Thursday, April 22, 2010

"I don't want to be the angry mom that yells all day!!"

I don't. And I am.

I am making a real effort the last few weeks to give an order and then give time to allow the appropriate response. And yes I say order. I am not requesting that the children come to dinner, we sit down and all eat at the table together, we just do, it is not optional so it is not a request. It never changes and it is mandatory, the exception is if one is sick.

I am trying to remain calm when talked back to, and when a certain toddler throws a horrendous fit. I am trying to defuse the situation when I can, pick my battles, and say yes as often as I possibly can without spoiling or overindulging.

I expect a lot out of my children, I am afraid one of the last things I have been expecting out of them is for them to be children. Obedience, manners, patience, kindness, gentleness, and then behave like a child. Frankly my children give me being a child (smurfyness my sister says), high energy, rough and tumble, impatience, typically good manners, and rarely they obey without punishment, time out, trip to room, taken away toys, and then only for a short time. They are both very high energy and strong willed, with parents like us what else should I expect. Mr. T and I have turned out to be far more disciplined and hard nosed parents than either of us expected to or wanted to be.

I am realizing I might be expecting too much, ok I KNOW I am expecting too much. There is a place for discipline, and obedience, but they are still children and need to be able to be children. So I am working on my expectations. We have been having some major behavioral issues with MAT. I will not get into them here but they are very inappropriate and more than I can or will tolerate. I am trying to get to the root of the trouble and modify my behavior to help him to modify his.

We are having more discussions, I ask more questions and give him time to give me the answers. We are modifying the timeout and individual playtime routines. I am really trying to find a solution that doesn't involve being red in the face daily. We have tried that for 3 years, believe me, yelling all day doesn't work, I know I tried it. But this seems to be working.

One of our major problems is retaliation. I send MAT to his room and while in there he digs a hole in the wall, or throws things out the window, or draws on the wall, or rips up a book. These behaviors all get him in more trouble and often cause me to yell more. When I asked him why? He replied, "Well I was already in trouble and I was really mad so I thought, why not if I am already in trouble why not a little more."

That was last week.

This week we have been talking about consequences and thinking before doing. I let him know if he is thinking about something and he isn't sure if it is a good idea or not, it probably isn't, but he can come talk to be and check. We have also been talking about setting a good example for RAT and Little T #3. RAT already does everything MAT does and this often ends up with RAT holding the bag that MAT stole.

He seems to be getting it and has had a few requests, like he wants to play by himself sometimes. This requires him playing in a room by himself behind a locked door, as this is the only way to keep little brother out. This requires trust, and that has to be earned. He is working very hard to be deserving. And he is clearly thinking things through. Yesterday he was sent to his room, the only time in the whole day, for a snowball of offenses over about a half hour concluding with him telling his brother and myself that he doesn't like us. I told him he needed to go have a time out in his room and he then needed to come down and apologize for hurting our feelings.

He went up very frustrated and emotional and about 20 seconds after he got in his room he came out and stated, "Mom, you probably shouldn't send me to my room cause I am thinking of making a bad decision while in there." To which I replied, "Thank you for thinking before doing and you may sit on the landing". He sat for his timeout without complaint and then came down and apologized, with hugs, and the rest of the day was reasonably peaceful. 

We are limiting the tv, trying to find constructive outlets for energy and finding ways for MAT to play without little RAT Godzilla distroying everything. I am counting the number or times I raise my voice in a day, It is still higher than I would like, but I am still working on it. I have my own anger issues and temper I need to square away so that my children can see that just because one is angry they do not need to lash out. That one can be furious and still be civil and kind. One does not need to yell or throw things to feel better, that one isnt mine, that is Mr. T's problem, a favorite of RAT's to emulate. I am working on being a better mom, I am convinced this will make me happier and healthier and in turn giving us happier healthier children. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting a Little Heavy for a minute.

So, while filling out MAT's school paperwork, we signed him up for Kindergarten last week, I stumbled upon a conundrum when it asked his race. Clearly he Caucasian, descended of MANY European countries on my side alone. And on is fathers side he is Hungarian and Italian, that comes from Mr. T's Mother. Mr. T's father is Puerto Rican. This made Mr. T's forms very easy to fill out, says Grandma T. "He was always marked Hispanic, or I wrote in Puerto Rican. He was more Puerto Rican than any percentage of any other ethnicity." Simple enough, it really that simple?

Enter the now present "multiracial" box. Perfect! A box I can check, my children are in fact multiracial. Funnily enough until I got married I never thought of our relationship as being interracial. Mr. T was just a really cool guy who I fell in love with and wanted to marry and spend the rest of my life with. His race never even came into my thinking, though it did come into others minds and out of their mouths, but we wont go into that here. That is not what this is about. I have noticed, in most cases, "multiracial" is associated with people of strictly 1 black and 1 white parent.  Or I suppose it is associated with couples who look "more different" than my  husband and I do. Is it correct for me to check the "multiracial" box for my children? I think I should, so I do. And I am not going to lie, it gots a strange look from the woman who took my paperwork at the school, from the speech therapist who MAT sees once a week on his first day, even the receptionist at the doctors office. Clearly they see "multiracial" marked they expect something much different than my children.

So what is the rule? My children are 3/4 various European descents, and 1/4 Puerto Rican which puts them in the Hispanic realm. This, and I could be wrong though I don't think I am, to me says they are multiracial. Honestly they are probably more Puerto Rican, percentage wise, than they are of any other single European descent.  But we don't count the Scotch, Irish, Italian, Hungarian, German, French, English, whatever independently by percentage. They are all Caucasian so they are counted together and thusly Caucasian is the higher percentage. BUT What % does one have to be to claim themselves as any specific race or ethnicity? Is it a personal choice? Is it your outward appearance?

 If it were based solely on appearance, they would both be categorized as Caucasian. There is no doubt in my mind. They have blue eyes and are fair skinned. One has brown hair and the other has blond. They are "average white kids" by most anyone's standards. But the question of  percentage still looms. I mark them as multiracial and Hispanic and Caucasian whenever I can, but when only given one choice I pick multiracial, and when that isn't an option I usually leave it blank, but I want to mark Hispanic.

Might seem silly to many people, but it is a very real question for me...for us. How I answer this question could have very real repercussions down the road. Say for scholarships, grants, college applications, these are very real situations where I do not want to have answered this question wrong and cost my children funds for education. Not to mention the irrational fear that some form of segregation might someday return and how i marked a box when my children were little could take them way from me. I understand that it is irrational and HIGHLY unlikely, I REALLY get that.  But I bet Americans of Japanese descent never thought their country would imprison them for their ethnic heritage during war time either.

It is so silly, one would think the boxes wouldn't and shouldn't matter, but when you are talking about the future of your children, it makes a big difference. I normally do not speak so much on race, because honestly I don't think about it that often, but with the school sign up and the census, I have been thinking on it often. I suppose I will have to contact a government office to hear how they would label my children. Because we all know what a headache improperly filling out government paperwork can be and they ALWAYS have the right answer. That is sarcasm people, but in all honesty I bet someone will have the answer, somewhere, I just have to find them.

The Saga Continues.

You all remember the two very LARGE hole that Neighbor and Mr. T put in the yard looking for the waterline last fall, right? Well I am sad to say they are still there. But the past weekend brought some good fortune and it also brought Mr. T home for the weekend, the first he has not been working since sometime in March. Due to his lack of being home and then his fortune of being here all weekend, the man was VERY  productive.

Saturday 9 am. Mr. T comes down from his sleep in dressed and ready to move. I ask what's with the clothes. He mumbles something about stump grinding...and Neighbor would be here in a few minutes. Um, ok, great! This way we (I) will no longer have to worry about ruining mower by hitting a stump. Wonderful. He wasn't kidding about the speediness of the arrival. Neighbor was here within the hour and the grinding began. In about an hour and a half I believe they took out 12 or 13 stumps. There are still 2 in the pasture and they missed one in the yard, but with such a vast improvement, I am not complaining.

I knew the big holes in the yard were not just bothering me, and I was right. Mr.T had a plan all along. He has been, unknowingly to me, searching for a trencher to rent locally. Neighbor mentioned, in passing, why not check with other neighbor's, like maybe one down the road specifically who runs a geothermal business and uses trenchers daily.

Light bulb. Mr. T hopped in the truck and off he went to introduce himself and rent the trencher. He returned about 20 minutes later. He said that they are very nice and the guy woudl be down in an hour, and when he mentioned "renting it" Geo-man said, "no worries, I will be down in an hour." Me thinks we might just have the very best neighbors ever. Really. Mr. T's plan only included trenching from hole to hole, not from house to pump, he was sure we found the only break in the line, but more on that later.

Geo-man, who's name I do know, arrived and checked all kinds of things out. He and Mr. T walked the property looked at our heating system, and talked about a nearly free geothermal option (but more on that later), He also helped us locate our septic, which is very much appreciated. So after about a half hour of wondering and chatting they got to work and in 15 minutes we had a very long trench from one hole to another. We thanked Geo-man and on his way he went.

About that time Neighbor came back, this time with the tiller on the back of his tractor. He had already roughed up the new garden sight earlier in the week and was back to make it beautiful, which he did. It is absolutely gorgeous and I cannot wait to get out and get dirty and plant things. Sadly we are still a few weeks away from planting things without frost resistance. But those lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, and broccoli WILL go out this week.

All this was done by 2 pm and Mr. T, after a trip to the hardware store, was happily instaling the waterline. I had water in the barn by 5 Saturday evening. It was beautiful, for about 20 seconds, until Mr. T realized the total lack of pressure indicated that there was another break in the line. Back to the digging and working, tomorrow.

Sunday 9 am. I wake from my sleep in and Mr. T greets me at the bottom of the stairs. "I am going to go dig, ok?"  Of course I respond something along the lines of whatever...mumble mumble.  Out he goes. Dug a new trench, BY HAND, from the house to the first hole, punched a hole in the foundation block and ran a new waterline. At this point he was still convinced that the break was in the line from the house to the first hole. MY guess was that it was right at the pump, because it is in the barn and under concrete. After the new line was installed and hooked up. I was proven to be right.
Mr. T came in from trying out the new line and said " I HATE it when you're right." And then trudged back out to dig a hole under the barn. I replied, " I usually LOVE it when I am right, but in this case I HATE it too! I love you! You're the greatest!"

One more hole later and a new connection under the pump and VOILA! We have running water in the barn with a frost free hydrant! Thrilled! Water, and water pressure and conveniently located. Mr. T also put a T in the line so we can install another hydrant out of the barn for the garden and outdoor duck pen. I am still going to be carrying buckets to water the ducks in the winter, BUT I will only be carrying them 20 or 30 feet not 200. And I will be carrying them through the barn, and NOT 2+ feet of snow. Huzzah! I am VERY happy!

I think Neighbor's skid steer is going magically appear this afternoon and fill in ALL the holes.Again, YAY! No more fighting to keep little children out of the holes. And maybe if we are very lucky, we will also get the house graded today, probably not going to happen, but one can hope. Grading the house and building the new duck house were actually on the docket for last weekend, but the skid steer had other obligations so we rolled with and it ended up being better than expected.

If we can just find someone with a jackhammer to get rid of these pesky front steps we will be golden...of course then we HAVE to build the deck... more on these things later.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

stinky cheese?

Catching up a bit...

I finally got on the ball and ordered our goslings. I ordered 6 American Buff geese, which are an American critical breed. They are supposed to have the best disposition and be very quiet and they are also beautiful. I also ordered 5 Embden geese, they are all white and have blue eyes. They will both be for eating but the Embden in particular. We plan on keeping 2 mated pairs of the Buff. Of course I am the main dispatcher so when butcher time comes around I might not have the energy, stomach, or will for butcher. I suppose we can take them to the processor this year, I think it might be worth it. But at least we know what we will be having for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, since I will NOT be going anywhere those holidays this year. Goose, it's what's for dinner.

I also finally got my butt in gear and started some seeds indoors. Yes, I know it is the middle of April, I should have started these weeks ago, but I didn't, sue me. I have my peppers (rainbow sweet peppers), tomatoes (Green Zebra, Caspian Pink, and Reisentraub and I am contemplating a seedless hybrid that I have), basil, eggplant, broccoli, and three types of lettuce.

I had a nice little side of 5 asparigus with my lunch yesterday. My plants are awake but tey are  not fully producing  yet, I hope to be up to my eyeballs by next week or so, one can hope right. I am cleaning up the Strawberry beds, but not clearing them of their protective blanket just yet, we still have the threat of frost for another month. I am not getting much done and our new garden bed is about a week behind from last year. Our wonderful neighbore tills it for us when he tills his. Since it is a benevolent act of kindness I dont ask him when he is going to do it, nor do I push him to get it done.

If I want it done on my schedual I should till it myself or PAY someone to do it. I have considered both, but the boys love to watch the big tractor ripping up the yard, I can't take that away. Plus I have the back garden that I can plant along the southe side of and get descent results. Lettuce and other greens dont seem to be too bothered by the Jungalone. I may plant a row or two to satisfy my hunger for greens, or maybe try some in a pot...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hark in the distance, what IS that?

A few days ago I looked out my kitchen window and saw what looked like a big rock slowly crossing the field. I knew instantly what it was and where it was going, and it was SO not happening on my watch.

The area to the left and behind the field is a swampy boggy place several acres around. This big sucker was plotting along from there to our little 1/4 acre mud hole duck pond to the right and forward of the photo.

I sprang into action. I knew what I was going to do...first I called my dad because honestly for this big guy to get from where he started to this point it had probably been 1/2 an hour, so I knew I had time to chat a bit.

I called Dad, to confirm my strategy then I finished dinner, which took 5 minutes, and then sprang into action. I went to the barn and gathered a duck barrel, or a 35 gallon barrel that was repurposed into a duck house by removing one end,  and trudged into the field. I positioned the barrel in front of the big snapper, and waited for him to puff up and draw back. When he did I scooted the barrel as close as I could and then flipped him into the barrel by the butt of his shell. TADA! Snapping turtle in a bucket!

Now it is a good idea to point out snapping turtles are dangerous and ill tempered critters, do not mess with them unless you know what you are doing. This was fortunately  NOT the first snapper I have encountered. And yes it was necessary for me to stop him from getting to my pond, I am sure it already has all the snappy residents it needs and did NOT need another dinner plate sized shell inhabitant. Yes it was a BIG cranky fella.

My original thought was turtle soup, but with the pregnancy, reptiles are an no for pregnant mums, AND MR. T working crazy hours and not being home to supervise the kiddo's whilst I work, I decided this guy would get a reprieve. I took him several miles away to the marsh and let him go. He will be happy there. And I am sure will get very fat on duckling, just not mine.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I am seriously fighting the urge to sew maternity clothes and loads of little bitty girl things. I do not need maternity clothes yet, or at all really, and to begin with it is far too early to do either. Both my previous pregnancy's were mostly through the winter so I should have a massive amount of clothing in storage that I will fit with no problem. I do not want to make a bunch of items I will probably not wear. Lets face it I will end up wearing old tshirts and a belly band or dresses that aren't maternity anyway. There is no point in making things that won't be worn.

Along similar lines, I will NOT make girlie items unless we know Little T #3's gender. I made the mistake of sewing girlie things for RAT during his pregnancy, with the first two we waited till they were born to find out their gender, and then was sad when I had to put all those goodies in storage because, well, as we all know RAT wasn't a girl. Not that I was sad that RAT was not a girl, I am and was thrilled to have two sons, but I was sad that all those carefully created and loved items would not be worn. As a result I am holding off till we know...anything really. I suppose I do not have a need to sew girlie things anyway, we have a 50 gallon tote full of items that would have been for RAT.

I think I will fulfill my sewing urges with some new pillows and perhaps a quilt. I suppose one can never have too many pillows or quilts...or at least I can tell myself that. Or maybe I will spend my time converting far oversized t-shirts to rouched maternity t's... NO no I will make pillows and quilts, and shopping bags! Perfect!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lemon Garlic Pasta

So being an expecting mommy with a typically queasy tummy about this time, I have a few tried and true, fast and easy, and nutritious meals I keep under my belt. Tonight, it was warm in my home and even though I have been feeling great, with the warmth I was feeling less than great when it came time to prepare dinner. So I dug into my fridge and pantry to find inspiration and into my memory to find a recipe.

We always have cooked boneless skinless chicken in the fridge. Ever since Mr. T started eating healthier we cook 3 lbs of chicken 2 times a week and then it is ready made for salads or in my case protein without the cooking smell. It has been a blessing always having cooked food on hand. Granted someone has to cook it, but I can cook it if I don't have to eat it immediately after. We also had some cooked carrots left over from Easter, I cooked too many, but we like carrots around here so they are getting eaten every day. The cupboards are a bit bare as I haven't been to the grocery in...a while. We did have a box of macaroni...inspiration hit.

To the fridge where I pulled the minced garlic, butter, and lemon juice. I was ready for dinner.

To make this you really only need some kind of pasta, lemon juice, and garlic. The butter can be substituted with oil, the chicken can be substituted with shrimp, and the carrots can be substituted with any veggitable really. Here we go.

Lemon Garlic Pasta
1 c. cooked cubed boneless skinless chicken breast
1-2 c. sliced steamed baby carrots
1 Tblsp. parsley finely chopped
1/3 c. butter OR 1/3 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tblsp. minced garlic
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
1 lb. pasta (whole wheat works very well with this)
salt and pepper to taste

Boil water, add pasta, cook according to directions. In large pan melt butter (or heat oil), I use butter because I like it. Add garlic, let it brown a bit, then add carrots, cubed chicken, parsley and salt and pepper. Saute 3 minutes or till hot. Drizzle lemon juice over ingredients. Cook 2 minutes more. Drain pasta. Combine drained pasta and lemon garlic mixture. Enjoy!

My children LOVE this, and even if they didn't I would still make this because I love it. It only takes as long as it takes for water to boil and pasta to cook. Fresh raw ingredients can also be used, they just add to the cook time. I like it best when I substitute shrimp for the chicken and add chopped broccoli to the carrots. Lime juice can be substituted if you want to try this with beef, it is also a nice combination.

This basic recipe lends itself to many ingredients, is an easy leftover solution, and it is delicious.

Little T. #3

Yes, that's right folks, we are officially expecting our third child. We found out a few weeks ago and were keeping it a secret till Easter. We conveniently were having the holiday at our home and *ALMOST  everyone we wanted to tell first, was present. Of course Mr. T ended up working all day, can't complain about holiday pay, so I gave MAT the honors of spilling the beans to everyone. After the holiday and a few messages and phone calls later and the whole world can now be told. We are due at the very end of November/very beginning of December, but are unsure about a "true" due date as we haven't been to the doctor yet. I am feeling surprisingly wonderful. REALLY surprisingly. I haven't been sick once.

I will tell you something that is probably TMI about my previous pregnancy's, but I am telling you anyway. I threw up, at least once a day, everyday, for 6 months with MAT and at least once a day, every day, for 5 months with RAT. Yeah. So the fact that I only feel queasy for the first hour after I get up and then after 9:30 pm, is actually quite amazing. I always joke that I would have 10 kids if I were lucky enough to have easy pregnancies. If this keeps up I might just have to live up to that. I am tired all the time, but this time of year I tend to be tired all the time anyway. A combination of early bird children and loads of work on the homestead equals a regularly tired Momma. I am doing much less but just as tired. I am also not really sleeping. I guess I am trading off puking for waking every 3 hours, personally I will take the trouble sleeping over puking any day.

Mr. T has responded incredibly nonchalantly, not to imply he isn't excited, because he is, very much so. But his plan is just to work as much as he can, and ask me at least once a day if I am feeling ok. He isn't freaking out, which he really did with MAT's pregnancy and still did with RAT's. I think this time I am feeling better so he can relax. He told me the other day, "The thing I am most excited about, aside from another child of ours in this world of course, is the tax break. This is one of those rare births where the child is only here for a matter of days, but you get to claim them for the WHOLE year. How sweet is that?" My husband is so funny. At least I think so.

MAT keeps telling everyone it's a girl, we have hopes, but no way to check as of yet and no idea if we will actually find out once the time has come we can find out. He has been asking for a sister since before RAT was born. I think we might "need" to, for MAT's sake. I think he might be crushed if he get's another brother and some time to prepare for a NOT sister could be good. But he is very excited. When he told my mom he said "Grandma, pretty soon we are gonna have a girl baby, it's growing in Mommy's tummy and when it's born it's gonna come out her bagina (he has trouble with "v" sounds)." Isn't that the cutest thing EVER!

RAT seems to be as excited as I expect a 2 year old to be. He doesn't get it, isn't excited *yet*, and doesn't care to be. I think he will be more excited around October or so. Maybe he will get excited when it is more evident... or maybe will be indifferent about the whole thing. We are reading books on being a big brother and playing with the baby dolls. Both boys enjoy the books and baby dolls, so we have that going for us.

We are over the moon and don't plan on coming down anytime soon.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Amazing what a coat of paint can do... and loads of sewing handiwork.

A few weeks ago, ok like a month and a half ago, we purchased some new paint for a few rooms. We purchased an aqua for the little bedroom, this happened to be a NO VOC paint, and Mr. T knocked the painting out in a few hours. We also purchased a mis-tint in a LOW VOC paint for our upstairs bathroom (we will get to that paint later).

I love NO VOC paint. Aside from damp smell, the paint didn't smell AT ALL. I wouldn't have known anyone was painting if I hadn't let Mr. T paint. Now of course this room will look totally different when the full bed is gone and the crib and changing table are back in it, but for now it is just right as a guest room. And more on that at a later date...

I have a thing for a child's rooms being rainbow and bright colored because I think it is cheerful and fun, and a child's room should be both. I  like to quilt in for children because I think it gives a texture and keeps interest when there are a lot of different prints used.

I often quilt with rainbow colored fabrics for my kids. I made the curtains shortly after we moved in, when this room was still RAT's nursery. They were made with scraps and I quite love them, they look amazing from outside the house as well, not that anyone sees them. I made the two quilted pillow cases that are not on the bed, just after MAT was born. And I made the two quilted pillow cases on the bed just two days ago. I made the tan bedspread too, not that it is rainbow or really quilted, but I made it just the same. In fact the only three textile things in the room I did not make are the blue bed spread at the foot of the bed, that was the one I took to college, the green bandana print table cloth in the corner, was a thrift store find, and the cream blanket that hangs on the back of the rocking chair, was a gift for RAT on his birth. Everything else fabric that is visible, I made. I feel like this room is near finished. Of course it is, I am going to mess it all up soon.