Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One year old

(Insert sappy post about how I cannot believe my baby is all grown up and about how wonderful and sweet she is and how full she makes our lives.)

just born

one week old

four months old

six months old

seven months old

eight months old

nine months old

eleven months old

Happy first birthday, Madeline! We really do love you; I just will not write a normal 1st birthday post. Yeah, your mom is a rebel.

But we really do love and adore you.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I don't want every day to become everyday

Once upon a time, I was an English teacher. One of the very practical things I learned was the difference between every day and everyday. "Every day" refers to the frequency of an event. "Everyday" means commonplace.

People have said that when your kids are young, the days are long and the years are short. This. is. so. true.  I want take a moment and preserve the days when my kids were young.

Every day, I go into Coralie's room to get her up.

Then she goes into Madeline's room to get her up.

Here's the happy baby!

Coralie says, "Good morning, sugar bum! How did you sleep?"

Madeline giggles and reaches for Coralie. Each girl gets dressed, and then we eat breakfast.

 Here, it's scrambled eggs with cheese and ham. And bread. Not even toasted, the poor girls.
Then the girls play in Coralie's room. Coralie calls it "making a mess" because they dump out her cubes full of toys. Then Madeline starts eating on one of Coralie's toys, and Coralie starts stuffing junk into her purses. It's exhilarating play.

 These are from a few days ago so the outfits are different, but the play is the same.

One day, the girls will roll out of bed on their own and come into the kitchen fully dressed in their goth outfits and snarl at me as I set bowls out for them on the counter. Then they will chew loudly and grab their purses and breeze out the door on their way to school. As I nurse my wounds of being ignored, I will remember the days when we played together and spent all morning making messes in Coralie's bright, happy room.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The fighting, oh the fighting

We have an attitude-policeman in our home. It's Coralie.

Say Ryan and I are arguing (I know, it's hard to believe, but stick with me here) and I accidentally use a sharp tone of voice with him. Coralie will immediately pipe up and say, "Mom, don't talk to my dad like that! Why are you being mean to him?"

I raise my eyebrows behind her back and Ryan rejoices.

I explain very patiently, "Coralie, I wasn't being mean to Daddy. We were just having a discussion."

Coralie replies, "Well, don't have a discussion! He's a professional and he loves you very much."

Ryan then starts pumping the air, which effectively ends the argument.

It doesn't matter who started the fight, or whether or not Ryan is "being mean" to me. Coralie will simply not tolerate a harsh tone of voice from me. We have had this same scenario play out at least three times over the past month or so, which has turned this phenomenon into a pattern.

Yesterday at lunch, I was tired. I was putting food on Madeline's tray, but I guess I wasn't chipper enough for Coralie, because she said, "Mom, why are you not smiling at Madeline?"

For heaven's sake, Coralie. I can't even have a discussion with your father because "he's a professional and he loves me very much", and now I can't feed Madeline without a smile plastered on my face? You have pretty high standards for me, kid. Remember, I am the baby of my family and therefore am allowed to be moody. So back off.

(Also, I love you.)

And before any of you feel sorry for Coralie that she lives in a home where the parents fight all the time, stop right there. We don't fight all the time, not even close. And we don't really raise our voices. Well, okay, we do sometimes, but it's just because Ryan thinks the louder he talks the smarter his ideas are, and I just have to drown out his stupid ideas with a louder response.

Love ya, babe.  : D

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Babysitting dads

This post has been rattling in my brain for quite awhile, and I finally decided to be disciplined and write it. But you should know I am kicking and screaming and dreaming of eating cookies instead while I do so.

So, two weeks ago I read an article written by a dad (maybe on parenting.com?) who gets frustrated when he takes the kids to the store and people say things like, "Aww, are you giving Mommy the night off?" or "Wow, Dad's babysitting tonight!" The author said that he takes his kids with him when he goes to the store because they're his kids. And they belong with him. He's not borrowing them from their mom or just biding his time until she swoops in and parents again. He is the dad; if he needs to go to the store, the kids go with him. Period.

I loved hearing his thoughts on dads being with kids. For some reason, I have a warped sense of fatherhood. To be clear, Ryan is a GREAT dad. He plays with the girls every day, reads them books, cuts up their food into appropriately-sized bites, refills their milk, changes diapers and wipes bottoms, and disciplines and trains them accordingly. He is also a great husband in that he never expects me to be the primary caregiver to our girls when he is also home.

Anyway, after I read that article, Ryan got home and I jumped in the car to go to the gym per our usual routine. I go two evenings during the work week for an hour and a half each, which basically kills any family time for the evening. And if I ever get together with other women or want to run errands by myself or get a haircut for heaven's sake on top of going to the gym, I feel like I am the most irresponsible, flighty wife and mother on the planet.
So I have this pull between wanting (NEEDING!) to get out and be an adult woman without kids and needing (WANTING!) to spend time as a family. I simply can't do both.

The result is one of three things:
1. A perfect balance (hahahaha HAHAHA like I have ever achieved a perfect balance of anything)
2. Too little alone time (which means I become even more cranky, irrational, desperate, and chubby)
3. Too little family time (which makes me sad)

When I do get alone time, I feel like we are relay-parenting. Ryan comes home, I slap his hand, and I leave. Obviously, this is not the ideal way to parent or to have a good marriage.

Also, I feel like I am "sticking him with" the kids. I know this is the exact opposite of what the parenting.com (?) author believes, but whatever. I'm crazy.

Reality is very complex, but I will try to break it down (as it relates to this topic. If you would like a full breakdown of reality a la Kathryn, just ask!) (Also, I am not sure I used periods correctly there.)
1. Ryan is a capable father.
2. Ryan loves spending time with the girls, with or without me.
3. This mama needs to get out of the house sometimes. Okay, often.
4. Ryan has never, ever complained that I am gone too much.
5. Ryan would tell me to dial it back if he felt like it was in the family's best interest.

So, I guess I'll leave well enough alone. I'll still go to the gym and book club, get my hair cut, and finally book the massage I've had a certificate for since Mother's Day. The rest of my family will be at home without me, just hanging out. Not "babysitting" or "being babysat", just spending the evening together. Right?


Monday, August 22, 2011

Photos do exist from the past month

It's been awhile since I posted pictures of the girls. Actually, it's been awhile since I've even taken pictures of the girls.

Ryan was gone all day on Saturday, so I decided to be extra fun and do things like clean out closets, wash windows and blinds, and organize my desk. I also made homemade cookies and gave our girls manis and pedis. (Coralie got polish on her toes, but Mads got none. She still has virgin nails.)

Aaaanyway, something possessed me to put makeup on Coralie. That fun little activity turned out to be horrifying. I, well, I . . . I'll just have to show you.

UM, HOW OLD IS SHE? TWELVE? TWENTY? No, she's three.

It's just not even right, how big and pretty her eyes are. I didn't even use mascara! Who made her? God? Did those eyes, uh, skip a few million generations? Because I've never, ever seen anything so pretty in all my life.

 She's a shy one, that girl. Totally afraid of the camera.

Let's move on. A few weeks ago, two of Coralie's friends came over to play. They are, of course, princesses. Here's the proof.
Man, those are cute girls. And girly girls. And very sweet girls. 

Speaking of sweet, here is our sweet Madeline. (Who has been healthy for an entire MONTH now. A whole month! Woo hoo! I was almost feeling cocky enough to put her in the germ pit, AKA church nursery, yesterday morning. Almost.) 
That skin, those blue eyes, that smile. Yikes.

She is the happiest waker of all time. Well, at least of our household. This is what she looks like when you go get her up from a nap.

She's become quite the chaser and game-player. Here she was en route to ambush me.

I'll leave you with a very poetic and symbolic picture. My girls are growing up, forging their own relationship outside of me. They have their own language and their own games. They are fiercely loyal and devoted to each other. And while Coralie is usually the leader, she won't go where Madeline doesn't.

Or, I could have just snapped a random picture that has no deeper meaning.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I can still eat during this type of fast, thankfully

I have been tormenting myself the past few weeks about the number of kids I want. This is why I am crazy. What a stupid, narcissistic, first-world problem to have, I know. I know! And still I can't let it go.

I have many, many friends and family members struggling with fertility.* It feels like the norm is to have problems conceiving a child rather than the opposite. If I were a superstitious woman, I would say that even writing this post is jinxing myself.

(But the point of this blog is to force me to reflect, to acknowledge, to grow. I want to see God working in my life, and for me that means I have to take the time to write.)

I was talking with my mom about this latest self-torment, and she mentioned that we need to make a decision based on what is best for our family (as opposed to comparing the size of our family to the sizes of our friends' families) and that we need to involve God in the decision-making process.

Whoops. I hadn't even prayed about this once. Not once! After realizing this, I knew I needed to put a stop to all thinking about how many kids I want. Now, if the thought pops in my head, I am going to pray. It's like fasting, I guess. When you give up food, all you think about is food. And when you are fasting, you are supposed to pray whenever you want to eat or think about eating. So, I've decided to replace "food" with "thinking about the number of kids I want" in this spiritual disciplines equation.

Anyway, so that's where I'm at on this issue. If you ask me how many kids I want or when I think we'll try to get pregnant again, I won't have an answer for you until God gives me one. I know he can and will if I will turn off the constant inner dialogue long enough to listen.

*Watching people I love battle to conceive a child absolutely breaks my heart. I would do anything to give them their heart's desire, but another crappy component of infertility is that there is often nothing anyone can do, even doctors. HOWEVER. I have learned so much from these couples. And I don't say that as a cliche-- I really mean I have learned a lot. I have seen people choose again and again and again to believe that God is good, and that's sometimes a difficult thing to believe. I have seen them somehow be able to love my (very much alive and healthy and wonderful) children without complaining that they should have children by now. Something else I have learned from them is that there are many, many wrong things to say, including that I can't decide how many kids I want for myself. So, please forgive me for seeming so callous to this hardship-- the premise of the post is not about the number of kids I want really; it's about spiritual discipline.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Touche, cliche, it's all the same

If you're friends with me on facebook, you know that about the worst thing I can become (in my opinion) is a cliche. Which is what I have become.

I cook, clean, do laundry, bathe and clothe kids, and discipline like any mother does. But here begins my cliche stay-at-home-mom identity: I read books and eat chocolate chips while my kids nap. I blog and tweet and facebook. I make pies during the day and then snack on the filling. I am in a book club, for heaven's sake. Sounds a little like June Cleaver, no? (Though I am sure she would be horrified at the junk food I eat.)

Here's where I stray from that nice-ish cliche picture: I wear my pajamas until 1 pm or so, and when I change out of them, I don't even put on "street clothes"--the unsexy pj's are traded for elastic waistband shorts and t-shirts. I don't wear make-up unless I am going somewhere, like to a nice dinner, which NEVER happens, and I don't do my hair. So long, June Cleaver.

Also, to complete my transformation to the (unkempt) cliche, I just finished reading The Pioneer Woman's latest book. And, to make things even more stereotypical, I now follow her (charming) blog. Anyway. Since I have my own blog (THIS IS NOT A MOMMY BLOG. Wait. Is this a mommy blog?), I guess I must follow the correct format as much as possible. Mc(k?)Mama has a moniker for her husband, and so does Pioneer Woman. This got me thinking: is it a requisite that mom bloggers have online names for their husbands?

I asked Ryan this, and he said that I should start calling him Apple Man. At first, I thought he meant the fruit. That made no sense since he doesn't eat apples since I don't buy them since I don't like eating them. Then I realized he meant Apple as in iPhone, iMac, iPad, etc. Because he owns all of these, I assume he thinks he can be called the definitive Apple Man. Well, I don't think his logic holds up. (It rarely does.) (Sorry, "Apple Man," but it's true.)

So I am on a quest to find the perfect name for Ryan. Nerd Man? Random Man? Horrible Timing of Phone Calls Man?  No, those all seem. . . negative.

Money Man? Brilliant Man? Perfect Man? No, those all seem. . .exxageratory.

Ugh. I am so close to attaining the exact cliche of a stay-at-home-mom that I can taste it (or is that the chocolate pie filling?). All I lack is a moniker for my husband.  Do you have any suggestions?

Also, I don't know how to transition to this next thought, but it occurred to me today that brushing my teeth is a completely inefficient use of time. I mean, do I really have to stand still at the sink and move my toothbrush mere inches for two minutes straight? This can't be right! But I have tried to do other things while brushing, like pluck my eyebrows, get dressed, or put on deodorant, and I can't seem to manage it all. So I  must conclude that for those two minutes, I am relegated to doing some calf raises or something, but those aren't my friend since my calves are already too bulky to fit in winter boots, and for the love of fashion, I WANT TO WEAR BOOTS THIS WINTER. You know, for when I change out of my pj's.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Life is so much easier in retrospect, right? It seems hard when you're in it (I can say with certainty that I cried about my bangs-- MY BANGS!!-- more than a half dozen times in middle school) and so much less traumatic looking backwards.

I think a major benefit of having an older mentor is that she can say (preferably in a soft southern accent), "Look, sweetie, you're just doing a great job. Kids are silent sponges-- you're teaching them exactly what they need to know. They'll come around, you'll see." Then you can relax a little and let Time do its thing. (Though mentors can also say, "Honey, you are absolutely making a huge mistake in [doing any number of things I am probably currently doing]. Cut it out, and you'll all be better off.")

But, of course, the question is, "WHO WANTS TO MENTOR ME?" Who wants to take Crazy under her wings? And whose advice would I like to take, anyway? This is why I need to know people of older generations, so I can develop relationships with them and determine who has achieved what I feel to be valuable in life (a deep knowledge of God, a faithful and fun marriage, and respectful and loyal children) and therefore would seek advice from. And they would also need to know me well enough to determine if I was worth giving their life's advice to.

So, uh, is this like dating then? Do I walk up to an older woman and say, "Hey, lady. Want to grab a drink?" I just have no idea how this is supposed to work! Maybe I take out a personal ad? "YOUNG DUFUS SEEKS HELP" seems a little extreme, but "YOUNG MOM SEEKS ADVICE, ANY ADVICE" seems a bit desperate. I'm not sure who would respond, even.

On the other end, I have loved being involved in younger women's lives. I wouldn't say that I've been a mentor to any of them, more like a big sister really, but I do love those relationships I've developed. Maybe older women would find similar fulfillment, which means I would be doing us both a favor?

Until I figure any of this out, I leave you with this very funny blog. You could spend a lot of time there, I think.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I am only going to say this once

I need to say this in fairness to the giant retailer, but I am loathe to.

(I can't even bear to type the words actually.)

Walmart is awesome.

They price match without asking for their competitor's ad as proof. They will even match another store brand's advertised price to their own store brand.

all in all I recommend that you shop there if you haven't before it's not that bad if you put blinders on just grab what you need and rush up to the register to pay the cashiers are becoming more and more competent and helpful and friendly and the price match policy can't be beat thank you walmart

Whew. Now let's all just move on with our lives.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The difference between men and women

SCENE: really close friends who live out of town are leaving to go home after nine days

MEN: Give each other awkward side hugs, quickly pull apart and step away, place hands on hips, look straight ahead instead of at each other, nod a lot, and make comments about the weather or the drive

WOMEN: Give each other full hugs, pull back, make eye contact, and express how wonderful the time has been, how nice it was for the kids to get together, and promise to text or call upon arriving at home

I am sure men can be as close as women, but, boy, do the relationships look different!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cutting for Stone


Until now, I have led a fairly lonely literary life. Sure, I could share a book here and there with a fellow reader, but the conversations were either, "Hey, you should read XYZ. It's really interesting!" or "Here, read this and tell me what you think." As you can imagine, those conversations left something to be desired in the Intellectual Stimulation department.

Ryan would usually politely listen as I went on and on and on about this book or that character or these relationships, but since he hadn't read the books, the conversations were decidedly one-sided.

So I took a bold step this spring and started a book club. WHICH I ABSOLUTELY ADORE. I approached one of my former colleagues about joining me in this genesis, and she agreed. We each invited two friends we knew could be relied upon to actually read the book and add to the discussion, and I am so thrilled with every person we chose.

We have met twice now to discuss the books, and let me say, these women are smart! They are interesting, and well read, and thoughftul, and easy to talk with. I feel like I hit the jackpot, book-club style.

Anyway, the latest book we read together was Cutting for Stone. I am not qualified to give a synopsis of such an intense book, but basically, a Indian nun working in Ethiopia gives birth to conjoined twins. She dies, and the story is about the boys' coming of age. It's complicated and beautiful and poignant and medical-ly and an absolute delight to read. It's about 600 pages, and I read it in three days. I couldn't put it down!

Like I said, it's a long read, but I do think it's worth your time. If you do read it and are unfortunate enough not to belong to a book club where you can actually talk about all the things that cross your mind as you read this, give me a call. I'd love to chat. :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

8 years

When I typed "8 years" into the Title box, I--without thinking--hit shift while I hit the 8 key. That left me with an asterisk, which I think is pretty appropriate.

Appropriate because I feel like there should be a footnote. It would go something like this:

Ryan and I have been married for eight years* now.

*This is only a technicality, of course. We are still 14 and 15 and are waaay to young to have actually been married for two years less than a decade. Still, the calendar claims that eight years have passed since our wedding day, and who am I to argue with such an impartial tool?

Also appropriate because an asterisk is a star sometimes. And I feel like our marriage deserves a star. A big, fat gold one.

Fifteen years ago, Ryan saw me for the first time and said he was going to marry me. Thirteen years ago, he asked me to homecoming. Twelve years ago he asked me to be his girlfriend.  Nine years ago he asked me to be his wife. And eight years ago I said yes.

I don't know what I expected marriage to feel like eight years down the road. Certainly not like this. I guess I assumed it would be routine, comfortable, serious, mature. You know, past the honeymoon stage but well before the intimacy that comes from having been married thirty years.

I find myself still really liking being with Ryan. He still makes me feel cool and funny and pretty. He's still cool and funny and cute. In short, the great stuff about our teen relationship has continued, and the other experiences we've shared have just added to the good base we already had. We have two awesome kids, we plan really fun (for us) parties and vacations together, and we just do life together. The mundane hasn't taken anything away from trying to impress each other or from even being shy around each other sometimes like I assumed it would.

(There are hard times, too, of course, but who wants to discuss that on an anniversary reflection post? Not me. I do want to keep it authentic and admit it's not all roses here in the Bond house, but I'll leave it at that admission and move on. Or I would if I would stop typing.)

Anyway, these past eight years have held so much beauty and fulfillment for me. Mom and Dad: thanks for letting me walk down the aisle, away from your home and into my own. Ryan: thanks for meeting me there at the end and leading me towards the very best life I could have imagined.

(And God: thanks for giving me Mom, and Dad, and Ryan.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cold HARD cash

It's now August 3rd, which means we have been on the cash system for only two days.

It's already a disaster. I seriously have no idea how people pay cash for things. (I get the whole you-only-buy-what-you-have-money-for concept, but I don't get the whole I-pay-for-everything-with-actual-cash-money practice.)

I went to Walmart on the 1st, and it's like my children knew checkout would be More Difficult and wanted to make it Even More So. Madeline started crying (maybe because of the creepy guy behind me, I can't be sure), so I had to get her out of the cart to hold her as I tried to put all my junk on the conveyor belt. She almost face-planted right on top of the chicken breasts more than once, I'm ashamed to say. (Also, the people in front of me had two transactions which took FOREVER since they paid for one of them with food stamps and the other with cash which was dug out from every pocket and crevice of a gigantic purse.) ANY-way, Coralie became jealous that I was holding Madeline and started crying to be held also. At this point, the creepy man behind me started making General Observations about parenting and my kids, which I tried to politely acknowledge while simultaneously blowing off. But back to Coralie: I tried to reason with her that I could not hold both of them, unload the cart, shove the price-match ad in front of the cashier, AND pay, but she didn't believe me. I had to set Madeline down in the cart and pick Coralie up as I sifted through my wads of cash to find the "Food/Household" category, counted out how much money I owed Walmart, took my change, and shoved it somewhere so I could grab my bags and go.

Still, I was proud that I spent about $20 less than I normally do. All in all, I was pretty confident the cash system would be good for our family.

But yesterday Mr. Cash-Loather was around for a few transactions.

The first one was at dinner last night. After paying the majority of the bill with a gift card, I realized I needed a $5 bill to pay the last few cents and to tip. Well, our "Dining Out/Entertainment" category did not have a $5 bill. So I looked to make change in another category. As I was doing so, Ryan started shifting uncomfortably in his seat and noticed a wait had formed in the lobby. Then my ears started burning, as they always do when I am feeling rushed with counting money. Well, after digging around in three categories and finally making change, I procured a $5 bill. But I couldn't remember where all the piles of money now laid out on the table had come from, so I had to COUNT EVERY CATEGORY still in my wallet to see which category was missing which amount.

Then we went to Walmart to pick up some coffee, a drink mix, and strawberries. I headed towards the beverage section and Ryan peeled off into the coffee aisle. I grabbed the (cheapest) mix and met Ryan on the way to the produce section. He saw me, felt convicted (I guess), and said he was going to put the coffee back since we already had some at home (he had been saving it for. . . I don't even know) that we should use before spending money on more.  I picked out three pounds of strawberries (price matched to Aldi's 0.88/lb) while Ryan disappeared somewhere else. He walked back towards me carrying four limes--LIMES!--with a look of "I dare you to question this purchase." I did, of course, and he said that he HATED the cash system but then marched his butt back to the lime tray to put two of them back. I won't bore you with the actual paying hiccup, but there was one, of course.

I guess what I've learned is that paying in cash does make us spend less but it also dramatically raises the stress level upon checking out. Ryan was so uncomfortable during all of the transactions that I would not have been surprised had he taken the wallet out of my hands, thrown it down on the ground, and whipped out his trusty debit card just to get out of the restaurant or store faster.

And yet! I find myself dreaming of all the extra cash we'll have at the end of the month, and how Ryan won't know that I squirreled it away until I have saved around $10k in six months, and how proud he will be. I can't wait.

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Experiment

And so begins our crazy August Experiment, seeing as how it's August 1st. I suppose we could have delayed another month or two, but enough is enough, you know?

We are going credit/debit card-less this month. I know! It's crazy! But we are going to try out this whole cash-system business and see if it is worth all the praise it receives. We are pretty careful with the money we spend-- careful in that we know where every dollar goes, not careful in that we show any kind of restraint. So, in an effort to have more than $10 to offer our girls for college, we are going to try--TRY--the cash system to see if we spend any less and therefore have any more left at the end of the month. You know, for savings (or Vegas).

Ryan has been vehemently opposed to cash for as long as I remember. He even told a homeless man one time that if he didn't take credit, he wasn't getting anything from us. I don't know why Ryan hates cash so much (Ryan, if you're reading this, WHY THE HATE?), but he does, and that is why we haven't tried the cash system yet. He swears it won't make a difference in our spending, but I say it will. We are both competitive, so this month will be interesting, spending-wise.

(Also, we will have lots of overnight guests again this month [around 4 to 6 extra people for 12 days total], so the greatest challenge will be in our grocery bill. Any tips for me? I DO NOT want to admit defeat and whip out my debit card during the experiment!)

Anyway, to prepare myself for this month, I bought a new wallet! (Which, I know.) (But it will be so helpful!) (Stop rolling your eyes.)

So, wish us luck. Also, if you come over and I only offer water and oyster crackers, please don't un-friend me.