Friday, June 28, 2013

Westley Lately

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At 5-1/2, Westley is a handful. He's an awesome, sweet kid and he drives me up the wall with his antics. Some days, he seems impossibly mature; I see shadows of the teenager he will become, and I think he'll be an awesome, sweet kid then too. And he will probably still be a handful.

Most days, he has more energy than he knows what to do with. He is king of the bouncy castle:
Bouncy House
Bouncy House
When he plays, he makes all the noise there is. Unless he's quiet and pensive:
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He likes to battle trolls:
Troll
Troll
And he has a hard time waiting (especially when he's hungry):
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Westley has cast a spell on Ivy. He is her most favorite person in the whole world:
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Westley is hilarious:
Aquarium
He loves babies and animals. And baby animals: 
Aquarium
(Baby otters are fast and hard to photograph.)

Westley's imagination is wild and almost too big for his little head. Sometimes it gives him "bad thoughts." Most of the time, it makes adventures, where hallways are secret caves and lights are (non-scary) ghosts:
Aquarium
He's pretty proud of himself, and still delighted to be exactly who he is:
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May it ever be so.
Brother Love
(May it ever be so.)

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

I Am Not a Real Mom

While looking for something entirely else online today, I came across a link to a photo essay about "real moms." I'm not going to link to it, because I didn't read it. This is not about that essay anyway. It's about the word real.

I am so tired of hearing about what "real women" have, or what "real men" do, or what "real moms" look like. Using real like that is unfair. It takes a perfectly fine word and turns it mean. If "real women" have something I don't have, what does that make me?

Sometimes real in one of those phrases is meant to help us embrace our beautiful selves, just as we are. We're supposed to be inspired by these "real" people who are just like us. It's meant to be empowering. Self-love is wonderful, but holding a group up as "real" is a slight to those who don't or can't identify with those images.

The "real"/(implicitly)-not-real binary is bully-speak. It says, If you're not just like us, you don't matter.

Let's find other ways of encouraging and inspiring each other—ways that don't tell people they're less real.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The 2-Hour Work Night

I get so very little done during the day. Feeding and clothing two children and myself always takes much longer than I think it should, plus there's cleaning up from meals (solid food for baby—so fun, but SO messy!) and some kind of outing or brief errand. It's not a lot, but it takes forever, especially when you factor in playtime and naps.

Meanwhile, little (and not-so-little) tasks are pile up everywhere. Ivy is fascinated by everything I do and wants to come with me everywhere. Which is great. And adorable. And makes it really hard to do anything that requires two hands.

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I WILL HELP YOU!

There are a few housework-y tasks I can complete with the baby on my hip (and much pain in my back). With most jobs, though, I find myself thinking, "I'll do this after the kids go to bed."

On a good night, when Ivy goes right to sleep and Westley isn't up too late with extra snacks and drinks and stories, Rob and I have two hours of "quiet adult time"—if we ourselves also go to bed at a decent hour. Lately, we've been stretching it to three hours, and there's still always a generous handful of things left undone.

The problem, as it always is in life, is balance. If we spend our entire two (or three) hours on household tasks, we start to feel sullen and bitter that we never have any fun. If we use our free time solely for hanging out, reading, and movie-watching, the house starts to look like it's inhabited by trolls instead of humans. Then there's exercise, which we have both recommitted ourselves to, which can easily take up most of an evening.

I keep telling myself, "It can't be this hard to manage your time! People have two and three and four kids at home and still manage to get things done and not be too miserable!" And I have a feeling those people aren't trying to cram all their work and play into a two-hour evening window.

This isn't about "doing it all" or being some sort of Perfect Housekeeper or Perfect Mom (whatever that is). I'd just like to feel a little more organized and capable of caring for my children, myself, my house, and my relationship on a day-to-day basis.

If I could order productivity with a side of joy, that would be awesome.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Father's Day Brunch

Father's Day Brunch

Sometime in May, Rob wondered aloud why there was no Father's Day equivalent of the Mother's Day brunch tradition. I'd like to think this question was inspired by a feminist train of thought wherein Rob was unpacking the relationship certain breakfast foods have to ideas of gender. (Why do mimosas seem feminine? And why are men's bodies never described has possessing "muffin tops"?) However, I suspect that Rob arrived at the Father's Day Brunch idea because he just really enjoys brunch.

And why not? Brunch is unplugged, acoustic breakfast—so we can really enjoy the poetry of the lyrics! It's the perfect combination of fancy and cozy.

Rob had a few requests—"Scrambled tofu. And scones...with stuff."—and I insisted that there be mimosas. Westley helped me shop for ingredients. I did a little bit of prep work the night before, and then got up early with the kids so Rob could wake up to a warm plate of food. The scones burned just a bit, but overall, it was one of the best "holiday" meals we've ever had.

Father's Day Brunch
The menu was as follows:
  • Scrambled tofu — The Basic Scrambled Tofu from Vegan Brunch is Rob's favorite incarnation of this veggie breakfast staple.
  • Roasted potatoes — I quartered and boiled the potatoes the night before, doused them with coconut oil in the morning and roasted them while everything else cooked. I think boiling ahead of time may be my new potato-roasting secret weapon.
  • Lemon-poppyseed scones — I used this recipe, subbing coconut oil for the margarine and folding in lots of lemon zest and poppyseeds. I finished them off with a sprinkling of yellow decorating sugar.
  • Strawberries with whipped coconut cream — My new favorite thing.
  • Coffee — Decaf.
  • (Manly) Mimosas — How do you make a mimosa manly? Serve it to a man.
But let's go back to the whipped coconut cream for a second. This stuff is ridiculously good. And ridiculously easy. It's one of those not-even-a-recipe recipes.

Whipped Coconut Cream

Whipped Coconut Cream
Serves 4

1 (14.5-ounce) can coconut cream (I used Trader Joe's brand) or full-fat coconut milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
Powdered sugar to taste

The hardest thing about this recipe is remembering to put the can of coconut cream in the fridge ahead of time. Put the can in the fridge ahead of time! Overnight is best (especially if you'll be featuring your whipped cream at a brunch), but 4 hours should be sufficient.

Shortly before you want to eat, put the can of coconut cream into the freezer, along with a metal mixing bowl and the beaters from your mixer. Let everything chill for 15 minutes or so while you tend to your other brunchy things.

After 15 minutes, take the coconut cream out of the freezer, turn the can upside down and open the bottom. Pour off any liquid that may have separated out, and scoop the solid stuff into the chilled mixing bowl along with the vanilla extract. Whip on high for 5-7 minutes until fluffy. If you want it sweet, whip in 1-2 Tbsp sifted powdered sugar. Scoop onto fresh berries (or pancakes, or your coffee, or...) and enjoy!

Whipped Coconut Cream

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P.S. Plain scones + sliced fresh strawberries + whipped coconut cream = delicious gluten-free, soy-free vegan strawberry shortcakes.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

8 Years

Saturday was Rob's and my eighth wedding anniversary. It was also the 4th Annual Seattle Pride Picnic.

Pride Picnic 2013
Pride Picnic 2013
Pride Picnic 2013
(This year, there were no giant balloons to photograph with Westley.)

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Pride Picnic 2013

We ate delicious food, played games, danced to music...

Dancing
...all under a rainbow around the sun.

Rainbow Around the Sun!

Several performers and presenters brought up the victory for same-sex marriage in Washington State—and what a sweet victory it was! I feel so much joy for the couples and families whose lives were directly impacted by this historic shift. It makes me genuinely proud to live where I do.

On the drive home, Westley asked, "If two men get married, or two women, is there two brides or two grooms?"

"Yes."

"I thought so."

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When I think of marriage, I almost immediately jump to the issue of same-sex marriage. It's something I'm passionate about, and one of the political issues Rob and I bonded over when we met.

When I think of marriage, I think about how the nation is slowly shifting towards greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community. How when I thought I would marry a woman, we could be married in the sense of being fully committed to our partnership, but not in the sense of being legally connected to one another. How shitty and unfair and ridiculous it is that my marriage is legal and protected in all 50 states just because my spouse and I have certain body parts. How it appears that my children will grow up in a world that is much more accepting of them and their partners, whomever those partners turn out to be.

Marriage is hard work. Even with all the perks of heterosexual privilege, it's hard. I can't even imagine how hard the work becomes when, because of DOMA, your spouse is only allowed to stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days on a tourist visa.


I didn't get married because I had a wonderful, loving relationship. I got married because I was afraid of being alone. It's a pretty lousy reason to make a serious commitment to someone. (Fortunately, it's turned out pretty well.)

There are couples out there—people who have loved each other longer than my husband and I have even liked each other—who would like nothing more than to be able to be married. (Really married, where they get to live together and talk about their days and eat dinner and fight over the covers and help and support each other through major life decisions.) The fact that we can and they still can't is simply heartbreaking.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Ten Months

10 Months
Miss Face

Ivy at ten months is a lot like Ivy at nine months—only more so. More capable, more determined, and more mobile. She's this close to standing on her own: she pulls up to stand, steadies herself, lets go...and slowly sits back down. She's cruising around furniture, climbing, getting into everything.

Fridge
Coffee
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Cupboard
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I keep hearing people say how much they miss this age. Because they're still babies, but they're doing more things and sleeping through the night.

Um, no. Doing more things, yes. Absolutely. But sleeping through the night? Okay, yes she is in the bullshit AAP sense of "midnight to 5:00 AM" a.k.a. "a five-hour stretch at night" a.k.a. NOT what people are talking about when they say their babies sleep through the night!

10 Months

Ivy definitely seems to be working on cutting some top teeth, and it occurred to me: I can't make her sleep from 7:00 PM to 5:30 AM (for example) any more than I can make her teeth come in tomorrow.

And I would be much happier to just let it be, to just roll with the sleep punches knowing that I'm doing everything I can to help her, except that I'm so tired. By the end of the day, I don't know who I am any more. Parenting two children in two very different stages of development is the most challenging form of multitasking I've ever attempted. (And I was never very good at multitasking.)

So, sleep. Not Ivy's strong suit at this age. She's still a hilarious, glorious handful.

Ergo
F&HF
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Hat!
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Toys
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Did I mention she's a super-mobile little thing? Her newest trick is pulling up to stand on me. She grabs onto my jeans and then she just stands there, reaching, craning her neck up to see me with a look of utter frustration and distress on her face: "What do I do now?"

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She gets stuck often during her crawling-cruising-standing adventures, because she can see what to do, but she can't make her body do it yet. The saddest is when she crawls under a dining chair, sits up, and then can't figure out that she has to duck her head down to get back out.

Supper

After showing little interest in solid foods for several months, Ivy turned a corner and decided she likes sitting in her highchair for meals. Her favorites are roasted sweet potatoes, asparagus tips, and baked plums.

Even as she grows into a little girl before our eyes, she's also becoming more and more herself. Some things about her haven't changed at all since very early on. She still loves kisses, and being sung to. Her favorite place to hang out is in my arms. She would rather not ride in the car. Her favorite toy is her brother.

Overall, she still seems pretty happy to be here.  

Miss Face
Girls
10 Months
And we're still overjoyed to have her.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

If Baby Ain't Sleeping, Ain't Nobody Sleeping

You guys. Baby sleep. Makes. No. Sense.

When it's the middle of the night, and she's clearly exhausted, and she needs to sleep, and yet... It's vexing.

Ivy goes to sleep at bedtime like a champ. I nurse her, Rob rocks her, and—thunk—she's out like a light. But the middle of the night is a different story. She wakes up and cries, and then she cries...and cries...and cries.

My mind goes, I don't remember Westley doing this. And I want to say that's because I just don't remember. But no, I really think Westley didn't do this. I think this crazy sleep pattern is all Ivy's own invention.

And it's a sadistic invention, whose purpose can only be to drive me to the brink of insanity and dangle me off the edge.

In other words, we're all plodding though some serious sleep deprivation right now, and it ain't pretty.

To give Ivy the benefit of the doubt, having to cry inconsolably for two hours in the middle of the night every night is no fun for her. And she's also growing, and getting back into the groove of things after vacation, and finally over that nasty cold, and she's on the brink of walking (and talking), and her gums sure look puffy...

All right. I guess the fact that she's having trouble sleeping makes more sense than I thought.

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These pictures have nothing to do with this post. Except that exhaustion is a little easier to deal with when I watch my children being totally sweet with each other.

Swing Set
Swing Set
Swing Set

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