Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Just shut up already

I ran across a quote the other day that made me really stop and think, and I found myself coming back to it over and over again for days afterwards.

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."
-James A. Baldwin

I know absolutely nothing about James A. Baldwin, but after reading this quote, finding out more is on my (never-ending) list of things to do, for the simple, effective wisdom contained within this quote is astounding. 

I like to talk. A lot. I've been told many times by friends and family that one of their favourite pastimes is to simply get me a bit (lot?) intoxicated and then sit back and listen to my (never-ending) musings, rants, whathaveyous. It's quite flattering, I must say, because truly, it's one of my favourite pastimes as well. 

But children don't want to listen to that shit. Endlessly lecturing children on the rights and wrongs and acceptables and unacceptables of life is a surefire way to encourage them to tune you out completely. But socializing my children is my job. In addition to the basics of care and providing endless love and cuddles, my job is to teach them the appropriate way to act and interact in every situation. And they aren't lessons that get taught, reviewed, tested and then forgotten. They are lessons that are integral to almost every single waking moment of our day. The repetition is endless. ENDLESS. With two toddlers, it's actually BEYOND endless. And I have zero clue what resides beyond endless, but it's definitely that.

And the stakes and intensity are increasing by the day. Two, as all parents know, is an entirely different beast than the baby years that precede it. Their language and understanding and creativity and experimentation are growing by leaps and bounds every single day. It is absolutely awe-inspiring to watch. But that also means the challenges are growing by the day as well, and I have found myself falling into the "do as I say, not as I do" trap more and more often. 

I will share a truth with you: I am not perfect. I know, I know. But you must get used to disappointment around here. And so that means that my interactions with my children are not always perfect. Sometimes they're downright absurd when I stop and really think about them. For instance, The Goblin Queen gets pretty bent out of shape about, well, about a lot of things, but the one that's REALLY getting to me these days is that she loses it when I have to go to the bathroom. She. Can't. Handle. It. Even if I pick her up and bring her with me and let her hang out and apply lotion or powder or line my tampons up on the edge of the tub or whatever suits her fancy that day, she just freaks and generally stands in front of me crying while trying to crawl into my lap (I finally put the kibosh on her sitting in my lap while on the toilet recently--boundaries, people, boundaries). And do you know how fucking annoying it is to have a very small person, and sometimes two very small people, lose their minds every single time you announce you have to use the facilities? Let me assure you, IT'S VERY FUCKING ANNOYING. So I, naturally, GET ANNOYED and I find myself freaking out and telling her to just CALM DOWN. And the irony of telling someone to calm down while you are yourself freaking out is really just too much, no? 

But the reality is that getting on your high horse and lecturing someone about appropriate behaviour is infinitely easier than modeling said behaviour--yet worlds less effective, and more work in the end, as you find yourself having the same one-sided conversation again and again...and again. And while modeling the behaviours we want to foster in our children is absolutely challenging and requires focus and patience, it is perhaps a tad easier than it may at first glance seem because of one simple fact: Our children are watching and listening and processing everything we do and say, all the time, in a (never-ending) insatiable quest to learn, learn, learn. So in a way, modeling things we want to see in our children is a passive endeavour. We're already doing it--whether it's having the desired effect is the question.

Having read that quote a week or so ago, I became more conscious of some behaviours already present in TGQ especially that come directly from The Barbarian and me without our ever having focused on making them a lesson, and it's definitely a mixed bag. The one that snapped me back to reality was witnessing her twice now bite her nails. SHIT. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. I have battled with nail-biting my entire life, and although the practice and its effects have lessened considerably over the years (I actually have nails and intact skin around them now), I do absolutely still bite my nails. It's more of a grooming style at this point, though. The Barbarian has taken the place of my father in admonishing me to just cut the damn thing and be done with it, but when I have a nail splitting, I bite it off. It's infinitely quicker and more convenient. I mean, ostensibly, that's what teeth are for, right? They're tools. Just as fingers are tools to pick boogers. I'm pretty sure we're born with the equipment needed for basic self-care. We wouldn't have gotten very far as a species if we found ourselves otherwise. BUT. Having said that, biting nails just for the sake of biting them is a habit I don't really want to encourage in my children, especially not at two years old. So being aware of and changing that habit has now been added to my (never-ending) list of things to do.

But the other behaviour we've noticed in TGQ in the past few days has really blown me away. We're proponents of the philosophy that does not encourage children to apologize, as they simply just don't understand the concept and empathy cannot be forcibly taught that way. It also often creates a reality for children where saying "sorry," regardless of whether there's actual meaning and sincerity behind it, gives them an automatic pass and excuses the behaviour (kind of like confession, no?). I witnessed this countless times as a nanny, children doing something they knew was solidly in the asshole category and then just tossing out an obnoxious, flippant "sorry," and moving on. It always riled me, even though I fell into the pattern of demanding sorries from my charges as well. I thought it was just what you did. 

But, turns out, it's not "just what you do," so we consciously choose to not do it--which makes the fact that TGQ has started apologizing, with a downcast look and obvious sincerity at appropriate times that much more amazing. The first time it happened, I was bringing their lunch (or dinner...the details of life often escape me these days) to the table, and as I walked behind her chair to set King Toad Agooga's plate down, she pulled her chair back so she could climb in, and toe and chair leg made an undeniably painful acquaintance. I made some noise appropriate to the situation and bent over cringing for a few seconds. The Barbarian asked what had happened, so I said briefly that she moved her chair just as I was walking past and I stubbed my toe, at which point I heard a very soft, "I'm sorry, Mama." I looked over and she was sitting in her chair, slumping a bit with her chin on her chest, looking downright dejected. I nearly started crying. I hadn't said anything directly to her, nor said more about it to The Barbarian than just relaying the simple facts, but it was enough for her to ascertain that her action caused me pain--and she genuinely felt terrible about it. So terrible, in fact, that she uttered a phrase we've never, ever asked her to say, but one that she has heard countless times from us.

The Barbarian and I are both extremely compassionate people, and we have very big emotions and we work very hard on acknowledging and accepting each other's feelings and communicating in a compassionate way about everything. So it's not uncommon to hear us saying we're sorry to each other for inadvertently hurting the other's feelings or because something bad or sad happened to the other that day or for various other reasons. But it doesn't stop there. We also apologize to and commiserate with our children on a regular basis. We say we're sorry when we acknowledge that they would rather stay up and play instead of have a nap, or continue playing outside when it's time to come in for dinner. We tell them we're sorry when one of them hurts themselves or when one of them hurts the other. And we tell them we're sorry when we fuck up, when we misunderstand what they're trying to tell us, or accidentally hurt them, or get frustrated and angry and lose our patience. It's just part of who we are, and so, inadvertently, without any effort on our part to translate it into a teachable lesson for them, it's become part of who they are as well. And that's fucking awesome.

I think of these as passive or natural lessons in a sense, ones that aren't forcibly or formally taught. And, just like natural consequences versus wholly unrelated ones pressed upon a child from someone else, they are, without a doubt, the most effective lessons. 

So. We are clearly doing some things right in the modeling department, but as the day to day challenges of raising two toddlers become more and more, er, challenging, becoming more conscious of how our actions, reactions, and interactions, no matter how small, elicit the same in our children--and how those lessons are infinitely more effective than the ones that all too easily pour from our mouths--has now officially been added to my (never-ending) list of things to do. 

Less talking, more modeling.

And this one's going at the top.              

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fancy meeting you here

Because it's really been a while. Like, an embarrassingly long time. Where on earth have you been?

Oh, wait. That's your question, isn't it?

And the answer is, right here. Just not, er, here, I suppose. But the frequency of our meetups may, in fact, change in the very near future (like, nowish) because of what just went down in my house.

Are you ready?


Okay, right? RIGHT? That just happened. It's only taken twenty-five and a half months, but it did, indeed, happen.

And it happened because I just cannot lie down with them for nap anymore. And although I've said that roughly 852 times previous to this, I mean it this time. We have, as I think you know, tried this in the past, but it was a horrific experience for all, so it never lasted. And we always did an all-or-nothing approach, meaning they needed to fall asleep on their own for both nap and bedtime. But because it's always such a disaster, we end up going back to our usual routine and I lie there for several hours every day, both loving the closeness and cuddles and cursing the whole damn affair.

This time, however, I decided it might be easier to start with just nap, since the stakes seem so much lower for everyone compared to bedtime. It's been about a week now, barring the last two days I actually did lie down with them for various reasons (more on that later...maybe), but I/we have usually given in and eventually stayed with them till they fell asleep after at least making an effort to do it on their own. But really, all that's doing is telling them we'll eventually lie down with them if they hold out long enough. So I decided today that I just wouldn't do it, no matter how long the crying and banging on doors lasted.

Being that they're two completely different people, they, of course, approach sleeping on their own in two completely different ways. The Goblin Queen, although it makes her sad and she would prefer not to, actually falls asleep fairly quickly and generally without tears when on her own. We have them separated into different rooms, which we've done in the past, but this time we have TGQ in the playroom and King Toad Agooga in the bedroom. I finally asked them who would like to go where, and this was the arrangement they chose. TGQ really likes the idea of sleeping with Lula, their ginormous stuffed dog, who resides in the playroom. So the little crib mattress is in one corner on the floor with Lula lying next to it to make a little cozy spot between her and the wall. TGQ lies down and snuggles with Lula and I cover her and (part of...did I mention she's extremely large?) Lula with my old baby blanket, TGQ's preferred nap blanket (my heart!), and I don't hear a peep out of her again. Until she's been out for 45 minutes, of course. 45 minutes. Every damn time. Regardless of whether she's alone or sleeping with someone, her little internal sleep clock wakes her up after 45 minutes of napping, and she's generally mostly still asleep and totally confused at that point, and often very upset. However, she'll almost always go back down in very short order if one of us goes to her and sits with her and hums our lullaby, a slowed down version of Teddy Bears' Picnic (The Barbarian made up several versus of personalized lyrics when they were newborns, but we just hum at this point). And she'll usually be out for another 45 minutes or so at that point, so all in all, not too shabby.

But, as I think I've mentioned before, the idea of falling asleep on his own is just unfathomable to KTA, and he gets so, SO upset. When we've tried this in the past, he easily stayed up sobbing for an hour or two and we just couldn't handle it after a while. His crying is just SO SAD! So for the bulk of the past week, I've waited as long as I could and then given in and stayed with him till he fell asleep, sneaking out afterwards. But I think I was bolstered today by the fact that he actually didn't start crying right away when I left, which I took to be a positive development. I checked in on him every 5-10 minutes, tucking him back in and telling him I would be right in the other room folding laundry while he slept (only part of that ended being true, of course, but he'll never know). After what ended up being the last check-in, TGQ hit her 45min mark, and when I came back out of the playroom, he had stopped crying. I peeked through the hole where the doorknob should be (don't ask) and saw that he was still in bed and had his arms up over his face, as he sometimes does while falling asleep, so I took that as a good sign. And it was--I peeked in a few minutes later and he was totally out. YIPPEE! I think it took an hour or so, but it was much less traumatic than previous attempts in general, and in the end, he did it on his own--and that's HUGE.

And did I mention it's only been a week and part of that time, I caved and slept with them? I really didn't expect it to be this "easy," and it's really making me believe this was finally the right time to do it. It also reinforces our decision to ditch this effort previously when they just weren't ready. I really feel confident that approaching parenting--and the myriad difficult decisions that come with it--as something you do with your child, as opposed to to your child makes the most sense. Yes, I've been told that if I needed to get up and go to work in the morning, I would have sleep-trained long ago (the underlying assumption apparently being that my "job" is in some way less taxing and requires less sleep than "real" jobs), and perhaps that would have been the case. Who knows? What I do know is that respecting our children enough to allow them to tell us what they need and when they need it as early and as often as possible works for us.

And it clearly works for them. Five or so months ago, we tried this and it was a few of the most horrible weeks we've ever experienced as a family. But a week in this time around and we are well on our way to success.

And that makes me very, very happy.

For all of us.

Especially you, of course, for the increased frequency of ridiculous blathering you'll now be subject to.

You're welcome.

Friday, August 1, 2014


I've recently been on a quest to organize and create efficient storage arrangements around here because hot damn, do we need it. Let's just say we didn't exactly excel in the subject before we had kids and then, well, then we had kids. Two of them. At once.

Do you like italics as much as I do? Oh, good.

The room in need of wrangling into submission the most is--surprise--the playroom. Since the wee folk still sleep with us, we turned the never-really-used-as-such nursery into a playroom, and it's a delightfully sunny, cheerful, lovely room. But it's been mostly a disaster for a while now. Initially we had the bulk of their toys in the main room because that's where they were contained much of the time, but once they had free reign of the house, we thought designating an official playroom was a grand idea. But it quickly became so messy and unorganized, they didn't really want to spend any time in there. And I didn't blame them. And although they can and do drag toys all over the house, I'm definitely to the point of needing there to NOT be toys housed in every room.

When they were younger, I liked the idea of having some toys in every room and it made it easier for all of us. A basket of toys and books in the bedroom for first thing in the morning when they would wake up and hop off the bed, eager to start their day while we pretended we didn't notice they were awake so we could catch a few more minutes of sleep (gods, what happened to those days? Now if they're up, we're up--they make sure of it. SIGH.); their play kitchen in the kitchen so they could "cook" while I cooked; toys in the main room where we spend a lot of time; etc. But now it's just too much. And it's mostly too much because there's just TOO MUCH.

Seriously, where the hell did all this stuff come from? We don't even buy them much ourselves because we're mean parents like that, but all you need is a birthday, a couple of winter holidays, and a few various other holidays thrown in the mix and BAM. Toy overload.

And really, that makes it sound like we have a sea of toys in every room, which we most certainly do not. My kids have very few toys compared to some children their age and I consider that a good thing. And as their second birthday (FUUUUUUUUUU...) quickly approaches, I am attempting to preempt the collection growing significantly by reminding friends and family that gifts, especially toy gifts, are not required. Because they're not.

Allow me to illustrate why that is by sharing with you some of the things my children have most enjoyed playing with over the past couple of weeks:

-A cheap, thin, blue plastic tablecloth left over from a party we had earlier this summer. They fucking LOVE this thing. They'll lie down on the floor next to each other, pull it over themselves and just giggle to each other for like 20 minutes. I'm not even close to kidding. (Yes, I realize now typing this out that the likelihood of CPS knocking at my door has risen exponentially, but whatever. It's staying.) They also like playing follow the leader with it, each holding onto an opposing end and one essentially dragging the other around the house and yard. I also hang it over their pull-up bar, courtesy of the ever-awesome Grandpa Walrus, and they run under the bar through the tablecloth. Seriously. The possibilities are endless.

-A roll of duct tape. You know what they do with it? They roll it down the back steps. Over and over and over and over and over. And it is PERFECT for this. It has just enough give to bounce nicely but not crazily, and it's wide enough that it doesn't tip over, so it's easy for toddlers to set on edge and get going, and makes it down all the steps and beyond without fail. It also gives them an opportunity to practice taking turns, so double win.

-One of The Barbarian's glass carboys for making beer. For those of you unfamiliar with beer-making equipment, it's a very large glass bottle with a narrow neck. This they do with what you might expect--they fill it with stuff. All sorts of stuff. Chalk, wood chips, little figurines, leaves, rocks, food. They have quite the collection going currently. Getting it all out is sure to be loads of fun, but it's something they come back to again and again, they enjoy it so much. And it helps develop their fine motor skills, especially with the longer items, as they have to line them up just so to get them into the narrow neck. So again, win all around.

-Reusable grocery bags. You know, those weird like plasticized, crinkly ones? Yeah, definite favourites. They carry them around on their shoulders, they wear them with the handles looped over their necks, they put them entirely over their heads, they fill them with things and drag them around. They love them. I often don't even put them away after grocery trips because I'm lazy they love them so much. Who knew?

-Baskets, dog collars, and sarongs. Think you need to buy or make your child dress-up clothes and accessories? Think again. Mine can often be found these days with a sarong tied around their chest like a gown (I think it might be in imitation of my ever-present apron), a dog collar around their neck, and a basket on their head. Seriously, have you met my kids? They're fucking awesome.

And all of this makes me so damn happy. Kids are naturally creative, but many toys these days are not. They are meant to do one thing and one thing alone. But things found in nature, household items, recycling? Endless possibilities. Do my kids love their actual toys? Of course they do. Just try separating King Toad Agooga from his toy cars or The Goblin Queen from her Duplos. But if they didn't have any of it, they would be just fine.

That being said, there are a few things that are always appreciated, things like books, classic toys like wooden trains, building materials like blocks, larger items good for active kids and gross motor skills like mini basketball hoops, t-ball sets, trampolines, trikes, etc. So we've asked people to choose amongst those for their birthday. We're limiting ourselves to one big gift for them this year like we usually do and I am SUPER STOKED about it. Details to come, of course.

So, yeah. Toys. They're anything. And everywhere. And a very good argument can be made for not purchasing so damn many for your children.

Because plastic sheeting and duct tape make great toys for toddlers.

Don't forget.

Or call CPS.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Some moderately intriguing title

Seriously, people. I just do not have it in me some days.

And seeing as it's been two months (to the day, in fact) since I posted last... Well, the endless possibilities of an appropriate post title are overwhelming, okay? It happens.

I do apologize for not being around, but really, you're used to that by now, right? I certainly hope so. And I certainly hope to someday get to a point where it does indeed shock you when I disappear for that long, but alas. We are definitely not there yet. There's still time, though. Not to worry.

By way of explanation, then... I finally realized that abruptly weaning the wee folk, combined with the other major transition in our life involving The Barbarian being away on a regular basis, really sent me into a tailspin. Believe it or not, I'm a bit of a delicate flower emotionally (as many of us with a history of clinical depression are) and major life changes, especially ones with a physiological aspect such as the hormonal upheaval that often follows weaning, can present a huge challenge for me. Support is key in these times, but this one happened to be accompanied by a necessarily lessened degree of support from my main source, The Barbarian. We are truly blessed to have such supportive families nearby, who are willing and able to offer that support in myriad ways, but that can never replace the support received from one's partner. It's a special brand not easily--or ever, for that matter--duplicated.

But time helps and we are slowly but surely creating new routines and expectations, and finally coming to a place where we are all feeling much more confident in our ability to handle our new reality. The Barbarian comes home to regularly bathed children and a mostly tidy house now (which constitute major improvements), and making sure to schedule daily FaceTime chats has helped both him and the wee folk tremendously. It's still a bit tricky for them to transition out of having me be and do everything for them once he's home from a trip, but the sad and angry emotional outbursts during the first day or so are not the norm anymore. And that's awesome. For all of us.

We have another major change on the horizon, but hopefully it will prove to be a positive one: The wee folk are beginning daycare next month. No, I'm not working, and yes, they are going to daycare. No one seems to feel that's a bizarre set of circumstances except for me, and it's taking a bit of encouragement for me to accept it as somewhere in the realm of okay. But I desperately need regular time to myself with the wee folk out of the house and this seems to be the best solution for achieving that right now. Part of me absolutely feels I should be able to handle being a full-time mom, you know, full-time, but damn, is it intense. Someone phrased it this way recently, though, and it's made such a difference in the way I think about it: Most of us no longer have the proverbial village to help raise our children, so we will buy that village instead. Daycare, preschool, sports, creative classes, camps, etc. Through these activities and programs, our children come into contact with other (hopefully) caring adults, who have valuable things to offer them, as well as their peers, who bring an additional set of valuable offerings. They get to experience new things and learn new skills, ideas, and coping techniques, and parents receive much-needed breaks to refuel themselves and remember who they are outside of parenthood. A win-win, no? And although I struggle with the thought of leaving them with someone else in a new environment, I feel extremely comfortable with and confident in the provider we've found. So we shall see. Fingers crossed this works out well for all involved.

And that, my friends, is your update for the day. The next one will come sooner than the 26th of September.

I promise.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Six years!

Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of the day The Barbarian and I got married in a super casual ceremony officiated by his aunt, Auntis, in my parents' backyard. Our goal was for everyone to have a good time, and according to most everyone, we totally rocked it. My dad still mentions how many people approached him that day to comment on how it was the most enjoyable wedding they had ever attended. Not too shabby, right?

I still wonder how many of them were truly wondering how long it would last, however. The marriage, that is, not the wedding. The wedding, especially the ceremony, which I wrote, was famously short. My boss at the time commented on how the ceremony was generally longer than the kiss, but he liked how ours was the opposite. Heh. Not quite, but long, drawn out ceremonies are definitely not our thing, so keeping it short and sweet was of utmost importance. To set the mood, we, to my everlasting pleasure, managed to keep secret the opening of the ceremony, which Auntis pulled off perfectly. It went like this:

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. 

If you don't get the reference, all I can say is that I am very, very sad for you. And you need to watch The Princess Bride right now. DO IT.

That movie has been a favourite of mine for forever, and it's one of The Barbarian's family's super special movies, so it seemed very appropriate. And totally our style. She said that first word, nearly everyone erupted in laughter, and I knew our wedding was a smashing success, no matter what else occurred. And it was.

But back to the part where everyone was all, "Ummmmmm... Hmmmmmmmmmmm..." about us getting married. Really, I can't blame them. From the outside, we seemed like the most bizarre match and we had had the craziest courtship and beginning to our relationship. And we admittedly decided to get married pretty damn early on. But when you know without any inkling of doubt you've found your life partner, why wait?

The Barbarian LOVES to tell our story. Like, he tells it any chance he gets. And being that he's constantly meeting new people, he tells it A LOT. Dude cracks me up. I, however, don't get many opportunities to tell it, so, in honour of our 6th anniversary, because that's clearly a totally special and celebratory number in this our version of reality today, I will give you a (probably not really very) brief account of how we met and fell in love.

SO. When we met, I was living thousands of miles away in Montreal with my ex, who I had been with for nine years. Ours had always been a troubled relationship and the relative stress of living in a foreign city was taking its toll. He was much older than me, was not interested in marriage or having children, was working while I was going to school, and we were essentially living parallel lives at that point.

We had moved in February and that following December, I flew home after my semester was done to visit family and friends for the holidays. It was during this first visit home to California that I met The Barbarian. I had heard a bit about him here and there from my family, as apparently he was my younger brother's new friend and coworker, about whom my brother had only the most praiseworthy things to say. I think it's only fair to admit that my brother fell in love with The Barbarian first. They had entered into a deeply devoted bromance, but my family had yet to meet him. He was a bit of a mystery, then, and from my brother's accounts, cooler than anyone had a right to be, so the prevailing theory at that point was that he didn't, in fact, even exist.

Once I was back home and hanging out much of the time with my brother, Uncle Duder (after all those years of mutual hate, we had only just realized we actually really liked each other right before I moved to Montreal, which was like totally shitty timing), I was regaled with tales of the man I was to eventually call my husband. I was forced to admit that he--if he did indeed exist--sounded pretty damn awesome, but in a somewhat douchey way to my, shall we say, more conservative younger self. He was basically your typical early 20's party guy, and that was so totally not my scene. And, of course, my brother had to impress upon me the fact that ALL the girls liked The Barbarian. And, of course, I was all WHATever. He can't be THAT cute and charming.

Well, as I've stated before, it really is quite a rare occurrence, but occasionally I am wrong. And I was, in fact, terribly wrong in that assumption. My first hint of wrongness was when my brother showed me a picture of him on his phone and I was all, huh. That's him? ...huh. Then I actually met him in person, and...well...shit. My wrongness was glaringly apparent.

My brother and The Barbarian, to further solidify their bromance, were moving in together and had even made their first purchase together--a very large, bromance-worthy, flatscreen TV. My brother had invited me to come with him in my dad's truck to pick it up from the store, where my brother happened to work, so a small crowd of friends and coworkers had gathered around the truck, as it was late and the store was closing. All of a sudden, this car whips around the parking lot, pulls up behind my dad's truck, and this tall, dreaded, extremely handsome guy wearing a Santa hat of all things hops out to the excited greetings of the crowd. The Barbarian had up until recently worked at that same store--how he and my brother met--and, ever popular as he is, everyone was happy to see him. I was also happy to see him because, ummmmm, yeah. Dude's SMOKING hot. Like, seriously.  

So I'm standing by the passenger side door watching him chat with his former coworkers (mostly because I couldn't take my eyes off him) when he eventually noticed me and literally came leaping over the truck bed in his eagerness to introduce himself, having apparently deduced who I was. That's when I realized he wasn't just criminally attractive--he was polite, charming, and well-spoken, too.


After we got the TV securely loaded, The Barbarian decided he would follow us back to my parents' house so they could set it up and ooh and ahh over it a bit. We mentioned we were stopping at the store for snacks, as we had a late night of movie-watching ahead of us, so he followed us there first, and that's when we realized someone needed to stay with the truck. I offered to run in and get the snacks while they stayed outside, and wouldn't you know it, but The Barbarian decided he really had to pee all of a sudden and said he'd come in, too--even though we were only a few minutes from my parents' house and I would be right back. And even though in that situation, I later came to know well, he would normally just find a bush.

Uh-huh. Sure he had to pee.

So we went inside, him to "pee," me to scrounge up some munchies, and he met me a couple of minutes later at the checkout. We were at the local grocery store known for its rewards card, but as I was not frequenting it anymore, I didn't have my handy-dandy rewards card in my wallet. But he, ever helpful, quickly produced his and handed it to the checker. At this point in time, the checkers were required to look at your receipt while handing it back in order to ascertain your last name so they could politely say, "Thank you, Mrs. So-and-So." Well, the name on the card was not, of course, my own, so I received a, "Thank you, Mrs. The Barbarian" instead. This made his face light up like little else I've seen since, and he proceeded to skip alongside me to the door singing, "Thank you, Mrs. The Barbarian..." in the most adorably obnoxious teasing manner.

My thought in that moment?


We saw each other a few more times while I was there, and it was pretty obvious there was a connection between us, but eventually I went back to Montreal and that was seemingly that. However, I found myself thinking about him A LOT over the next few months, and became more and more excited as my spring semester came to a close and my next trip home quickly approached. I flew back home in mid-April, and suffice it to say, we began looking for more and more ways to spend time together--in a strictly platonic manner, of course. But things were happening, man. The more I got to know him, the more I liked him, and the more I realized the party guy persona was just that, a persona. He was wicked smart and super witty and studying history, my major as well. We talked for hours and hours on end, of religion and politics and history and education and foreign policy... You know, the euge. We were hitting if off so well, in fact, that I ended up extending my trip by a week, and it was in that last week, on one specific night actually, that I'm pretty sure we fell madly in love. And this was still all strictly platonic. I am basically monogamous to a fault. But keeping it that way was definitely one of the most challenging things we've ever undertaken. DUDE.

The next day was the last time we would see each other before I flew back to Montreal, and that goodbye involved lots of tears and one tiny, brief peck of a kiss before I left him fairly broken on his front step and headed back to my parents'. I then made the most important decision of my life the next day on the way to the airport--I decided I was coming back to be with him and texted to tell him so. I arrived in Montreal, broke up with my ex that very night, and exactly two weeks later was in a U-Haul with my dog and my belongings, beginning the long drive home with the help and support of my best friend from high school, who flew out from California just to hop in that U-Haul and drive all the way back. I mean, who does that anyway? Madame LeStrange does. That's who.

I arrived back home, basically straight to his doorstep, on the 25th of May, 2007. We were together from that point on, officially got engaged that fall, and were married exactly one year later on the 25th of May, 2008.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is our story. Or, the beginning of our story, I suppose. We have all sorts of crazy stories to tell actually. Seriously. But those are for another time.

Happy Anniversary, my handsome barbarian. May our beer be ever flowing and may our dear progeny be ever covered in dirt among the beloved dogs.

I wouldn't trade our life together for anything.

Not even a lifetime supply of Haagen-Dazs.

And that's saying something.       


Monday, May 19, 2014

Toddler assertiveness

Otherwise known as "tantrums," I believe.

And I think we experienced our very first one a few days ago. It was basically not very awesome, which is not really very surprising. But in the end, it was a good lesson in how (not?) to set toddlers, and children in general, up for failure.

Children in general, but toddlers especially, thrive on routine, in an environment where they know what to expect and when to expect it. This is a bit of a challenge for The Barbarian and me because we are not creatures of routine and habit. We sort of just do whatever, whenever it suits us. And while many would argue that babies also need rituals and routines they can recognize and feel secure in, I find they're much more go with the flow than toddlers. But once children reach the age where they are truly exploring who they are and where they fit in their world, and most importantly, how they can affect that world and the people who populate it, the need for a recognizable day to day existence becomes very important. At this stage, then, it's all about preempting meltdowns and tantrums, as that's exactly what said routine helps mitigate. Making sure they eat, drink, and sleep regularly, and making sure they know what to expect--and what's expected of them-- and are given the chance to transition from one thing to the next in a manner and time-frame that's agreeable to them (within reason) is key. Because of the importance of this, we've really been making an effort to create a more constant, predictable environment for them where and when we can.

One area in which I really feel my children in particular benefit from regularity is naptime. Now that we've gone back to someone lying down with them for nap, it's easier to schedule it and know about when they'll actually sleep (instead of crossing our fingers and waiting...and waiting...and waiting). But some days, like tantrum day last week, I am overwhelmed with a house that quite literally looked like a toy, laundry, and dishes-filled bomb went off, and was struggling with the exhaustion and general stress that comes after a few days solo with the children. So I made the decision to drive the wee folk to my mama's just so I could come home, clean my ass off like a madwoman for a bit, and then drive back and pick them up to bring them home for nap. At the time, it seemed totally worth it. They got to have a fun outing to Nana Banana's and I got to indulge myself in the glory that is cleaning the house without the ever-present "help" of tiny humans. Definite win, right?

Well, not really when the drive home is during the start of nap and one tiny human falls asleep on the way and then both refuse to actually nap once home. I could have just let it go, but a no-nap day is generally not a great day, and The Barbarian was due home that night, a bit later than their typical bedtime of late, but we had talked about pushing bedtime later anyway to see if we couldn't convince King Toad Agooga to sleep in a bit. If they didn't nap at all, they'd be down long before he got home, but if they got a late nap, they would still be up when he got home and that was an exciting prospect (it's exciting when The Barbarian gets home, people!). Later that afternoon, I decided to try again and they slept for two hours solid, meaning they really needed that nap. However, this put them waking up close to dinner time, and they were confused and still a bit sleepy, and that's when all hell broke loose.

All things considered, I don't truly miss nursing. I mean, I do, yes, of course. But I don't, no, not at all. Except, that is, when I suddenly find myself with two wholly inconsolable toddlers. And when I say "wholly inconsolable," I mean that in every sense of the phrase. Nothing I offered was anywhere near the realm of what they wanted. They didn't want to eat, they didn't want water, they didn't want a show, they didn't want to go outside, they didn't want a tubby, they didn't want to be picked up, they didn't want to be put down. Apparently they just wanted to scream and sob and not be made to feel better. And it got old pretty fast. I often have a wealth of patience for my children. Sometimes, I most definitely do not. This was one of those times. So not knowing how else to help them, I just let them cry. Occasionally that's all you can do. It sucks and it's hard, but after letting them know a dozen times I was there for them when they were ready, there wasn't much else to do. 

I had dragged the glider out from the bedroom to the main room during the initial phase of trying to find something to soothe them, and eventually, after nearly half an hour, The Goblin Queen allowed me to rock her until she stopped crying. She also ate a few bites of a snack, which I think especially helped, as I have a suspicion low blood sugar was at play. The Barbarian was extremely sensitive to low blood sugar as a child and I think these two are as well, making this drama even more my fault, as I hadn't made sure they had a protein-heavy snack before their nap. The freakout begins to make more sense, no? 

During this time, King Toad Agooga was standing in the corner of the kitchen screaming. He was really, really, really pissed off. Occasionally he would come into the main room to scream at me, but if I tried to touch him or talk to him, he would flail and throw himself on the floor and then run back to his corner. Once or twice he let me pick him up, but when I then also tried to pick TGQ back up, he would lose it and kick and shove her and fling himself around until I had to put him back down. Finally I was able to soothe TGQ to the point where I was able to put her down without her crying again, and only then was I able to pick KTA up and hold him one-on-one until he calmed down. That was about an hour after the whole affair had begun. And once I was able to get a real meal into them, all was right with their world again, as if the entire terribly disruptive episode had never even occurred. Toddlers, man. They are nothing if not resilient. 

Sometime later that evening, I was reflecting on the fact that even though they both started out equally upset, TGQ was mostly sad and wanted to be comforted, but just didn't know how to allow herself to be, or what form she wanted that comfort to take. KTA, however, was angry. Very, very angry. And that's why his behaviour seemed more like a typical tantrum to me. And that made me realize that perhaps this is something we need to be extra careful of in our efforts at preempting, as I think he may be a bit more prone to them.

Why do I think that? Well, there is this man, you see. His name is Uncle Duder. He is my brother. My little brother. And once upon a time, he tantrummed. Hard. Definitely expert level. And KTA is like my brother reincarnated in so, so many ways. He has his eyes, his hairline, his butt chin (everyone calls it that, right?), his body type, his propensity to "point and grunt," as my father terms it, instead of talk when he clearly has the intelligence and ability to talk if he chose to, his love of anything with wheels, his "mouth noises," his sweetness... The list goes on. Some of these traits were also shared by The Barbarian when he was a boy, and KTA is very much his father's little barbarian. But there is no denying the many common traits he shares with my brother, and this inkling into possible future tantrum behaviour may yet result in another to add to the list. 

As an aside, one day I will go into some detail about my relationship with my brother. We are the very best of friends now, and, in fact, I married his best friend, so you can imagine the closeness. But once upon a time, we hated each other. With a vengeance. Like, for reals. The complete turnaround for us is nothing short of amazing. Siblings, man. Craziness abounds, I tell you. 

Anyway. Toddler assertiveness. It can be the dickens. But I will end with something that helps me in those moments, when I remember to allow it, of course. It's one the absolute best quotes I have ever heard in regards to those stressful moments of parenting:

My child is not giving me a hard time--my child is having a hard time. 

Working from a place with that perspective in mind can make all the difference in the world, especially with toddlers. 

So here's to regularly scheduled naps and snacks. And happy toddlers.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

This crazy train chugs on

Well, it seems getting back on the wagon that is blogging will take some serious effort and determination at this point. I really thought we had successfully created an environment wherein the mama got lots more time to herself, but turns out, no one but the mama (and the daddy, of course, ever supportive as he is) was quite ready for that.

To recap the past month or so...

We eventually got to a point where not nursing to sleep became a fairly acceptable arrangement to the wee folk, and shortly after, we decided to take it to the next level of weaning them off needing someone to lie down with them as well. It just felt like time. And we decided that we were okay with some crying to get them there, which is not our normal MO. But being that they are older now and can at least grasp the concepts we explain to them, we figured it wouldn't be a huge deal or take very long before they got it. 

Well, it's certainly a rare occurrence, but we were wrong. So very wrong. It was basically a disaster. King Toad Agooga took it the worst. He would rarely, if ever, go down without an hour or more of sobbing at the door, running back to the bed in relief when we'd come to check in every few minutes, only to climb down and start up again when we'd say goodnight yet again and leave. It was tragically sad. The Goblin Queen did actually get used to the idea pretty quickly and would normally go right to sleep without a fuss--that is, when KTA wasn't keeping her awake sobbing, during which she could sometimes be heard saying, "Bubba... Bubba... SHHHH!!!" Thankfully, The Barbarian caught that audio one night with his phone. It's pretty much the cutest thing EVER.

So we tried various arrangements, especially at naptime, which was worse than bedtime for KTA. We even set up the other toddler bed in the playroom and tried separating them. But for the most part, he basically stopped napping and she was getting maybe an hour. Compared to their previous 3-4 hours, this was a huge difference. 

Then something happened. I woke up bloated and uncomfortable one morning. I tried to ignore it, but by midday, I knew my stupid fucking diverticulitis (if that's even what it turns out it was--more on that at some point) was rearing its totally obnoxious head again. I took my mama's advice of going on an extremely low fiber, mostly liquid diet to see if I could calm it down, but three days later, I was still not well and all of a sudden, the telltale lower left quadrant pain began. 


They didn't run labs this time, but assumed it was the same thing and so, therefore, prescribed antibiotics. Again. So I had to emergency wean my children. AGAIN. Like, seriously? Is this a fucking joke? It's been two weeks now and I really haven't even allowed myself to think of it much or come to terms with it at all. I'm not letting myself feel the feels I need to in order to process this because I just can't handle it right now. Because I would be sobbing a dozen times a day when my poor girl either asks to nurse or, more frequently, pulls my shirt down just enough to expose the tops of my breasts, lays her little head against them, closes her eyes, and inhales deeply, over and over. 

Dammit. Tears. Enough. I'm done. 

Anyway. During all of this, we also decided to start them at a little toddler playgroup that meets down the street at the local church twice a week for a few hours. It's sort of like pre-preschool and is small, casual, and headed by two women who have been there since their own grown children attended and clearly enjoy what they do. KTA took to it like he'd been there for years--literally the teachers' words. But TGQ was not okay with me leaving her there AT ALL. They would literally have to wrench her out of my arms as she scrabbled to hold on for dear life and SCREAMED. But I knew in the end that this was a great experience for them, that I really needed the downtime, and she would totally get used to it soon. 

It took me until last week, on my birthday, in fact, when I couldn't bring myself to do that to her on my special day, even though it fell on a day they were scheduled to go, to really stop and realize my kids were not okay. KTA, and, therefore, everyone, had started waking up at 5am most mornings, a huge departure from his more normal 7-7:30 wakeup time of days seemingly long past. If we make it till 6am now, that's considered a good morning. So their 10-11 hours at night and 3-4 hours during the day had turned into 8-9 hours overnight and 1-2 during the day if we were very, very lucky. They were clingy, especially with me, and were sad and fussy and unhappy much more so than usual. They were also demanding shows much more than normal, as they tend to do when they don't feel well. They had circles under their eyes. They were not okay. 

Then I stopped and thought about it and realized we had completely turned their world upside down in a very short amount of time. They are still getting used to The Barbarian being gone for extended periods on a very regular basis (we all are...), they had only just gotten used to falling asleep without nursing when they were forced to wean completely (cold turkey) a second time, then all of a sudden we weren't even lying down and cuddling them to sleep, and they were left with strangers in a strange environment twice a week. And all at once, my heart broke and I saw just how hard and impossible all these changes were for them. They were suffering in a very real way and I felt HORRIBLE. How did we not realize this was way too much, way too fast? What the fuck were we doing? I felt so selfish and out of touch with my children, like I had completely betrayed them. They had been trying to tell us they were not okay and we hadn't been listening. We had just been powering through, thinking it was hard now, but that this was all good for everyone in the long run. But at what cost? Our happy, healthy children? Nothing is worth that. NOTHING. 

So I tearfully told The Barbarian that night that I wanted to start lying down with them for sleeps again, and a few short days later, I decided playgroup was too much right now, especially since KTA's early alarm clock makes it so they're ready for a nap halfway through. We can't (or rather, aren't willing to try to) change the fact that The Barbarian travels for work, and we can't change the fact that I needed those stupid antibiotics again and we've weaned for good this time. But we can change our expectations regarding how they get to sleep and whether they're ready to be away from home with people they don't know on a regular basis. 

So we did. And you know what? The positive change in them was almost immediate, to the point where both families commented on it that very weekend during our Mother's Day celebrations. It was obvious they were feeling SO much better. They are getting more sleep (mostly...we're definitely still working on that one) and aren't using up precious energy attempting to cope in stressful situations. A little normalcy has been restored for them and their needs are being met again more fully. And it shows, confirming we made the right choice in backing off as much as we could. 

So we'll wait and try again in a few months. And that's okay. A little disappointing, yes, but ultimately not a huge deal.

Honestly? I kind of missed our naps together. Because I like naps. All kinds of naps. I could nap every day. 

And now I can again. 


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Yes, in fact...

We are still alive.

We weren't sure we were gonna make it there for a while, but we do still, in fact, reside in the land of the living.

My gods, what an ordeal, though. I see it's been over three weeks since I posted. Three weeks! Last I checked in, the babies were sick and I was still on antibiotics and we weren't nursing and everything was basically one huge clusterfuck. That horrendous virus they had ended up lingering for over two weeks... Their fevers just kept coming back day after day and they were a mess. To top it off, The Barbarian was out of town the entirety of that second work week, so for four nights, it was just me and two incredibly sick babies. I'll give you just a moment to imagine how amazingly fantastic that was. No, no. Take your time. I'll wait.


SO. Now that you've imagined what that might have been like for us, you will probably maybe completely (or at least somewhat) understand my decision to restart nursing just for sleeps again. When I made the decision to wean them completely when faced with a necessary antibiotics course, I never imagined they'd get sick days later. I never then imagined they'd STILL be sick once I was done with the antibiotics. And I also didn't think my boobs would just apparently NOT get the memo after 10 days. Assholes. So still painfully engorged with two sick and miserable children and no partner, we fucking nursed. I'm pretty sure we would not have survived that week without it. We barely made it through even with the nursing. The sight The Barbarian came home to was not pretty. Poor bastard was still sick as well and had been miserable himself all week. He was so extraordinarily busy and we were so extraordinarily pathetic that, combined with the time change, we didn't even get a chance to FaceTime AT ALL while he was gone. Basically, the week was shit. Plain and simple. And stinky.

It wasn't until midweek last week that they really, truly were feeling better, and they've been working on making up for lost sleep (and definitely going through a growth spurt, as they are constantly eating) since then. Oh, and nursing. Just for sleeps, yes. But for the entirety of sleeps. Which had still been the case for naps before the weaning, but we had them mostly night-weaned at that point and, well, yeah. What I feared might happen if we restarted nursing absolutely happened--we were back to nursing ALL NIGHT. Ummmmmm, and it SUCKED. Nursing a cute, little, squishy baby all night is one thing. Nursing a still cute, yet large and impolite toddler is quite another. Double that, so that you're hemmed in and can't move or get comfortable because you either have one or more toddlers attached to your person, or you're afraid to move and jostle them when they do finally unlatch for fear they'll wake up and go right back to nursing...and, well... Let's just say it's even worse than it sounds. And I mean that.

So we made the decision to bite the bullet and not only night-wean them again, as well as wean them off nursing for the entirety of nap, but wean them from actually falling asleep while nursing at all. Ever. Because Mama is DONE. I am happy to continue nursing them. I am actually really happy (we all are, The Barbarian included) we started nursing again and can now wean for good on our own terms. But I am absolutely ready to start setting some boundaries when it comes to this ultimately still phenomenal relationship we have going. I love my babies and I love nursing them. But I do NOT love nursing them all night. Nor do I love having to set aside so many hours of my time every day to get them to nap. It's just not tenable at this point. Like, AT ALL.

But finding a time to actually set this new plan in motion was complicated. We preferably needed to start it on a weekend, as the first few nights would undoubtedly be the worst, and we wouldn't want The Barbarian to be a zombie at work. (Seriously, who wants to work with a barbarian zombie? Run-of-the-mill zombie, sure. But barbarian zombie? My gods, people. The horror!) But in order to have him available to help sort of seal the deal, we needed a free weekend followed by a week when he wasn't out of town--and those stars don't align till next month, unfortunately. At first, I was totally willing to just wait till the time seemed right. But it didn't take long before I realized I just. couldn't. do. it. any. more. 

So even though The Barbarian was out of town this past week, I said, fuck it. Let's go bowling. 

Wait. No. That wasn't it. 

What I actually said was, fuck it, let's make a kind of crap week solo with the wee folk even more awesome by refusing to nurse them to sleep anymore. That was it. 

And you know what? We survived. Are they (we?) going to sleep easily and sleeping through the night and waking up happy and napping like champs and all that? Fuck no. Do I still have to lie down with them for the entirety of nap and nighttime and get pummeled for my efforts as they flop around like leaden fish while trying to fall asleep? Yes. Do I have the bruises to prove it? Yes. Yes, I do. The one just below my right eyebrow that narrowly missed being an awesome shiner is especially...awesome. Did I resort to offering them pacifiers at 20 months old in an attempt to help them fall asleep while sucking on something like they're used to? You fucking betcha. And they take them sometimes, too. They even fall asleep with them in their mouths sometimes. And you know what? Future battles be damned. I think they look adorable. There. I said it. 

So there you have it. My most sincere apologies for not posting sooner, but now you have a brief glimpse into what our lives have been like these past few weeks. No less awesome than usual, because seriously, one could do worse than our collective life. Just much more not awesome than usual.

There's a difference. 

One involves just basic toddler shenanigans--and one involves things like massive poopy blowouts after being fed lots of pears to make up for the sickie banana diet demanded by tiny humans who don't know any better, facilitated by adults who should know better, and putting in ear plugs so that the toddler screaming right next to you in bed while you refuse to nurse him to sleep is surprisingly much more tolerable to listen to while you "ignore" him and pretend to go to sleep yourself. 

So, basically... I'll take the basic toddler shenanigans for $500. 

Please and thank you. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

When it rains...

...it causes an avalanche.

That's how that goes, right? 

Either way, that's certainly how it feels at present. 

What I neglected to mention in the telling of the recent...events...is that The Barbarian was sick throughout. I think he started feeling crappy the day before I went to the doctor and it evolved into major congestion and a hacking cough. But, ultimately awesome barbarian that he is, he remained solid the entire time, holding, cuddling, and playing with the wee folk most of the weekend, as they attempted to work through all of this (being wildly upset with and wanting little to do with me comprising a huge part of that work, of course). Seriously, I couldn't fathom a better partner. I am constantly--CONSTANTLY--being told how lucky I am to have him by everyone. He's that amazing. 

So what, then, could possibly be the only downside to the wee folk spending all that time in his embrace over the weekend? Wait for it...

THEY'RE SICK. Really and truly sick with a virulent cold virus for the first time EVER. They made it through two entire cold and flu seasons unscathed, and their second spring arrives with this. They are MISERABLE. Fevers, runny noses, congestion, horrible coughs, obviously achey and just plain SAD. 




Okay, seriously? What shit is that? I'm forced to wean my kids long before I had planned because of some lame infection, and they IMMEDIATELY get sick? OF COURSE they do. This is us. We have the very best of luck--and the very worst. We are just that cool. 

Oh, and it gets better. Ready? 

The Barbarian was OUT OF TOWN LAST NIGHT. 

HAHA! Isn't that hilarious? I mean, what's not funny about our very first night alone after emergency weaning falling only four days after the fact, and having the wee folk be wretchedly sick for it to boot? 

I'll tell you: EVERYTHING. Everything is not funny about this. Because I just spent one of the most trying nights of my life desperately attempting to catch hold of and keep a firm grip on sleep for two miserable tiny humans and one exhausted beyond words mama, and found it, of course, ever elusive. You know, fuck you, sleep. Seriously, what have you done for me lately? Fuck all, sleep. That's what. Fuck. All. Because our horrendous first night alone sans nursing, in which I maybe dozed in half hour increments here and there, ended at 4am this morning, and although they passed back out before 10am, they have been waking intermittently to cry and be completely inconsolable, so we are back in the glider and my hopes for a real nap have died a loud and protesting death.

So, yeah. That last post about being stuck in the glider while they napped and how sad and tragic everyone and everything had been for three days? KTA woke up from that very nap with a fever, The Goblin Queen followed suit a couple of hours later, and the past two days have just been insult added to injury. 

I just... I can't even with this nonsense. I can't even with this infection or this virus or this altered course forced upon us


Oh, and you know what else I can't even, now that we're on the subject? I can't even have a godsdamn drink to take the edge off my plight. No joke. Apparently nuclear bomb strength antibiotics and alcohol don't play well together in one's system. Who knew? So I haven't had a drink during this entire bout of asinine shenanigans, and I won't get to have one till next week. Obnoxious, right? 

BUT. The earth is currently getting a drink in our drought-stricken region of the world, and that makes me very, very happy. 

So have one (or five) for me, Mama Earth. You deserve it. 

I'll just be over here counting down the hours till The Barbarian gets home and giving myself pep talks. 

I won't throw tiny humans at him and run for the hills when he walks through the door...I won't throw tiny humans at him and run for the hills when he walks through the door...I won't throw tiny humans at him and run for the hills when he walks through the door... 

Monday, March 24, 2014

One day at a time

That's definitely how we're proceeding here. 

We are over 72 hours into our new life of no nursing, and I am happy to report we have all survived thus far.

But that's about the extent of the good news. We're surviving. Our thriving has been put on hold.

To say world-shattering sadness has ruled our house these past three days just doesn't even begin to describe our reality. Having my children beg for the most integral part of their lives thus far, the part only I can give them, yet the part they will now forever have to do without, is like nothing I've ever experienced. It's tragic. It's literally the worst thing ever.

Hyperbole, much? Yes. But? ALSO, YES.

I've chosen to be completely honest with them. I've explained that mama has an owie and has to take medicine that makes my milk yucky, so we can't nurse anymore. The first time I told them this, they really seemed to stop and attempt to process it, especially The Goblin Queen. And for a large chunk of that day, she would go to ask to nurse but actually stop herself as she remembered that she couldn't. It was pretty amazing. But as the day wore on into night, the surprisingly mature self-control waned, and that night, I experienced her scream and throw a fit--arching her little back and throwing herself around--like I have never witnessed before. 

It fucking SUCKED.

King Toad Agooga, on the other hand, is mostly just sad. So very, very sad. And his brand of sad is just heartbreaking. We always joked when they were super tiny that when he was unhappy, his cries just sounded SO sad and his little face just looked SO sad. It crushed your very soul to look at him and hear that pathetic sound. Yet TGQ just looked and sounded angry. Like an angry cat. Exactly like an angry cat, in fact. Doting parents that we are, we even called her that and frequently asked her why in the world she was just. so. angry. In these moments she's always reminded me of quite possibly my favourite Little Critter book (and I was a big fan), I Was So Mad. Funny that that was my favourite one. Hmmm. (Apparently her and I have a lot in common. I don't see it, of course, but this is what they tell me.)

These temperaments have remained the same and obviously affect the way they're dealing with this ultimate disruption in our lives. The very angry goblin screams. A lot. She screams at me specifically. Often when I hold her, she just sits in my lap facing me and screams at me. I let her. It's horrible. But I let her. I get it. I would scream at me, too. And the very sad toad cries and cries. He prefers The Barbarian to hold and cuddle him and put him to sleep. When he does let me hold him, he asks to nurse with a face full of hopefulness tinged with a knowing, a knowing that I'll say no. And when I do, he shakes his head violently, scrunches up his adorable face, turns his little body away from me, and utters his "engh, engh, engh" noise that signifies disagreement and disappointment. This happens a couple more times before he finally either gets down to find The Barbarian or, on rare occasions, actually lets me cuddle him. I always offer the cuddles. I tell him we can't nurse, but Mama will always cuddle him. ALWAYS.

I'm so happy when he lets me. I miss cuddling with them. I miss it SO much. It dawned on me yesterday how much we haven't cuddled these past few days. I mostly have to seek out the closeness now, and it's often, understandably, not good enough for them to just cuddle. It's too close to what they really want without being anywhere NEAR what they really want. It's almost offensive to them in some ways. And not taking it personally is an enormous struggle for me. I literally feel like they don't like me much of the time. Of course that's ridiculousness itself. But knowing that doesn't help that feeling go away. At all.

But I will say that things are getting easier as the days pass. They don't ask to nurse very much at all during the day now, and TGQ especially continues to go to ask and then stop herself. And KTA does look at the boobies sometimes and then force himself to look away without asking. I'm truly in awe of them.

Bedtime is hard, but not nearly as hard as mornings. Mornings are the absolute worst part of our day. They're sleeping impressively well overnight, but by about 6:30, they wake up for good and are immediately reminded that their nightmare is real. There's no nursing to wake up to. There will be no nursing all day. Ever again. So they cry and scream. A lot. 

And because this is the absolute most tragic part of their lives to date, I find myself wanting to spoil them and do things we don't normally do. They're allowed to watch shows or a movie when they get up now. It calms them down and helps take their minds off the sheer disappointment of waking up yet again to this stupid, unfair reality. Also, not having ever found a milk they like, I caved and bought some vanilla soy milk and was super stoked when they drank some. TGQ likes it much more than KTA, but we'll keep trying. And we started giving them bottles in the morning. No, I don't want them to get attached to bottles at 19 months, but in the midst of this upheaval, they can have some godsdamn bottles if they want. As I've mentioned, though, they've never been fans and KTA mostly wants nothing to do with it. TGQ, however, has taken to it a bit, and when I ask her if she wants milk, she nods and proceeds to play around with it and drink at least some. It makes me happy. It makes me feel better if she can find something to replace nursing. Even if it's the equivalent of being served a single shaving of chocolate in a plastic bottle cap when you were really in the mood for an entire fancy, layered chocolate cake on a sparkly platter. Because...clearly...boobs are like sparkly platters and breastmilk tastes like...chocolate? Whatever.  


Today is our first day without the constant presence and support of The Barbarian, and my small triumph thus far is the fact that I got them both to sleep on my own without nursing. Yay. We're, of course, now all stuck together in the glider because there's no way I can even attempt to get up and transfer them without them waking and crying. But you know what? 

I'll fucking take it.

One day at a time, folks.

One. Day. At. A. Time.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thank you, FeedBurner

Dearest Subscribers,

Of course, shortly after changing the settings and having the title of the post added as the subject line of your email, I decide to use a bit of naughty language in the post title. And seeing as FeedBurner formats it to then also be the heading of the actual content of the email and displays it yet again as the clickable title of the post, what you see in the brief blurb in your inbox (as well as the actual email) is it repeated three times. Lovely. At least there can be no question as to how I truly feel about diverticulitis, though, eh?

Most of you know by now that I use "bad" words sometimes. Occasionally. Or a lot. Either way, it is what it is and I'm sure most of you don't care in general. This is also my blog and, of course, I get to use whatever kind of language I want. I don't apologize for that. As the saying goes, I'm a lady with the vocabulary of a well-educated sailor. It happens.

What I do apologize for is having it sort of thrown in your face like that if it's not something you're comfortable with. I realize it could be a bit off-putting for some. And while it's not something I normally do in a post title, I'm sure it will on rare occasions happen. So again, my apologies. But it was fitting and I do stand by that assessment. Especially this challenging next morning. Sigh. 

And I could have emailed you all, but as you're often the only ones who read these, I made a whole post about it just for you. Because I love you. Simple. 

As always, thanks for reading! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fuck diverticulitis

I nursed my babies for the last time this morning.

And I am feeling broken. And incredibly sad. And angry. Very, very angry. 

I started having abdominal pain in the mornings on Sunday, but by Wednesday, it was lasting all day and getting worse by the hour. Wednesday night I had to leave the wee folk with The Barbarian and escape to the guest bed, where little knees and feet weren't bumping into my belly, and where the softer bed cradled my poor, painful midsection a bit more gently. 

Not being a fan of going to the doctor in the slightest, I had finally caved at The Barbarian's insistence and made an appointment Wednesday afternoon for Thursday morning. Nana Banana came and stayed with The Goblin Queen and King Toad Agooga while I went, and having gone over the symptoms with Dr. Google, I wasn't entirely surprised when, after the exam, the nurse practitioner suggested diverticulitis as the cause of my extreme discomfort. What did come as a shock, though, was the pronouncement, after she conferred with several colleagues and researched for 15 minutes in an attempt to come up with a better solution, that there was absolutely no way around taking two specific antibiotics, neither of which are okay to take while nursing.

Ummm, I'm sorry. WHAT? I have some random, surprise infection, and I just have to STOP nursing? Just like that? Not over the course of a week or two...or even a few days? Just...immediately? Immediately stop nursing two toddlers, to whom I won't really even be able to explain what's happening or why? Immediately stop nursing two toddlers who depend on nursing to go to sleep? Immediately stop nursing two toddlers or forgo treatment and most likely land in the hospital and potentially need surgery? What the actual fuck?    

The only other option I had, then, was to pump and dump the milk for at least 10 days (and probably longer to make sure it was all out of my system) in order to keep my supply while I simultaneously weaned my children COLD TURKEY in the interim. At first I thought I could handle that, but as I waited the remainder of yesterday and overnight for the lab results (I wanted to be absolutely certain I did, indeed, have diverticulitis before beginning the antibiotics, even though she was almost positive of the diagnosis and urged me to start them as soon as possible), I really struggled with whether I was willing and prepared to do that. 

TGQ and KTA still nurse/d frequently--like way more than many toddlers their age. Only for the past couple of weeks have they gotten used to not nursing from after the time they fall asleep at night till about 4:30am. Other than that stretch, they're generally nursing every 1-2 hours still and for the entirety of their nap. So going from that to nothing is going to be extremely challenging. On ALL of us. Add to that me stealing away several times a day to pump? Because I sure as hell can't do it in front of them. And add to that the fact that I HATE PUMPING? Like SO MUCH. I hardly ever even pumped when they were younger so others could give them bottles (we were all on the same page, though--they hated bottles as much as I hated pumping). And then what happens when we start up again in a couple of weeks? What happens if they become even more obsessed than they are/were with it now/before? I seriously couldn't handle that. Or what if I go through all that pumping and dumping and they decide they're just done anyway? No thanks, Mama. We're good. DUDE. Dude. 

Do I want to wean my children right now, at 19 months, when I had every intention of nursing them for two years? NO. No, I do not. Do I want to wean them coldfuckingturkey? NO. I MOST CERTAINLY DO NOT. But those labs came back this morning and they were NOT good. I had no option but to start some hardcore antibiotics immediately. And I just... I just don't think I have it in me to pump for the next couple of weeks. And that devastates me. Completely and wholly DEVASTATES me. 

I wanted weaning to be on OUR terms in OUR time. BUT, if I am being totally honest...a large part of me is feeling very, very done nursing two toddlers. Toddlers are generally extremely abusive of the boobie privilege, and mine are no different. Their nursing manners are atrocious. They are downright OBNOXIOUS about it sometimes. Our sessions often end these days with me abruptly announcing we're ALL DONE, swatting them away, and jumping up in exasperation. Seriously. But to never again have them snuggle in close to nurse in utter contentment, one tucked cosily under each arm, falling asleep peacefully that way when they're tired, the way they have for the overwhelming majority of their sleeps thus far in their tiny little lives? Am I ready to give that up today

No. I'm not. 

But I did.

I nursed my babies for the last time this morning.

Fuck diverticulitis. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Inaugural crazy-making week

Well, I had an idea to do a daily document of this week of firsts, but due to the very nature of said week, that didn't happen. I am forgiving myself, however, because my gods, people. This was a WEEK.

The special circumstances surrounding this past week? The Barbarian was decidedly missing. Far, far away. In Texas. All week. Or, well, close enough. Before we're up Tuesday morning till after we're in bed Friday night counts as all week in my book.  

Why, you might ask? Why would The Barbarian leave his tiny goblin and tiny toad and larger-than-average dear wife (I mean, let's call it what it is, right? And on that note, King Toad Agooga would actually be quite a large toad, wouldn't he? Hmmm...) for an entire week? There are very few legitimate reasons he would do this, and this was about the most legitimate of all.

Work. The Barbarian left us for work. And this, my friends, constitutes one of those major changes I mentioned the other day. The Barbarian now travels for work. A lot. Like, potentially every other week, he'll be gone for a significant amount of time. Some months he may be home one week, gone the next, home the next, and gone the following. That kind of a lot.

Deciding for him to take this new job took serious deliberation, as it came with an extensive list of pros and cons. We lost our ridiculously awesome benefits, including our health insurance (which was so fantastic, I can't even begin to describe--and for which we paid a small fraction of the premium), our stock options, our generous 401k plan, our employee discounts, and The Barbarian's company car. So our overhead has gone way, way up. Health insurance entirely out-of-pocket, a new car payment, along with maintenance, insurance, and registration costs for the vehicle, paying a larger percentage of our income into savings and retirement in order to keep on track, etc. AND the wee folk and I now find ourselves on our own, which, as you can imagine, is...huge. And scary. And overwhelming. And many, many other adjectives of that nature. And The Barbarian has to be far away from his babies, and that's just plain heartbreaking. I can't even fathom it. It's hard enough on my end having him gone, but to be the one far away and not get to hold them and cuddle them and kiss them and watch their silly antics? UGH.  

But on the other side, assuming all goes well, we will see a significant increase in income, and The Barbarian now works for a small, local, highly successful and well-respected company, who takes phenomenal care of their employees and promotes a work ethic that follows the ideal of working to live, not living to work. They work hard and they play hard. And that's freaking awesome. And he now has a REAL PEOPLE SCHEDULE. For over 10 years, he hasn't had a weekend off unless he's taken vacation for it, and THAT FUCKING SUCKS. We were the couple who could never make it to ANYTHING, and if we did, he had to go in early, leave early, and we were still always late (in addition to an odd day-of-the-week schedule, it was also an odd time-of-the-day schedule, shifted much later than most people's workday--which had its benefits when we were childless, for sure, but meant he was coming home not long before the wee folks' bedtime some nights, and that sucked). AND we couldn't even watch football together on Sundays. Like, seriously. What the shit is that? BULLSHIT. That's what that is. 

But the real deciding factor on the pro side for us is the fact that this position is fun, challenging, and rewarding for The Barbarian. His old job was basically static, with very little, if any, change, and absolutely zero chance for mobility. It was rote, it was boring, and it was infuriating (working with the public has that effect, no?). And his happiness at and with his work trumps all the benefits we lost and the fact that we now have a new reality, one that will take some serious getting used to, but will become easier as time goes on (PLEASE, GODS, SAY IT WILL). We can handle this. At least, I'm pretty sure we can. Many families do, right? And it's not like he's leaving for months at a time as some parents are forced to. Military families? You have my utmost and sincere respect. That I'm not sure I could handle. At all.

So my necessary mindset about it, then, is that now we'll have less actual time together as a family, but the time we do have together will be precious and, therefore, of more intense, better quality. Because one of the areas where The Barbarian and I are similar is in our lack of motivation to actually, you know, do stuff. We are serious homebodies and are seriously into just chilling. So basically, we're lazy. As I've mentioned. But we have kids now, and we don't necessarily want to model that (all the time). And going out and doing stuff as a family is freaking awesome and so much fun. And now we can take advantage of stuff like fairs and festivals and all that fun shit that happens on the weekend. We fully intend to, too.

So, with all that as background (I tend to give a lot of background in the telling of things--you either love it or you hate it), my point with this whole post is to let you all know that we did, in fact, survive our first big business trip. Perhaps not with flying colours, but in the appropriate number of pieces and with nearly all sanity intact.

But my gods, was it intense. As anyone who has spent an entire day caring for tiny humans knows, it takes A LOT to keep it together, and by the late afternoon, I am SERIOUSLY counting down the hours and eventually the minutes until The Barbarian walks through the door. Knowing the calvary is not coming to relieve you changes everything. It takes some major mental focus and power to push through the point at which you are normally ready to run as fast as humanly possible out the front door as your horde of wee folk assault your husband arriving through the back door, and hope no one notices and comes looking for you. And your reward for pushing through this point? The most challenging part of day--dinner and bedtime--to be performed solo. Solo, and seriously outnumbered. THEN, you get to wake up and do it all over again. Several times in a row.


Oh! AND we're currently in the throes of night-weaning! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!! I mean, that affords me extra props for handling this as well as I did, right? Because, man, you don't even want to know what our nights were like. Or at what time our days began. Let's just say none of it was ideal. In the SLIGHTEST. I'll leave the rest up to the imagination. (Hint: Imagine the worst...or at least, the really, really terrible--do it.)  

But by far the most gut-wrenching part of this week occurred the morning after The Barbarian's arrival, as The Goblin Queen, Daddy's Girl, worked through her very big, very deep feelings about having him gone for so long. She was SO torn over wanting him to hold her and clearly being extremely upset with him. There were lots and lots of tears (not just from her), and when she finally allowed him to cuddle her, she just melted into his shoulder and talked quietly to herself and to him for a few minutes as she tried to process it all. It was one of the saddest things I have ever witnessed in my life. It broke my heart. Very, very much so. I can't even imagine what it did to The Barbarian's.

So this is where we stand. It hit me the night of the second to last day that here I was steeling myself to just keep it together a little longer, to hang in there until the weekend, when he'd be home and we'd be back to our normal routine--yet we were just going to have to turn around and do it again. And again. And again. It really brought our new reality home, as you can imagine something all you want, but until you're in it, you really have no fucking clue.

But the only way to effectively handle it is to see it as a challenge, right? We've GOT this. Eventually, my husband will come home from a weeklong business trip and I'll be waiting in heels and pearls, perfectly coiffed, his slippers and drink in my hands, a smile on my face, the children quietly attending to puzzles in the corner, the expertly groomed dogs sitting statuesque beside the children, the smell of pot roast wafting from the oven...

You just wait.


As the post title may imply, I've been tweaking my FeedBurner feed. Turns out, the default settings are not entirely awesome. Go figure, eh?

The most helpful post about such things I stumbled upon spoke of "optimizing" one's FeedBurner feed. And when I think of optimizing, I think of Optimus Prime (as any tomboy from the 80's worth her weight would). And when I think of Optimus Prime, I think of phenomenal awesomeness. And when I think of phenomenal awesomeness, I think of myself. And when I think of myself, I think of my blog. So, see? It all makes perfect sense. 

Among other features, the main thing I wanted to tweak was in order to be completely and totally obnoxious--I'm now forcing all you dear, lovely subscribers to actually visit my blog in order to read my fantastic nonsense in its entirety. I know, I know. Told you it was obnoxious. But I like to be able to see how many people visit the site, as, for a SAHP, every hit feels almost like an actual interaction with another adult. Almost. Close enough.

So if nothing else gets posted today, this will at least serve as a way to ascertain whether I made all these changes successfully. Because, well, tech and I have a way of not really seeing eye to eye sometimes. Shocking, I know. 

See you all at the blog, then, suckas! 

(I hope...)   

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I heart cooking

So much.

Like, seriously. SO. MUCH.

And it always totally bums me out when I hear that people don't like to cook. It's the same way I feel when people say they hate history. WAT. My mind just cannot comprehend. I just feel so sad for them. Because cooking and history are AWESOME. Trust me on this. Both counts.

Cooking in particular (because this post is about cooking, not history--much to your insane disappointment, I'm sure) is super freaking awesome mostly because it's so damn rewarding. And it can be such a fantastic creative outlet, especially once you're beyond the stage of needing to follow recipes for every meal. Once you learn what goes with what and which flavours complement each other, and how to turn the randomness in your fridge, freezer, and pantry into a scrumptious meal, the possibilities are endless--as is the boost in confidence and self-esteem with every contented sigh erupting around the dinner table. (Do sighs technically erupt? Hmmm.)

We all have to start somewhere, though, and I was more than halfway through my twenties before my cooking journey really began. I had had a penchant for baking since I was a young girl, and I could cook basic things pretty well and follow recipes just fine. But both my mom and my sister COOK. And bake, man. Those two are ridiculous in the kitchen. And I was not of that caliber for a long time. And honestly, I worked full-time and ate out very regularly. I think back to how much I ate out when I worked, and it's astonishing compared to how much we eat out now. But really, that's the thing with making more money, right? You make more, you spend more. You make less, you do with less. This is not, of course, to say that some don't actually make enough money to comfortably live on. This is the States. A LOT of people are currently, depressingly in that position. But for those of us existing in that shifty, multi-defined (but undeniably shrinking) realm that is the "middle class," it's truly phenomenal how much you can cut expenditures and still live comfortably, and ultimately, happily.

It took us a loooooong time before we felt we could handle the transition to one income, but we've been living quite well on one for a few years now. And a large part of that success is indeed the choices ("sacrifices," some might call them, but please--we're not talking foregoing entire meals so our children can eat, like more people than we like to think about are doing in this world) we've made in terms of our priorities. Do we enjoy letting other people cook and serve us our food? HELLS YES, WE DO. But is it worth me working and letting someone else raise our kids so we can do that regularly? Ummmm, no. No, it isn't. Not at all. But we're lucky. I get that. Not everyone can make it work, but I have to say that I know quite a few families our age who are making that work--in California, of all places. And that makes me very, very happy.

So, right. Cooking. If I was someone who professed to hate cooking, this would never work. Buying prepared and convenience foods is freaking expensive compared to the cost of buying basic ingredients and going from there. But luckily I found myself, in my mid-twenties, with the time and inclination to devote to learning to cook. I started with one food blog I stumbled across and really liked (and whose author was based not far from my home, in the capital of my home state, something that made my living-over-4700-miles-away-in-another-country self happy) and lots and lots of phone calls to my mama. But I slowly built my repertoire (and my herb and spice collection), and within a year, I was ALL ABOUT COOKING. And it really didn't take long before I was ready to ditch the recipes all the time and just do my own thing, my preferred method to this day. I get a bit nervous when people ask for my recipes, because I'm all, oh, ummmmm, sure... Are you okay with weird, approximate measurements and rambling directions...? No?

And while I do like and appreciate fancy, involved recipes and meals, I find myself marveling over the super simple, easy ones we rely on as staples week after week, and wondering that everyone doesn't cook like this most every night. I realize that when you've been doing it for a while, you make it look easy to someone intimidated just by the very idea of cooking from scratch. But I think the basics of cooking delicious, wholesome meals for yourself and your family is way easier than most people in that position imagine. In fact, I know it is.

The Barbarian and I were discussing this the other night after one of our weekly go-to meals--baked chicken with quinoa and some random veggie I'm not remembering at the moment (the days run together around these parts--hard to believe, I'm sure, but so very true). Yes, I realize to the uninitiated, that meal may sound supremely boring, but I assure you, it is scrumptious. AND SO EASY.

One of the easiest ways to prepare food, in my opinion, is to fancy it up a bit and throw it in the oven. We do this A LOT. It's especially great for meats/fish and hearty veggies. And the method is the same for both: Place in a baking dish, drizzle or toss with some oil or butter, sprinkle with some mixture of salt/pepper/seasonings, put it in the oven, set the timer, and walk away. (...bwahahahahahahahaaaa!! Makes it sound like I just waltz off and kick my feet up on the couch with a cocktail or some shit while dinner cooks. I kill me.)

But truly, that's it. Have a grain simmering away on the stove and call it done. Or dinner. You can call it what it is. Transparency in the kitchen is not a bad thing, per se.

So, specifics, for those interested. Because I am seriously on a mission to make this whole thing less scary, people. OKAY? (And if you're like me, you're hearing Sigourney Weaver's voice in your head... "Look, I have ONE job on this lousy ship, it's STUPID, but I'm gonna do it. OKAY?")

Also, yes, I'm a big, fat nerd.

But speaking of fats! Fats are important. Don't forget. They make everything tasty. We eat quite a bit of butter because we don't think saturated fat is the devil--and because it's RIDICULOUS in the yum factor department. I mean, am I wrong? But I do cook with oils a lot and my go-to is grapeseed. It has a fairly high smoke point and a mild taste that lends itself well to just about anything. Avocado is another favourite. It has an even higher smoke point and deliciously mild flavour. We use it as a topping in place of butter on things like quinoa, too. The wee folk love it like this. And of course I use olive oil as well, but really not as much as I used to. Mostly just when I want that specific flavour, so for salads and dipping bread and sautéing at low heat, etc.

Seasonings can be a place where one's eyes glaze over a bit and a cold sweat breaks out on said one's forehead. I get that. There are so. many. But what's key is to learn a few flavour combos and go from there, as they can be added to or tweaked for many other things. One of the very first combinations I tried and realized was a fantastic base for so many things is garlic salt and lemon pepper. Seriously, just topping something with those two is a win. The other go-to I use is herbs de Provence, as it's delicious on just about anything. Put those three together and you are well on your way to amazingness in the oven. Add a few other things, and magic begins to happen.

So, for chicken, atop my drizzled fat of choice, I am currently often doing:

-garlic salt (or just granulated garlic and salt, as I'm out of garlic salt and have a huge thing of granulated)
-lemon pepper (or, again, this Flower Pepper blend from TJ's because I am out of their lemon pepper, and their pepper blends are the best and should most definitely be explored)
-herbs de Provence
-a little extra parsley (because I. love. parsley.)
-dry mustard (I use this for a lot of meat and poultry dishes)
-and a splash of fresh lemon juice (fresh lemon and lime juice make everything better)

I bake it at 425 for half an hour or so, and voila.

For fish (salmon, tilapia, etc.), which I almost always use butter for:

-garlic salt
-lemon pepper
-red pepper flakes
-fresh lemon

I bake it at 500 for 8-10min, and finish it off out of the oven, covered in foil. So, so good. Oh, and for an easy homemade tartar sauce, I mix mayo with a spicy/flavourful mustard (The Barbarian is partial to Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale mustard), fresh lemon juice, parsley, and dill. I don't eat the stuff, but The Barbarian loves it and swears this version I randomly concocted one night is bomb. I wouldn't know, but there you have it.

For veggies like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, etc.:

-garlic salt
-lemon pepper
-herbs de Provence

Bake at 400 for half an hour or so--you want the outer bits basically burnt, as that adds amazing flavour. Oh, and as an aside, this was the exact preparation used when The Goblin Queen gobbled up all that broccoli the other night. Now you know.

And like I mentioned, we eat grains or potatoes with just butter or avocado oil and some salt/pepper, or I'll sometimes dress them up beforehand. Couscous is delicious with some olive oil or butter, salt, toasted pine nuts, and golden raisins (add the oil/butter and salt in with the water to boil and the rest with the couscous). Pilafs are also easy and fabulous. For quinoa, I'll sauté/brown the dried quinoa with some shallots and garlic and maybe pine nuts (I love pine nuts...a lot...the best, maybe?) first, then add broth and cover and simmer like normal. Mmmmmm.

Also, I'm not gonna lie--we do frozen veggies like corn and peas regularly because why the hell not? They are not expensive (Trader Joe's seriously wins here), have most of their nutrient profile intact (I think frozen green beans actually have an increase in nutrients?), and they keep. Oh, AND. I normally cook them in the microwave. GASP. I know. Killing my family. Or something.

There, then, is a rather long, rambling explanation of why I love cooking and how you, too, can take part in this epic adventure happening in kitchens everywhere with minimal stress and work.

So please join us. We have cookies.