a night of uninterrupted sleep.  Now?  I'm glad for 3 at a time.  In fact, I celebrate it.

Big changes have been going on here at the Rock House.  Some we knew to expect.  Some we have had to adjust to as they come along.  But what we know for sure is that we wouldn't change a thing.  This little brown baby of ours has brought so much love and so much joy to the Rock House!  Okay, and maybe a little screaming, too.  She has earned the reputation of being a baby diva after all.

I'm going to be more faithful to my blog (yes, I know you've heard that before, but I mean it this time!) and continue to chronical our life at the Rock House.  Because when you have a 17, 9, and 7 year old and 9 week old, there will always be something to write about!

Growing Up

Recent milestones:

1. Gage called me “mom” instead of “mommy” for the first time.

2. Pacey learned to make armpit farts.

Both make me want to cry.

Inside the Third Grade Lunch Table

I’ve been lamenting (whining?) for the past year or so over the changes I’ve noticed in Pacey. He’s suddenly gone from this cute little preschool/kindergarten boy to an elementary school boy. I’m not so sure what I think of elementary school boys yet. And lately, he has been driving me insane every time we are in the car, flexing his sense of humor and trying to get his brother to be the butt of all of his jokes. Where on earth is all of this coming from, I’ve wondered? I have suspected that school is the answer, and yesterday, my suspicions were confirmed. The downfall of our cute preschool/kindergarten students is directly related to the lunch table. Oh yes, it’s a very serious situation, and I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to witness it firsthand.

I was given a very secret invitation by Pacey to be a part of his lunch time yesterday, and while I was there, here is a slightly abridged transcript of the brief 25 minutes…

1. Pacey tapped me and said, “You’ve got the cheese touch.” Luckily a nice little girl told me to pass it to her (such a martyr), and she passed the dreaded cheese touch down the table.

2. But then this nice little girl reached over and tapped Pacey and said, “You’ve got the girl touch. Now you’re a girl permanently because you didn’t pass it on in ten seconds.”

3. Pacey holds up Spock’s live long and prosper hand sign and says, “Uh-uh, I have the ultimate protection.”

4. Pacey then says, “Spell the word ‘ip,’ Mommy.”

5. I sighed and told him I wasn’t going to fall for that one. To which he replied, “Okay, spell Mississippi.”

6. Then his friend says, “You are smart. Spell it.” Pacey had obviously heard this one before because he quickly spelled the word ‘it’ (I would have failed because in my head I was already spelling out y-o-u…) and moved on to attempting to get people to stare at a spot for more than 5 seconds. Any spot. And if you stare at it for more than 5 seconds, you lose.

I lost.

I couldn’t hang with the third grade lunch table.


You know you are pregnant when you spent all of last night dreaming about diapers. I’m obviously preoccupied with the idea of cloth diapering. Even though I’ve read tons of blogs, watched tons of You Tube videos, and researched lots and lots of options… I am still slightly stressed about how it will work in reality. I keep telling myself if my mom did this with folded cloths and diaper pins, I can certainly do it with the way things are now:

Despite the dreams from last night where we were doing cloth diapering all wrong, I am excited that we decided to give it a try. Not only is it better for the environment, it is so much less expensive. And could these things be any cuter? I am really happy about the brand and kind of cloth diapers we chose. (I say “we,” but really, I made all of these decisions. Luckily, Husband has been very agreeable and willing to give this a try.) I decided to go with Best Bottom Diapers. They are known as “all-in-two” diapers, which means that there is an outer shell and an insert. With each change, you replace the insert, but not necessarily the shell, which has leg gussets to keep the baby dry and clean.

I mean, really, how hard can it be? Other than washing every two days, it sounds fairly similar to disposable diapers. They even make this awesome adapter you attach to the plumbing parts of your toilet, so you can easily rinse the yucky inserts out right into the toilet. And supposedly, you don’t need a plumber to attach it!

I will keep updating about our cloth diapering journey after baby girl gets here. It should definitely be interesting


In one of my favorite movies, Look Who’s Talking (don’t judge), the main character makes this remark: “You don’t know how confusing it is when someone you love so much looks like someone you hate.” I remember thinking how hard that must be. But Gage is his father’s clone, and that doesn’t bother me too much because it’s just Gage and how he looks. What has been really, really hard to take, especially recently, is that both boys have been acting and sounding exactly like their dad in ways that drive me mad. In ways that drove me mad throughout our entire 8 year relationship and 6 year marriage. How on earth do you deal with that? When the sounds of the voices, the kinds of things they say were the same kinds of things and sounds of things that literally made me want to scream throughout my entire 20s. I don’t want to squelch their personalities, and I know they will embody their dad in different ways throughout their lives, but at the same time it makes my skin crawl, and I have to bite my tongue to keep myself from saying something scathingly harsh.
I’ve always tried to have no regrets. To be okay with the past and the paths I have taken. It has all led me to where I am. But sometimes the reality of it can be overwhelming, conflicting. The reality that they will always say things like their dad. They will always sound like him. He is part of them, and I know there is good that comes from that. Despite the parts that make me want to run screaming. I know this when I can see past the fog of anger that sometimes still descends. I know this when I drop them off, and they run across the lawn yelling his name, lunging for a hug. I know this when he carefully carries them out to the car still half asleep.

Remembering this in the moments they become him, those moments that are too familiar, will always be the challenge.

Losing Teeth, Marking Time

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Gage lost one of his front, top teeth— his third lost tooth so far:

He’s so excited, but it leaves me feeling ambivalent— I remember how big that baby tooth looked when it first cut through his baby gums, and now compared to the gaping hole and the grown-up tooth that’s coming in, it looks so small.

It seemed such a short time ago, but he’s already seven and growing so fast. It makes me think about our little baby girl on the way, and I hope to savor every moment because I’m sure before we know it, she will be losing her baby teeth, too.

Scrabble Gone Wild

This is what happens when you are playing Scrabble-to-Go with a 9 year old boy and you (being six months pregnant) take a bathroom break and return to find a snickering boy at the table.
Me, being (or pretending to be) the cool, and collected mom that I am, reminded him that a “dam” is something a beaver builds, but before I ventured to the more unsettling word he crafted, I asked him what it meant.

His reply was a little unnerving, a little eye-opening, a little gut-wrenching because it means he’s really growing up, and I’m just not ready for it yet: “It’s when you’re married, and you’re naked in bed.”


Let me preface this by saying that the boys have never witnessed this in my house, so I’m guessing this new knowledge has come by way of the playground or the cafeteria table, and though I guess he could know more details, the fact that he could relay this much was too much.

No matter how much you prepare yourself for “the talk” and other hard conversations like this, you never quite know how to deal with them in the moment.

Luckily, I squelched the internal screaming and tried to validate his assumption without giving away too much information:
“Well, that’s probably more than you need to worry about or know about right now, but it also means whether you are a boy or a girl, so if someone asks you what sex you are, you would say boy, and I would say girl.”
That seemed to satisfy him for the moment.
I’m still recovering and have decided that I’d really be okay if this was the extent of his knowledge on the topic indefinitely.

It would mean that:

1. He would think only married people participate.

2. If he happens to decide otherwise, at least simple nakedness doesn’t lead to teen pregnancy.

We have to hold on to something, right?

Car Trips 101

Surviving Long Car Trips 101

1.Electronic devices.

2.See above.

3.Switch devices and repeat.

Picky Boy

What’s wrong with this shirt?

Nothing. It’s cute. It’s blue. It’s new. It has a pirate ship! So why won’t Gage wear it? Because it has two buttons. He hates button shirts. And what else? Striped shirts. “Hard” pants. Button pants. Tie shoes. And I’m sure I’ve forgotten something else that is on his list of particulars.

Seriously? He’s a boy. I thought they’d wear anything!

Mommy Guilt

Ever have one of those mommy moments you wish you could just erase? From your memory and the memory of the usually cute 9 year old boy who pushed one too many buttons a little too early in the morning? The button pushing that left you behaving more like a banshee than your normally calm, level-headed self?


What a way to start a Monday morning, but it’s times like these that I am glad parents and children are created with the ability to love each other unconditionally and forgive each other easily. That by the time we left the house we were calm again and still able to give hugs and say I love yous and move forward with our day. That despite the fact that my little boy is morphing into a sarcastic, middle elementary school boy, which I am not prepared for and have no idea what to do with, I can still love everything about him. Even his button pushing.

Optimized Bathrooms

The optimized bathroom would…

1. have a self-cleaning shower (if ovens can do it, so can showers).

2. a toothpaste resistant mirror (they must also brush the mirror).

3. a pee guard installed around edges of the toilet, specifically for small boys (they must spin in circles while peeing).

Life would be so much easier if this came standard.

You know your husband needs to come home...

1. Your dinners this week have consisted of hot dogs, mac and cheese, cereal, french fries, and frozen pizza.

2. You just heard the garbage truck drive away and realized it never came close to dawning on you that maybe the trash would need to go out in his absence

Fighting. Always.

We woke up at 7:30 today.
It’s now about 8:45.
The boys have been fighting for 10 minutes.
They have each been placed in solitary confinement and have been forbidden to look at, talk to, or even breathe around each other.
It’s going to be a long day off.
Happy Veteran’s Day.

Dear Baby...

Dear baby girl, Amazing that even though I’ve never met you, I don’t know your personality, and I don’t know what you look like, I already love you with the depth, heart, and soul that only a mother knows.

Third Grade Artwork

Only from a boy.  Girls don't do these things.

Pure Joy

What happens when you leave a boy alone with his Halloween candy: