Saturday, September 29, 2007

The end is in sight

September 29, 2007 - Saturday

The end is in sight
Current mood: hungry

Barely more than a month to go, and baby will be fine if I should go into labor. No prescribed bedrest yet, hooray! I'm knocking on wood- next weekend marks the point where I went into preterm labor with Mr. Sweetcheeks. Tomorrow is a date I'm feeling a bit superstitious about: both my boys were born on the 30th of their month, and if this baby were to try to repeat the trend with a new month then tomorrow would be the day. So, I am hoping to really take it easy tomorrow. :) But anyhow, I am glad to have made it this far without going into labor- since I've gone into labor earlier each time, I really expected to be on bedrest by now! So this is great. Just a little over a month.

(Watch babyman go past his due date, LOL!)

* * *

I am ordering pizza for dinner tonight, and feeling guilty. But dammit, it sounds good and I really don't feel like fixing anything. And the boys like it. I swear I'll fix those veggies I bought before they go bad. . .

* * *

Today's the first day I opened the windows in the bedrooms and left them open all day. The house smells so much more fresh, and I love how cool it is outside. I love fall! I just wish I felt up to being more active. I'm sooo tired- not sleepy mostly, but really really tired. And I truly don't want to go into labor early. Even though everything was fine last time because they stopped my labor and I carried to term, a week's hospital stay in a month of bedrest was no fun at all. It was hard enough finding 24/7 help when there was only one child to look after- now there are two. And besides, it would be nice to avoid the medical interventions that were necessary to stop my labor last time. If I never, ever encounter Breathine (a medication) again, it will be too soon. The point of that being, that I really start to feel it when I try to do too much- I'm already having some noticeable contractions. Trying to keep up with the boys outdoors is really too much by myself. So, we are all a little limited these days. At least Sweetcheeks gets to go to the playground at school, and both boys get to do things occasionally with other family members. Plus I do manage to get them out from time to time. Just a little more than a month. . .

* * *

Time to end my mindless ramble, as I need to feed the boys (and myself!)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

crime and punishment

September 27, 2007 - Thursday

crime and punishment
Current mood: exhausted

I'm not sure if this has anything to do with me being pregnant- it might, since pregnancy can make one more emotional, more tired and less rational- but I am losing it more and more often with Littleman. I have yelled at him more times than I care to contemplate. Even if it is me however, that's not the only cause. Littleman seems to think it's such a wonderful game to push my buttons and tempt fate over and over and over and OVER again. The biggie for me is being ignored- he just loves to continue doing things that I have JUST told him not to do. Or to take one million years to complete a task that I have asked of him- whether that be picking up the books in his room or simply climbing into his carseat. Now I am a very patient person- or rather, I used to be- but we are talking a CONSTANT barrage of gleeful defiance. I begin to lose my cool, and thus lose my ability to react appropriately without allowing the situation to escalate. It's hard to think of appropriate, effective "punishments" (whatever form they may take) when the straws begin to break the camel's back. Far too often I find myself bellowing in anger and frustration, (precisely the sort of behavior that I am discouraging in Littleman), and using spankings as my retaliation. I am not in control here.

I always felt that if I followed through on what I said I would do, then it would get to the point that any "threat" I have to make is respected as serious- and the boys would likely choose to do what was asked of them rather than to almost certainly have me fulfill my promise. However, almost every time I choose a "threat" and explain to Littleman his choices and the consequences, he seems to want to test this theory YET AGAIN. He grins and dallies and does anything but what I've asked, (or simply continues doing what I've told him to stop), until inevitably I have to follow through with the "punishment". No matter how much he hates the negative consequence, and despite the fact that he knew that's what was going to happen if he made the negative choice, he almost always chooses to test me and force me into following through, rather than simply DOING what I've told him to do.

It's probably a means of getting attention, but he gets much nicer attention from me when he is helpful and cooperative. Why choose an angry, spanking mom instead of one who is relaxed and smiles and gives grateful hugs? I'm really at a bit of a loss here.

It could also be partly his energy level- he simply can't control his physical movement sometimes- but I do try to keep that in mind and work around it when I'm dealing with him. Most of our battles do not stem from this, or at least I don't think they do.

Sigh. Anyway, I'm mostly complaining I guess. I hope it's partly a phase- that he will outgrow this need to test and test and retest what I say. That, even if he is still a bit defiant and always energetic, he will at least understand the simple, immediate consequences of his actions (positive and negative) and more often respond appropriately. Damn, it sure would be nice if he'd HELP me instead of making me pull my hair out. He really could be a big help, if he were interested.

I have our digital camera back, finally. Maybe it's time to make that chore board I thought of awhile back- it would be a nice, visual reminder of positive things that Littleman could do to garner my attention. In additon, I need to come up with a list of effective "punishments" that I can look toward when I need something effective in any given situation. Some things ready in my mind so I don't have to rely on a spanking when my blood is boiling. It's really hard to think of a privilege that I could remove without punishing the rest of us right along with him. And time out seems to have no effect on him whatsoever.

Hmm, Kiki- maybe it's time I revisited that idea you gave me for a card system like you use with Bird??

Well, at the very least typing it out makes it seem a little clearer in my own mind. What works for you?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

a story begins

September 26, 2007 - Wednesday

a story begins
Current mood: relaxed

Here's the beginning of a story. . . I intend to continue it but haven't done so thus far. It's unedited, but I thought y'all might enjoy a peek. We'll see if it turns into anything. :)

Uneasily I watched the woman under the trees. In no hurry, her eyes scanned the ground as her fingers ran lightly through the undergrowth. Only the lightest touch- almost a caress- stirred the leaves and flowers, and then she would move on. Finally her roving fingers stopped and held some leaves gently for her inspection. Satisfied, she began pinching the tops off the plants and dropping them into her basket. I wondered what the plants were, and why she wanted them. Certainly her behavior so far did nothing to disprove the stories I'd heard at school. Some of them were wilder than others, but all of them claimed she was a witch. I hadn't expected to run into her out here, so near my secret spot, but upon reflection I realized we were actually not far from her little house. Gosh, maybe I was even on her property- I had no idea how much land around her cabin she actually owned. No wonder nobody ever came out here.

I'd actually been snoozing when she must have arrived, drifting between conciousness and my own wandering thoughts. It took me a moment to notice her presence, but luckily I was well hidden and had not moved. While her back was turned I'd cautiously raised my head to peer through the honeysuckle. She was moving away from me now, so I breathed a little easier. I didn't much care to be discovered, especially not by her. Even though I knew most of the stories were total garbage, there was enough uncertainty in me to make me cautious. Feeling a little silly at my superstition, I rationalized that she was a stranger regardless, and a reclusive one at that. Far better to avoid a confrontation out here so far from help.

She did sort of look like she was from an earlier time- she wore a long sleeveless cotton dress that laced up the front, with a pretty elastic gather between her shoulder blades. There was a fringed scarf tied around her waist, and her silvered-auburn hair was pulled up into a wispy bun. Her arms and shoulders were brown and freckled. She was sweating a little in the afternoon heat (as I was), and when she stood to stretch she turned her face to catch the quickening breeze. She studied the horizon for a moment, and eyed the clouds above. Just then I heard a low rumble of thunder, very far away. Shoot. I didn't want to be discovered, but I didn't much relish the idea of getting caught up here in a downpour either. These summer thunderstorms could be really dangerous- just last year, some kids went to the hospital after lightning struck a nearby fence. The hailstones alone could be enough reason to head for shelter, and soon.

Luckily she must have had the same idea as me, because she picked up her half full basket, quickly scanned the woods around and then started down the path. I waited quietly until I figured she'd be out of earshot, then stuffed my book and water in my backpack and squeezed out from under the branches of my hideaway. The breeze was already growing stronger, causing the woods around me to shift and sway. I heard another rumble of thunder, this time much nearer. The storm was moving fast. I usually love that wild, electric feeling in the air that precedes a good summer rainstorm, but this afternoon felt different somehow- much more ominous. Everything was dark, and the branches seemed to hurry me along. "Go, go, go, hurry hurry" the leaves seemed to whisper. Almost against my will, I broke into a run and flew down the mountainside, not stopping until I'd leapt the old barbed wire fence, hurried through the elementary school's gate and trotted through the schoolyard to the street.

No cars were coming, so I crossed and cut through the Woolfolks' property. The air was heavy with rain, and it was as dark as a moonlit night. The windchimes on the Woolfolks' deck were ringing crazily. I walked now, catching my breath so I wouldn't look too harried when I got home. The wind felt good. What had got into me? It was just another summer storm- they were a common occurance in North Carolina in the warmer months. I guessed the woman in the woods had spooked me more than I cared to admit.

I rounded the patio at the back of Mrs. Johnson's yard and slipped through our own back fence. Just as I set foot on the deck stairs, there was a huge clap of thunder and the clouds opened up. I scooted the rest of the way up the stairs and into the kitchen, but not before the downpour had drenched the back of my shirt. Shutting the door, I shook the water out of my shoulder length, sandy colored hair. Mom glanced at me from the kitchen table, where she was working on her laptop.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

grumpy me

September 22, 2007 - Saturday

grumpy me
Current mood: cranky

I'm sitting on our back deck, watching the kiddos play in the sand and listening to neighborhood dogs, our air conditioner and someone hammering. Oh, and an airplane overhead. And now a lawn mower.

I thought about writing a descriptive entry, noting the way that Fall has begun to gild the sunlight ever so slightly, hinting at glorious October days to come. Writing about the scrape of sand shovels, the citronella scent of our bug repellent and about how lovely it's been to be able to leave the windows open at night. About the first leaves blushing red outside our bedroom window.

However, I have a grinding, splitting headache. Though I'm not sleepy, I'm feeling exhausted and I didn't get a nap today because by the time I'd finished some office work Sweetcheeks woke up early. I'm feeling really underappreciated, though in most cases that's just me. I still don't know what I'm going to feed the boys for dinner. The dogs stink so bad it makes your eyes water, but I'm not really supposed to be lifting 40 - 50 lbs of canine and doing any vigorous washing. Increasingly, I am feeling the physical strain of carrying this baby, and I am well aware that I'm supposed to listen to my body and not overdo things. Just doing the dishes and laundry, cooking (what minimal amount I am doing these days) changing diapers and running errands absolutely wears me out. It's all I can do to keep the house (somewhat) livable, keep the kids clean and healthy, feed and water the pets, pay the bills, keep up with family, entertain the kids. . . the more I think about it the more I think of things I'm still doing. . . it's honestly making me more tired just sitting here thinking about it, so I'll quit there. . .

Anyway I think I'm just feeling tired and grouchy.
So there.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Peace and quiet on the Blue Ridge Parkway

September 18, 2007 - Tuesday

Peace and quiet on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Current mood: relaxed

Quiet. So quiet. Just the breeze stirring the branches, the occsional bird chirp, crickets and the low hum of a dryer somewhere. The boys are off hiking with Daddy, and I am seated on our room's little porch, stretching my toes into the sun and gazing across blue infinity. The mountains flow softly into each other, ridge after ridge fading gently into soft and softer blues, until the far off horizon blends seamlessly with hazy sky. Just below me I can watch the birds and butterflies hop and flutter through tree tops and soft purple flowers. A carpenter bee just came barnstorming, and buzzed off again. It has been surprisingly cool here, easily in the 50s at night and chilly this morning when we walked to breakfast- but the sun warms my bare legs now, and the air is perfect. I brought books and crafts with me to pass the time, but have so far spent most of my day pampering myself with hot water, soaps and lotions. Ahhh. There is absolutely no cell phone coverage, no internet, barely any TV. Wonderful. (It takes an adjustment, though- that's for sure! Amazing how much I depend on cell phones and internet on a daily basis. . .) But it's so relaxing, not being "on call" in any way. At least for awhile.

This may not be a luxurious getaway, but it is beautiful here, and the room is clean. The restaurant is pretty good, and the staff (if an interesting lot) are all super friendly and welcoming. It's a good place with the kids. We're at the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Good hiking around here, and (since I am supposed to be taking it easy, for the pregnancy) it's also a nice place to just relax. The food in the restaurant is good- great salad, hooray! - if a tad bit expensive. Excellent service though, and be forewarned: the kids' meals are huge. Nice little gift shop, gorgeous scenery. Very pleasant, and unpretentious. Recommended. We are here on a weekday- I don't know how busy or how much noisier it might be on a weekend- the Parkway is popular with motorcyclists. (Yeah baby!) :)

Maybe I will take a nap, hmm. . .

Thursday, September 13, 2007

just checking in, a book and campsites

September 13, 2007 - Thursday

just checking in, a book and campsites
Current mood: grumpy

Grumpy. Tired. Sore and plagued with heartburn. Yeah, that's me these days!

I did read a good book: Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke. It's actually a YA novel, and it was perfect light reading- enjoyable, and still well-written. It's the beginning of a trilogy, so next I'll pick up Inkspell which is second. I recommend them, so far.

I am trying to choose the perfect campground for our next big family campout. I want to find a place in the mountains, preferably GA or NC, with a group campsite for tents (rather than us having to reserve adjoining smaller campsites), with hiking trails, flush toilets and running water, nearby accomodations for the grandparents, lovely scenery, and some shade. I'm looking for a place that has more things to do at the campsite, as well- preferably tubing on a river, or maybe a lake with a sandy little beach for swimming, maybe a playground, possibly mountain bike trails, or whatever. No "game rooms". It would be nice to have showers and a camp store, but those aren't necessary. Finally, a nearby attraction (like a particularly cool state park, a great waterfall, something historic, whatever) would be cool but is also not necessary. Not asking for much, am I? ;) I thought I'd mention it here, just in case any of you have a good suggestion! Thanks!

Hmm. I've completely blanked on whatever else it was I was thinking of writing about. Guess I'll go find a pregnancy ticker for my page, so y'all can quit asking me when is it that I'm due, again? ;) And then maybe I'll have a nice warm bath. :)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The quest for all-natural products that work. . .

September 6, 2007 - Thursday

The quest for all-natural products that work. . .
Current mood: annoyed

I wish I could find an all-natural (phosphate-free) detergent for my diapers that works right. I also can't seem to find a natural (paraben-free) deoderant that really works.

I have tried a variety of all-natural detergents, and for some reason they have all caused build up in the diapers- that is, over the course of a few washings the detergent is leaving residue in the fabric, causing the diapers to REEK once peed in. The stink of the diaper pail will make your eyes water. This isn't normal for the cloth diapers- normally the diaper pail hardly smells at all. I have tried Bi-O-Kleen, Charlie's Soap and even plain washing soda with a little Simple Green. My favorite so far was the Charlie's Soap- the diapers smelled SO fresh and clean coming out of the dryer! But unfortunately now the build up has become obvious, and I know the Charlie's Soap doesn't work well with our water for diapers. Sigh. At least I can use it up on other laundry! I'll keep looking. Part of the reason we use cloth diapers is because they have a lesser impact on the environment than disposables do, and I'd like to carry that awareness further by using a detergent that's better for the environment as well.

Similarly, I'd prefer to use a natural, paraben-free deoderant. I have read several articles that detail potential health hazards from regularly using deoderants that contain parabens. Again, I've so far tried several types with little success. The Tom's of Maine deoderant didn't work at all (too bad- it's a great company), and neither did a tea tree oil formulation that I tried (I forget the brand). Years ago I gave the salt crystal thing a try- it works remarkably well for several people I know. Unfortunately my body chemistry didn't jive with it. So far the best one has been an apricot deoderant by JASON. It might do the trick in cooler weather- it made a valiant effort even during our recent heat wave when I tried it out. For now however, I'm back to 'bad old' Secret or whatever it is I last bought. At least it's cheaper and it works.

I have had a lot more success with other natural products- the Trader Joe's and Seventh Generation dishwasher detergents work great. Burt's Bees has lots of really wonderful baby care products, lotions, lip balms and other cosmetics that I recommend. (What I've tried has been great, anyway). Tom's of Maine makes good toothpaste and mouthwash. We use castille soap often. Trader Joe's has a great citrus shampoo- works nicely, cheap and smells divine! Vinegar-water is an excellent all-purpose cleaner. (A little vinegar is also good in lieu of fabric softener for the laundry). Baking soda and lemon together can scour pans and clean the sink. I moisten cloth baby wipes with a solution of water, castille soap, almond oil (olive oil is good too) and lavender essential oil. I'm probably forgetting other successful all-natural products we use.

OK, Sweetcheeks is really making a mess of what remains of his dinner. I think he's done.