Thursday, April 3, 2014

On my mind...It's still winter.

  • I don't even really have the energy to write because we are bracing for more snow and I feel as though I should be under my covers hibernating.
  • It's still winter here, even though the calendar says spring. 
  • Our computer is about ready to die.
  • No one is surprised; it is a dinosaur and we got it used at least 7 years ago.
  • Someone is annoyed.  And feeling cheap and not wanting to expend the finances that it will take to get a new one.
  • I have dumped everything onto our external hard drive, but it's not hooked up to Uriah's computer, so I don't have access to pictures.
  • I've been using Uriah's but by the time he gets home in the evening, I'd rather hang out with him than write. 
  • My feet are cold.
  • I have been reading like a crazy person, so many good books are out right now or are about to come out.
  • My Amazon wish list is giant.
  • I'm still navigating e-readers through our library.  It is an asinine system to search for books and I find myself annoyed and frustrated when I do it.  There has to be an easier way.
  • I've been watching some questionable Netflix shows lately.  The kind that do not stimulate the mind but hook you anyway? 
  • We are only a few episodes into the new season of House of Cards (also on Netflix, not questionable at all).  We are trying to spread the season out as we watched the first season in about 2 weeks. 
  • I'm ready to start going to antique stores and flea markets and junk shows. 
  • I have an absurd amount of furniture in the cottage just waiting to be painted this spring.
  • I've also been sifting and sorting through some of the boxes that we haven't looked at since we moved.
  • I realize that we moved almost two years ago.  Boxes just full of surprises, I tell you!
  • Finn's favorite game to play is hide and seek. 
  • I jumped out and scared him one time when I was hiding and he was seeking and it was so funny.  Seriously, he did this little dance jump and some jazz hands and he might have almost tinkled a little. Now he has to remind me every day not to scare him. I feel kind of bad about that, actually.
  • But it hasn't stopped him from wanting to play hide and seek one trillion times a day.
  • And just so you know, there are only so many places to hide in this house.
  • Abby's play is almost ready to perform.
  • To hear her talk about it the whole thing is a master flop and no one knows their cues and someone will have to stand off stage and feed everyone their lines for the entirety of the performance.
  • She is such a drama queen.
  • We have a baby sitter for Finn for 2 nights (extravagant) and I think Uriah and I are going to go out on a dinner date before we go to the show (also extravagant).
  • Family galore is coming into town to see her big theater debut.  I can't wait.  I miss my mom. And my Dad.  And my sister.  And my brother.  And my aunties.  And Ady. 
  • I'm trying to adjust my diet because I'm caught in a rut.  It is not good.  Not good at all.
  • I've been webMD-ing myself and I can assure you, I have a multitude of ailments.
  • Do not diagnose yourself using webMD unless you want to entertain the though that you might be susceptible to the Ebola virus, mad-cow disease, H1N1 and the Bird Flu, malfunctioning organs and acne.
  • It's time to make dinner and I've already put Finn in his jammies so this night can just roll right along in a smooth manner.
  • You know...the faster to bed, the quicker we can wake up and shovel another foot of snow.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On granola and spring.

Winter is groaning on and on and on.  I am certainly envious of the pictures of spring break and spring I see on Facebook and Instagram.  I want spring.  I want tulips and the start of grass and pretty purple crocuses easing their way out of the ground, and in lieu of all of that in my own back yard, I'd take a vacation someplace warm and tropical.

My yard is still covered with feet and feet of snow, and probably will be for some time...long past the start of spring in a few weeks, maybe even right up until the first day of summer.  And so I'm breathing deeply this week, reminding myself that there is beauty in the snow sparkling in the sunshine.  There is something primitive about the icicles hanging sharply from the roof.  We can still snuggle up in the afternoon, under a blanket and with some hot cocoa and be content to hibernate a little bit longer.  Summer brings busyness and gardening and the lake and vacations.  Right now, we can move a little bit slower, simmer soup a little bit longer, enjoy the days with nothing to running, no errands, no appointments...and instead we can read books and play games and build train tracks that use every ounce of our imagination and ingenuity.  We can spend an afternoon covered in flour, making cookies and singing and stopping for the occasional dance party.

I pulled out my granola recipe last week; actually, I pulled out two granola recipes and kind of married them into one beautiful, easy granola.  I feel sort of hippie when I make granola, and last week was no exception. Finn helped me mix it together using the bits and pieces that I found in our drawers and I had a little Minnesota honey left, so it smelled like spring as it was baking.  I kept it on the counter to cool and crisp up and I couldn't stop snacking on it.  It's delicious on yogurt and even more amazing in these cookies.  I've made these cookies before just the way the recipe reads, but this time I omitted the apricots and blueberries (because I didn't have any) and used the dried cherries and pomegranates that I also used in the granola instead.  I also added a half cup of chocolate chips (because I did have those!) and I used the granola we'd just made.  Finn helped me roll the cookies into balls, but next time I will flatten them a little bit.  These are seriously so good.  I might have given them the blessing to be breakfast cookies - because granola and dried fruit is totally breakfast food, right?

Spring is coming. The windows will open and the fresh air - cool, but not cold - will clean out the stale smell of winter.  Our days will be full of gardening and walking and just being outside.  Until then I've been motivated to dive into closets and cupboards and drawers; cleaning and organizing and purging.  We can't be outside right now, not really when the temperatures still plummet below zero, but when the ground thaws and the green peeks and the tulips reach up out of the dark, we will be there waiting and watching and sighing with relief.

Cherry Granola
  • 2 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup dried pomegranates
  • 1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Mix the oats, nuts and fruit in a large bowl.  On the stove top, bring the butter, honey and oil just to a boil; pour over the oat mixture and stir to coat completely.
Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven for 15 minutes.  Stir and bake another 5-10 minutes longer, just until brown.  Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack stirring occasionally and breaking up larger chunks.  Store in sealed container for up to 2 weeks. 

*Use whatever dried fruit you have/like: raisins, craisins, apricots, dried blueberries.  Same with the nuts: you can substitute walnuts or almonds, I've even done a mixture of nuts if I have some random quantities to use up.

Friday, February 28, 2014

On Family Court & Deadbeat Moms

I cried after court this week.

Yes, we went to court again.  Yes, we're dealing with Abby's mom again.  And yes, I don't talk about it too much for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is that this is a very personal family issue and I grew up in a house where family issues stay in the family; and also because this is Abby's story and she has an opinion and feelings and I sometimes don't feel like it's my place to parade the junky parts of our life out there for God and everyone.

This time it's different and I'm not sure why, but it feels like I have to get this all out and off of my chest because I feel like I'm suffocating.  For years my most fervent desire was to find someone like me. Someone who is busy raising a kid that's not her own; a kid that she has no responsibility to other than the responsibility she puts on herself. Someone who understands me when I say that raising this child that I didn't grow - who I've really only known for about 7 years (and they've been tumultuous at best, downright impossible at the worst.) is easily the single hardest thing I've ever done.  Sometimes it feels like teaching an old dog new tricks and that it's easy to disassociate because she isn't "technically" my responsibility.

I don't have a legal stake in Abby, but I'm emotionally and financially involved in all of the things that make up the nuances of her life.  I've scrimped and saved for her. I've laid awake in bed at night discussing her. I've agonized over her decisions and I've celebrated her successes. I taught her how to shave her legs and I explained periods and boys and sometimes I advise her on her hair or make-up. I buy her school clothes and supplies and I make her lunch every morning. I drive her to and from sporting events and play practice; I cheer in the bleachers and in the auditorium. I go to her band concerts and her choir concerts and her plays and her volleyball games. I advocate on her behalf. I take her to the doctor's office and schedule her follow-up appointments and pay her co-pays. I sat outside and prayed during every single therapy session she's ever had. I wash her clothes and try not to make a huge deal out of her incredibly messy room.  I make sure she is fed, that she goes to church and learns about God and that she understands that her brother is not her half-brother, he's just her brother. I make sure she has chores so she learns responsibility, but I try to let her be a kid because she grew up really, really fast and all these years later, Uriah and I still mourn that; but we don't regret it.

In the grand scheme of all of the times we went to court on Abby's behalf - on our family's behalf - this week's hearing was very, very minor.  And yet it was huge.  Abby's mom requested a change of child-support.  She wants to pay nothing.  She wants to have zero financial obligation to her child.  No child support. No medical bills. And the sad thing is that, based on her "testimony," the court will probably side with her because that's actually how the law is written.

And so I cried in the car, in our driveway, after biting my tongue for the half-hour hearing because I wanted to scream to everyone in that court room that this whole thing is a big farce; it's a classic case of fake and dodge responsibility, which, based on our involvement with Abby's mom, is pretty much her M.O.

The thing is: Uriah and I can obviously support Abby without any financial help.  We've been doing just that for the 5 years that Abby's been living with us full-time.  And in 5 years, we haven't pursued help from any outside financial institution - not for medical help, not to enforce the child-support obligation that is owed. This doesn't make us awesome nor does it put us on a pedestal; it simply means that we've buckled down and done what needed to be done to raise our kids, it just so happens that one of our kids technically only belongs to half of us. But I don't believe in that technicality.  I worked a full-time job to make sure Abby's summer programs and after-school care were paid for. I made sure she got to her Girl Scout meetings and that she was able to play volleyball. And now I stay at home as much for Finn as I do for Abby, to drive her to and from school; to make sure she has dinner ready before she goes to her activities and that she doesn't have to eat alone or be home alone or have the obligation of constantly watching out for her little brother. I stay home so that there is always someone here for her when she needs us - phone call from school for tylenol for cramps or a request to stay after and be picked up later to get some work done.

I don't want to have to explain to Abby that once again, her mom wants nothing to do with her. She doesn't call, she doesn't write, and now she doesn't even want to support her from afar.

And I don't want to rant about Deadbeat Moms. I don't want to feel like the justice system is slanted - and not in our favor, which it doesn't need to be but I do think that it needs to be more balanced in general. I don't want to have to deal with the anxiety and annoyance that comes with listening to someone sing her own song of "poor me."

And so I cried in the car. It's easy to be frustrated when things don't look the way we'd like them to or when things follow a path that we think isn't the correct path.  I cried to clear my mind and my heart so that I can see more clearly this new path that is opening up to us.

I can see a little more clearly now that this has potential to be just what we didn't know we always needed.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Let's Pretend It's Spring! (Psych! It's really just another winter storm!)

We played this little game last week called, "Let's Pretend It's Spring!"

The weather got up to 39 degrees two days in a row and it was like a little bit of heaven on our white, frozen tundra.  Uriah and I decided to fully embrace the warm weather by wearing only sweatshirts outside - we were bold: no hats, no mittens; although I did cheat and wear a scarf.  Finn obviously was not allowed to play outside without his full winter-gear, but we did forego his hood and scarf.  The sun was shining, the snow was melting, it totally felt like spring.  I stood in the sunshine, the warm, warm sunshine and I figured that stupid groundhog was full of shit about his shadow and spring and 6 more weeks of never-ending-winter, so we cleaned the snow off of the grill and used it 2 nights in a row!  I'd forgotten how good grilling is...the clean up is so minimal.  I love that.

The downside is that the warm-ish weather causes snow to get sloppy and that gets tracked into the house and I tried really hard not to care was warm and spring-like!  I can handle a little melty, dirty snow on the kitchen floor if it means we can open windows (we did not, by the way, open any windows. Uriah was firm on that one.).  We came to the conclusion that everyone needs new rain boots before spring hits full-force; I really do hate having wet feet and wet pants legs and Finn wore holes in his boots last spring/summer/fall.  I'm not really sure why I didn't throw them away when I did fall cleaning.  The warmer weather also makes snow pants much wetter much sooner; and I resorted to putting his outside clothes in the dryer rather than on the radiator because Finn wanted to play outside often and dry clothes are necessary.

Then, you know...reality hit and we got 12 million feet of snow on Thursday night (actually is was more like 12 inches, but it all feels the same) and school was cancelled on Friday and our grill is once again a snow white mound in the back yard. No more grilling for awhile; back to coats and hats and mittens and boots. I plan to go to Home Depot next week to buy some grass seed.  I'm going to plant it and watch it grow and run my fingers though it because based on the height of the snow piles in my back yard, I will not see grass until at least June.  We might even be able to have a sledding party for Finn's birthday in July.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Bath

Nothing says "Happy Valentine's Day!" quite like a three-and-a-half year old crapping his pants and and apologizing "because I was playing too hard," trying to clean it up himself "because I'm a big boy, Mama!" And then having to spend your morning disinfecting the entire bathroom because, honestly, his idea of cleanliness just doesn't cut it.

Oh, and I stepped in some poo.  Barefoot.

I love my kid.  I love my life.  But seriously?  Wtf?!