Monthly Archives: September 2015

2015: The year of the overgrown garden. 

Earlier this afternoon I was rocking the baby in a chair on the porch. I happened to glance over at one of our potted plants and noticed how desiccated it had become. Yup, that’s about right, I thought. 

Sorry, plant, I used to take great care of the likes of you, but–if I’m being honest–I couldn’t give two shits that you haven’t been watered but two times in the past month when it just so happened to rain.

The same could be said for my feelings about our lawn. It hasn’t been mowed in about three weeks, and parts of it are looking like the African savanna, capable of concealing a mid-sized aardvark, at least. I’m surprised the landlord hasn’t shown up yet with a notice of eviction.

And the poor, poor flower garden. I had such high hopes for it. Funny how lack of water causes the flowers to dry out and shrivel up, but somehow the weeds still grow sky high. It’s just not right. 

Finally, let’s not forget the cherry tomato plants. You know, the ones we didn’t plant, but continue to grow nonetheless. Perhaps their growth sprang forth from carefully cultured compost of years past. 

Initially, it appeared as though there were three separate plants growing in the small bed off the back of the house. Back in June, Liam tended to them once when he properly staked them all. Now, however, they have morphed into one giant mass of green vines and tiny yellow and red spheres, that seems to grow just as wide as it does high, threatening to overtake a small child should she happen to carelessly wander by. 

I rather enjoyed sending the girls outside to pick some tomatoes a time or two earlier this summer–when the plants were far more tame–just to keep them busy for twenty minutes. It’s not like I was going to cook anything with the little suckers. Gone are the days (at least for now–for me) of home-cooked meals. When I’m in charge of “cooking,” that usually looks like dinners of eggs, or cheese quesadillas, paired with yogurt and raw fruits and veg. Sometimes roasted broccoli makes a rare appearance.

Gratefully, Liam still finds the energy and motivation to really cook for us a couple of nights a week, when he’s not getting home from work at 8:00, tomatoes included.

Anyway, I guess I’m thankful we never really had time to have guests over to enjoy a meal outside this summer at our new picnic table–which Liam’s brother crafted for us in about two hours this past Memorial Day. I would have been too embarrassed to have to ask guests to nevermind the knee-high weeds growing up through the cracks in the patio stone while they were eating their dinner, brushing itchily against their bare legs. I suppose we could have included garden shears at each place setting. You know, have our friends and family help us out with some chores whilst breaking bread together.

Most days I feel like we are barely keeping our heads above water. I have to keep reminding myself that these are the best days of our lives. Weeds and all.

Every once in awhile we like to get a little yokel.

What is yokel, you ask? And rightly so. I didn’t know what it meant until two minutes ago when I googled synonyms for redneck. These days, redneck is offensive and derogatory. I get it. So yokel, or white trash, provincial, hillbilly. Whatever.

Occasionally—well, maybe more than that, but less than frequently—we find that one of us is ready to leave the house in a hurry, with or without kids, but the car we need to use is parked in by the car that we don’t need to use. This has much to do with car seat availability, as one car is equipped with seats for all three kids, and one can hold only two. And also grown-up availability. Like I said, one of us usually needs to leave ten minutes ago, and the other, is running around inside the house like a chicken with its head cut off.

Typically, in a predicament such as this, one responsible party would go move the second car in the driveway so the first car in the driveway could easily back out and go on its way. However, as we have neither good sense, nor responsible parties in this house, we sometimes practice hillbilly-ish-ness (I’m fairly certain this is a word. Go look it up).

This hillbilly-ish-ness looks like this: driver of the first car getting into the car (again, with or without kids), and then—while the second car in the driveway remains in its place—proceeding to drive right down the hill of the lawn, in between the two large shade trees and onto the street.

This kids get such a kick out of this when they are in the car. After giggling a few moments, they say, “Look at us, mommy! Isn’t this so silly! We’re driving down the hill on the grass.” And then, more giggles.

Silly indeed. What the neighbors must think of this when they happen to see us, I’ve no idea. I’m hoping it makes them chuckle and shake their heads. Not call the police, our landlord, or Child Protective Services.

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Husband getting ready to go to work. He was late, and so couldn’t move the other car. I was hustling kids around, so I couldn’t do it either.


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The solution? Drive down the hill, of course!


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The end result. One car parked abnormally far back in the driveway.

Kids and their dreams.

A few weeks ago Nora expressed some concern about going to sleep. She told me that she doesn’t like going to bed because she just lies in bed thinking bad thoughts before she is able to fall asleep. She also admitted to having bad dreams.

Saddened, I asked her why she hadn’t said anything to me before that point about the trouble she’d been having. I told her that she needed to talk to her dad or to me when she was worried about things like this. I also told her to think about good, happy thoughts before she fell asleep.

“I can’t, mommy,” she said. “My body just won’t let me.” (insert sad face here)

This from a kid who has twirled her hair, gently picked at her lips, and/or rubbed her eyebrows anxiously as she’s fallen asleep, since she was a toddler. This from a kid who appears to be both contemplating the world’s problems as well as coming up with ways to solve them, all before 8:00 p.m. each night. Our ever-thinking, always-wondering child. A product of her mother, for sure.

I asked Nora to talk a little bit about some of the bad thoughts and dreams that she had been having. This is what she told me:

“I have two bad dreams, mommy. The first one is…well…I can’t really explain it. Something eats me. It’s like a deer or something, and it just eats me. And the second one is, I get runned over by a car. And I just lay there in the road and there’s no one to help me.”

It was extremely hard for me to not bust out laughing after her first admission. Eaten by a deer? She’s kidding, right? But I felt so sad for her after she revealed the scary contents of her second dream. I wondered: Where does this come from? From talking to my niece and nephew? (They are sometimes a concerning source of content much-too-mature for my four-year-old). I mean, I do talk from time to time about why we need to have green and red lights on the road as well as wear seat belts, so that we can be safe, but don’t get into much more detail than that.

Hmmm….There was a day earlier this summer a colleague/friend came to the house to pick up some cloth diapers we can’t use anymore. She had a cast on her arm so we explained truthfully that the friend had been hit by a car, but that she was going to be OK. Maybe that’s where?

I did a little reading online about bad dreams and nightmares. It seems very normal and age-appropriate for Nora to be dealing with this now. Apparently, once little ones realize that there are real world dangers out there—eaten by a deer, maybe, not so much—they start to dream about potential hazards. Life changes can also trigger these imagined fears (me going back to work, Nora starting school again—all things we’d been recently talking about).

We spent a good deal of time talking about how dreams aren’t real although they can seem to be, and can be very scary. I told her that we were going to start saying prayers again at night, something we used to do, but had forgotten to do for some time. I’ve found that this is also a really good way to get Nora to be reflective about the day as well as teach empathy.

We run through all the “God bless” everybodies. Lately, it’s gone from mentions of specific, individual names to “God Bless every human on the earth.” Girlfriend already figured out the benefit of shortcuts.

Then we say special prayers. Things like, “God help Grandma’s knee feel better, and Titi’s burns to heal, and Grandpa’s sickness to go away.”

Next, we mention all the things for which we are grateful.

Then, mommy likes to add a plug for good behavior. “God help Nora and Frances to be kind to one another, and to be helpful, and to make good choices.” Lord knows, we need all the help we can get!

Finally, we ask for sweet and silly and funny dreams. “And, if we should happen to have bad dreams, may they pass quickly, and may we be reminded that they’re not real, and we only need to cuddle up with mommy or daddy to make them go away.”

We’ve been going on a couple of weeks now with no bad dreams. The power of prayer! Or positive suggestion. Or good energy. Or a combination of all three. Whatever it is, it’s nice to be participating in a nightly ritual once again where we are able to think outside of ourselves and our own needs.

Then, this weekend, there was this:

“Mom! I had a funny dream last night. Want to hear it?”

“Sure,” I said.

“Well, you and daddy were in it. And your friends. And we were all outside. You and daddy were on the back patio. And your friends were on their back patio, across the yard.”

Then she glanced toward the window, beyond which our back patio stood. Then she looked across to where our older, white-haired neighbors live—Mr. Larry and Mrs. Betty—and a confused look came across her face as she was trying to recall the exact details of the dream.

“Wait a minute. Was that your friends in the dream, or Mr. Larry? No, not Mr. Larry. It was friends. There was a mom and a dad friend. And the mom had hair like…it was short and blond. She looked like Tella’s Aunt Amy. Wait, was that Aunt Amy? I mean, Baby Lila’s mommy?”

I jumped in then to confirm, “Baby Lila’s mom is Aunt Amy.”

“Oh. Yeah. Aunt Amy then. Yeah, your friends, the mom one, looked just like her.” 

“That’s it?” I said, after a long pause and expectant look from Nora. “That was the end of the dream?”

“Yep.”

Just like that, bad dreams be gone (at least for now). And weird-ass nonsensical ones take their place. Sounds about right to me!