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Where has the time gone?

The house right next door to us is inhabited by no less than twenty-seven college students. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But I see them coming and going all the time, and I swear I never recognize a one of them. It always seems as though I’m seeing each young person for the first time. 

At night, Nora loves pointing out that they still have a Christmas tree up in their living room—a sight we can easily see from the window in our stairway as it looks right into the neighbors’ downstairs. 

“Isn’t that so silly, Mommy? Christmas was a long time ago, and they still have their tree!”

Yep. That’s about right. Those silly college students! 

The college neighbors had their graduation today. And, since about 1:30 this afternoon, they’ve been partying both inside and outside their home. Loudly. At first, there was some really embarrassing karaoke going on. There was an outdoor microphone set up and some girl was singing the national anthem. Let’s just say she was no Kelly Clarkson. Is Kelly Clarkson even still relevant?

Moving on. 

Then, there were these really awkward speeches made by the young grads to their parents, who were also in attendance for a spell. The speeches were not just awkward because the kids were fumbling their words and cracking up nervously every few minutes—they were also being microphoned loudly throughout the neighborhood, and likely every house on the block could hear the grads’ heartfelt attempts at sounding meaningful and grateful.

Can it really be that sixteen years have passed since I graduated from college? 16 YEARS?! The time has just flown by. On the one hand, it seems like yesterday we were standing around on a Saturday playing beer pong like our neighbors are doing quite loudly and proudly as I type these words. On the other hand, I know that if I tried to drink now like they’re doing next door, I’d not be able to get out of bed for a week or more. I had that kind of tolerance a lifetime ago.

Sixteen years is a LONG time. We have been removed from that era for awhile now, but that didn’t stop Liam and I from glancing enviously over the fence this afternoon and secretly confessing to one another that we wouldn’t mind reliving the glory days once again. College was the best of times. Truly. I mean, there were shameful and embarrassing moments, for sure, but they were just the best.

In the end, since we couldn’t leave our children to join them in their celebration, we did the next best thing. We cranked up some Dave Matthews Band, and we cracked open some beers. We had our own little living room dance party with the kids, and, after we put the little ones down to sleep, we refrained from calling the cops as the volume grew louder and louder and the evening got later and later. Even though the noise threatened to wake our babies from their slumber. Even though the noise DID wake one little baby from his slumber.

Update: I’m pretty sure someone else just did call the cops, because for the first time since mid-afternoon, it’s quiet over there. Either that, or the party has moved elsewhere.

Ah, college. ❤️

Who we used to be. Before we were ‘we.’

Every now and then we experience these wondrous moments where we are able to stop, let go, and recognize the people we once were, not so long ago—or maybe a long time ago—before we had so many responsibilities. Before children. Before stress and anxiety, technology, and the fast-pace of our lives threatened to consume us all.

This afternoon I enjoyed one such moment. Liam offered to walk the kids to the park down the road so I could finish the mammoth task of folding and putting away about ten load’s worth of laundry. Once I finished, we planned on me meeting everyone at the park so that we could all grab a quick bite for dinner. 

When I got to the park, I set about wrangling the two littlest so I could change diapers before getting back in the car. When I looked up after changing the baby to see where everyone had gone, I noticed Liam had found a basketball and was shooting hoops at the court across the playground. I could hear him trying to cajole the girls into being his rebounders. 

A slow but strong smile spread across my face. I laughed out loud not only at the cuteness of them all, but because I knew I was going to go over there and attempt to steal the ball from someone so I could get in on the action too.

After I got closer and put down the baby, I did just that, much to the chagrin of Nora, who was not impressed, but rather downright offended I would think to do such a thing to her. Sucka!

There’s nothing quite like the feel of a basketball rolling off your fingertips on its way to the hoop, especially when you can feel it’s going to go in before it actually does.

My first thought after I shot the ball was: Man. Remember when I used to be fun? To have fun? 

And just like that, Liam and I were transported back in time. Taking jump shots (and bricking them hard). Making lay ups. Passing and laughing like we were kids in high school. All while the kids yelled around us, “Give it to me! Pass it to me! Mommy! Daddy! Come on!”

Basketball is an experience Liam and I both share. Only, I didn’t know him in high school. Never got to see him play. So, in this brief moment, I was able to watch him as a fun-loving thirty-six-year-old, and imagine his “other life,” the one in which he existed before me. It was like a small glimpse into his past. And maybe even our future. One in which we coach the kids and try to impart any meaningful advice we can still remember from those days gone by.
Isn’t it just SO COOL when these kinds of moments stop us in our tracks? Make us think back about how we used to be? Make us imagine what others might have been like? And make us look ahead at all that we have to look forward to with our own children?

I sure think so.  

The stomach bug strikes again!

What’s a mother to do? I thought after last year’s four-time (!) bout of the pukeys, we might’ve gotten a free pass this go-round. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

Nora got sick yesterday morning all over her car seat while she was on an outing with the sitter. I ended up coming home from work early after the second vomit episode, which happened—gratefully—in the kitchen. I was present for times three through five, most of which ended up in the toilet. We had to do a sheet-change on one of the beds. At least it was early enough we were able to go to bed on time. Everyone slept well, and Nora was significantly better this morning. Still, I decided to take a sick day to stay home with the kids.

Midday, I was feeling GREAT that no one else had yet gotten sick. Could we get away with just one ill kiddo? Even though all three had been sharing a water bottle all weekend? Think positive thoughts!

When I went to get Frances from her nap at 3:00 this afternoon, I noticed bright pink chunks all over her sheets and blankets. Maybe even one of the library books, but they don’t need to know, right? Don’t worry, I won’t return it until the grace period for contagious live viruses expires. I never could get a straight answer from Frances whether she puked in her sleep, or right when she woke up. In any case, I threw her into the bathtub, stripped the second set of bedsheets, and went to wake up the baby.

At least he was well. Until…he wasn’t. Poor little guy. This is his first time with a case of the spit-ups as we like to call them around here. He doesn’t know what’s going on. I’m just grateful his little body cues when he’s ready to go so I can get him to the sink in time. As I write this it’s past time for his bedtime nursing session. I’ve held off because I know it’s just going to come right back up. And there’s very little that smells worse than projectile-vomitted breastmilk. Ugh. Just thinking about it is making me queasy.

I’ve been telling Liam for the past hour that I know it’s coming for me. I can feel the storm brewing. He thinks it’s all in my head. I guess time will tell.

Writing the blog post tonight seemed like a tall order given all that’s gone down in our house today, but hey—A post a day in May, right?

Gotta get it done.

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Enjoying (?) a sink bath after his first spit-ups.

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Sad little guy. But so snuggly! He’s never this still. We are loving the cuddles.

‘Tis the season for lying about Santa, Elf on the Shelf, and trying not to murder your spouse when putting up and righting the Christmas tree.

Our oldest girl asked recently if the Santa with whom she took her picture last Christmas was the real Santa. After a brief glance toward the hubs and a pause that lasted perhaps two seconds too long, I replied unsteadily, “I’m not sure. It’s hard to say if that was the real Santa, or one of Santa’s helpers.”

“Huh?” she asked, rightfully confused.

“Well,” I stammered, “Santa has helper elves that look just like him. So, sometimes we see the real Santa, and sometimes it’s just one of his elves. We can never tell.”

“Oh,” she said, digesting the information. And then she walked away, as if it were just all too much to consider.

The hubs and I exchanged another glance and then agreed we felt quite ridiculous lying to our daughter about the bearded man in a red suit with flying reindeer. I mean, the whole Santa thing is absurd, really. But we also agreed we didn’t want to rob her of the magic and mystery of Christmas that we both experienced as young children.

I’m just dreading the day that she comes home from school—like I did some time in the early elementary years—and tells us how someone in her class told her that Santa is make-believe, and instead of taking him at his word, confronts us with the issue and explains how she didn’t believe the kid because her mommy and daddy would never lie to her.

Well, until then, we will just keep participating in the ludicrous lie that is Santa Claus.

————-

Moving on. Elf on the Shelf. I never intended to have one because I fancy myself unconventional. And also, I felt a little uncertain about threatening my pretty well-behaved kid with a tale about an ever-watching twelve-inched stuffed sprite who reports back to Santa.

However, last year, an Elf was gifted to us by a family member. So, I opened the box in secret, read through the book, and took one evening, right before bed, to introduce the Elf and the whole far-fetched concept to Nora.

Needless to say, she was terrified. Most kids may accept at face value the idea that Santa would send a household elf to watch over a family and tattle back if necessary; not this kid. Watching her face process the silly—and admittedly frightening—scheme was priceless. After two nights and mornings of talking about the Elf and witnessing his flights of fancy, she bravely asked if we could mail the Elf back to Santa. Like, immediately.

And so we did. More lies.

The Elf went back into the box and she and I later talked about how he might return when she was a year older. Better able to handle the thought that some weird creature was flying about her house by night and watching her every move by day. Because that’s not creepy at all for a kid.

At this point, I haven’t yet decided if the Elf will join our family again this year or not. But, I will admit to having changed my mind about using a sprite to threaten my kids into behaving properly. These days, I need all the help I can get.

————-

Every year I DREAD having to put up the Christmas tree. Dread. This probably stems from the trauma of childhood Christmases and watching my dad under the tree, year after year with the tree stand, tightening and loosening this screw and that, rotating and twirling trunks left and right. All while my mom insisted over and over again that the damn thing still wasn’t straight. Wasn’t showing its best side. We children held our collective breaths and winced while our dad stomped off and stormed around a bit until he had calmed down enough to try again. We silently urged our mom to just say good enough is good enough. But it had to all be perfect.

Now that I’m one-half of the tree-putting-up committee at my own house, I’ve learned to expect less than perfection for sanity’s sake. Still, adjusting those stubborn screws and getting that damn conifer to stand straight is a HUGE pain in the arse.

On top of all of this stress, I fear we have lost the tree stand in the recent move. Which means we may need to purchase a new one. I was browsing today on Amazon and discovered a few brands that people claim will save marriages and should be invested in no matter the high cost of $100.

One hundred dollars for a tree stand?! You’ve got to be effing kidding me! For one hundred dollars, included in that deal better freaking be Bing Crosby himself come back from the dead to hold the trunk merrily, all while singing “White Christmas” round the clock for our family and holiday guests. Sheesh.

On second thought. I guess it does beat the cost of having to pay for counseling and/or a divorce lawyer. I think I’ll have to sleep on it.

 

Who’s out there?

Hiya, fine folks. It’s me, Kirstin. This is kind of a cheat post, I know, but with all the mothering and caregiving going on these days, I barely have time to shower, let alone be creative. 

The blog’s been public now over six months! Hoo-rah (spoken like a marine, FYI). And, I’d love to know who’s following along.

So, if you’re feeling up to it, leave a reply. Let me know what you think of this space. And in the meantime, I’ll work on creating more content for your viewing pleasure.

Ciao!

Our friends —the thousandaires —a reneging landlord, and a garage sale that was a total bust.

****I accidentally hit publish today before I had proofread and completed this draftoops! Sorry if you read the unfinished version. This one should be a tad more finished!

Let’s catch up.

First, my very good friend’s hubby won a hundred thousand dollars playing fantasy sports online. What?!?! And, although it couldn’t have come at a better time for them (they’re getting ready to move), or happen to more deserving people, I still find myself thinking:

Man, wish we’d won a hundred grand!

Or: Hmmmm…what could we spend that money on? Paying off loans? Downpayment on a new house? Me not having to work for a year? Vacation abroad?

Or, alternatively: Liam needs to get a new hobby—stat! Like, gambling online at paying fantasy sports sites! Sheesh.

During dinner, when I told Liam about our friends, he was like: Man, we need to catch a break. (Again, let’s be real, here. We are talking about first world problems. Our lives are pretty darn sweet, and we know it.) But, still…

After dinner, Liam opened up the mail. In the pile was a letter from our landlord. Usually the only mail he sends to us includes utility bills. As I was watching Liam read the handwritten note, I noticed that there were no bills included. I also saw him chuckling. I asked aloud, hopefully, thinking this might be our lucky break, “What? Is he going to give us the house for free because we’ve been such outstanding tenants?”

“Not exactly,” he replied. He passed me the letter so I could read it myself:

Kirstin and Liam,

This is a note to inform you that I will not furnish or maintain a lawn mower any more. You will have to supply your own mower. I will sell the present mower for $120.00 for your use.

Sincerely,

(Name Witheld to Protect the Old Guy)

Before I get into the heart of the letter, let me first tell you a bit about our lawn. Our house sits on a corner lot and it has a lot of grass. It takes us approximately two hours to mow the lawn on a riding mower, which came with the house. Up until now, apparently.

And now, let’s get to the mower. It is old. Rusty red. Every winter the front right tire goes flat and the battery dies. We need to start the battery with jumper cables from one of the cars each time we decide the lawn needs a trim, which, given our schedules these days is about once every two weeks. The grass gets to about mid-calf sometimes, depending on the amount of rainfall we receive. It can get embarrassing.

Also, the riding seat is a major hazard. The bolts and screws have come undone no matter how many times we have tightened them, glued them, duct-taped them, etc. So, one side of the seat is safely attached to the mower, but the other side is not. If you drive it too fast on an incline, you might get thrown. Ejected. You have to perfect your lean on this thing, much like a motorcycle rider has to when making steep turns. Suffice it to say, the mower is a piece of shit. Hardly worth $120 big ones.

Onto the letter. I can understand why the landlord, getting on in years himself—much like our dear mower—might not want to maintain the machine any longer. It’s a lot of work. But furnishing the mower no more? Come on, now. It’s not like somebody else is interested in the piece o’ crap. And selling it to us? Does he desperately need that money? I don’t know. All is know is this. I agreed with Liam when, after reading the letter, he exclaimed, “This isn’t the kind of break I was thinking about.”

I guess his response was better than mine. My idea was to draft the following:

Dear Mr. Landlord,

This is a note to inform you that we will no longer be maintaining or mowing the lawn. 

Sincerely,

Your Loving Tenants

———————————-

So, the much anticipated neighborhood garage sale was scheduled for this past Saturday. The garage sale that was going to bring in hundreds of people from all over the place. The sale that was going to bring in so much cash that it would pay for two weeks’ worth of groceries, and maybe even allow us to treat ourselves to a dinner out.

And then, it rained. Postponed until Sunday.

Flash to Sunday. We had maybe seven folks drop by our house. And that’s being generous. Our house was the only one on our street selling anything, so we weren’t bringing in the traffic flying solo. Even the egg roll ladyyes, she did show up asking if she could sell on our lawn (I said yes); and yes, she does indeed wear a t-shirt proudly identifying her as ‘The Egg Roll Lady’drove past, honked her horn and waved, and moved on to greener pastures, somewhere else in the neighborhood. To her credit, she did come back to the house at the end of the sale and offer us egg rolls. They weren’t free, but she gave us a discount.

We probably made close to $40. For someone who is already thin on patience, I found it hugely disappointing we didn’t do better. It took a lot out of me to block out the morningLiam’s only day off with us for awhileset out and organize clothing by size, and wait for the gawkers and hagglers to do their gawking and haggling. Had there been more people, we would have KILLED it. I’m sure.

Around noon, I decided to walk to a neighbor’s house a street away to buy pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. Liam advised against this since doing so would blow our meager profits. Whatever. They were delicious. He agreed.

When all was said and done, we were about five pairs of shoes and twenty-five articles of clothing lighter, made enough money to pay for lunch and egg rolls, and still had some left for about half a tank of gas and an iced coffee.

I’ve been talking with some of the neighbors about either trying to have another Saturday sale, or get rid of some things online. After all, we are still hoping for a lucky break of some kind.

Maybe the next sale will be it?

What are Amish youth really thinking?

This afternoon as I was driving to my parents’ place—thank goodness for family help because it does take a village to raise a child (or three!)—I got stuck behind a line of slowing cars. I assumed it was a horse and buggy, as they usually travel the main road off of which my parents’ house is located. 

When I got close enough, I did see the cause of the traffic buildup was a rather old Amishman, but not one riding in a buggy. Instead, he was driving an electric scooter. What?! 

I mean, push scooters and Amish go hand in hand around here. But an electric scooter? How does that work?Aren’t they supposed to shun electricity?  Does he get a special pass from the community for some health reason? Does one get to use an electric scooter if one’s buggy breaks down? Or is he just breaking the rules? I think, if you’re going to go electric, why not just go one step further and drive a freaking car?!?

That got me to thinking about what today’s Amish youth really think about their elders, their own way of life, and the way of life of us outsiders—the English, as we are known to them. 

They all have cell phones, or it seems most of them do. Again, how they get around this, without having electricity to charge them, I’m not quite sure. I’ve heard they use generators to power them up? But in this age of technology and information overload, surely Amish teens and young adults have access and exposure to more than ever before. So, given that they are likely not as sheltered as we imagine them to be, what do they really think?

For instance, do they enjoy driving buggies and holding onto a horse’s reins? Or, do they feel it’s old-fashioned? Would they rather be driving cars instead? 

Do they look forward to their packed Igloo cooler lunches, day in and day out, filled with homemade custards and baked goods, drinking whole fat cream fresh from the cows? Or, do they ever daydream about ordering takeout, having pizza delivered, or dining at some farm-to-table restaurant where their crops are served up as part of some featured dish?

And what about having to marry within so small a circle of friends and neighbors. Is everybody cool with this? Or is it a big drag that weighs heavily on the youngsters, but they just have to accept it?

I’ve taken several long walks this spring around the back roads near the farms surrounding my parents’ house. In hot weather I’ve worn little more than a tank top and running shorts. Several times I’ve passed a field where an Amish softball game was taking place. 

Each time, the setting was the same: all the boys and young men played in the field, while the bonneted girls and young women sat in the shade barefoot, talking and giggling, watching the boys.

As I passed by I felt extremely aware of how little clothing I had on. Especially now that I’m breastfeeding and slightly more endowed than normal. I wonder, did the boys look at me and secretly think: Wow! There goes a hot piece of ass! Wish our ladies could dress like that!

Or did they blush red and hang their heads, turning away from the ‘sins of the flesh.’

Did the young girls secretly wish they could be out and about, dressed for the weather as I was instead of in their long skirts and long sleeves? Do they even suffer from heat? Perhaps they are genetically adapted to withstand wearing that kind of clothing in hot temperatures.

Or did they think: You heathen! You hussy! Stop tempting our menfolk!

Or did they all simply smile and sigh: Look. There’s our neighbor. Let’s love her as we love ourselves.

I don’t know. It’s hard to say. I only know that I felt uncomfortable walking past them and tried to hurry through that part of the walk so I could avoid their eyes and all that I imagined they might be thinking.

My husband works with the Amish through his job every day. Maybe I should make it my mission to befriend someone through his connections in order to investigate the answers to these questions. I mean no disrespect; I’m just very curious about and fascinated by these people.

Maybe I should try to find an Amish blogger. I bet there’s one (or more) out there, secretly burning the midnight oil—literally!—and typing away on a smart phone-powered-by-generator, posting amazing pie recipes and plans for DIY build-a-barns, or even beautiful patterns for heirloom quilts. 

As soon as I finish typing this sentence, I think I am going to try and find one. 😉