Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Why I Can't Blog

You know how sometimes there's this big chunk of bullsh!t in your life that isn't bloggable (or in my case, several not-major-but-still-unbloggable-bullsh!ts) and because you can't blog about that, but it's IN your life, and it COLORS your life, you can't seem to blog about anything ELSE in your life either?

Nothing major happened. Swearsies.

I just have ongoing Stuff (annoyances, not even real stressors) (but that still aren't fit for public consumption) (although YOU, yes you, I will email you anything you want to know, I love a good vent or rant) and being too venty on the internet seems rude, but not mentioning it seems dishonest, and I used to do a great job (to me) (if I say so myself) (brushes shoulders) of treading that line just fine, and balancing it well, and I'm not sure I'm good at it anymore.

Anyway, lest this sound like the blog version of vague-booking (it's not! NOTHING BAD HAPPENED, I'm just crazy busy* and easily annoyed, apparently), I will stop. And just say hi.

I just wrote a (fun) ranty email and it made me miss blogging. So, hi.

I am getting caught up. It will be bland, because.

Three months is the longest I've gone without blogging. I have so many things started and half-written but waiting on pictures or complete sentences or lots of deleting of profanity (or deletion altogether). But maybe I can get back to normal.

Oh and also I had some teal dyed into my hair, because a Lady of a Certain Age needs to have more fun in her ponytail, amiright? Here, a picture:

(*If you look at my Goodreads list you will see I'm obviously not that busy. But please no comments about how it "must be nice" to have so much time to read because just no.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Anneliese, 5 1/2, Forever Please

Anneliese is five and a half now; she is rainbows and awkward giggles and big feelings and learning to read and sweaty snuggles and tangled hair and love notes and art projects and sillies and earnestness and questions and green peppers and sparkles and sad tears and sleepovers and constant singing and baking and capital letters written backwards. She is... everything.

"When I drink Sprite and then burp with my mouth closed, it sort of makes my nose feel sparkly inside!"

"If I had a dog, I would name it Silent."

"Did you choose my birthday to be in October because of all the pretty colored leaves?"

"You can't even see the sun because of all the clouds! This is the worst day of my life!"

"I wish there were never such a thing called winter!" (On a day when it was 55 and sunny.)

She is upset on days when she doesn't think she is wearing enough colors. She insists that her favorite fruit is coconuts. In the plural, always. She still towers over the other kids in her class. She sings wrong lyrics to every song on the radio, but consistently, because she memorizes what she thinks she hears insanely fast. She is the free spirit counterpart to balance Nathan's seriousness; they still adore and cling to each other in ways that amaze us, because to be honest we don't understand it. She is a thoughtful and profound little thinker. She approaches the world by assuming that everything is out to delight her, and it usually does. She sits in her feelings well, whether they are high or low. She cries and withdraws when she is sad. She invites everyone in the world in when she is happy. She is wonderful.

My feelings about FIVE FOREVER continue, if you're curious. Five is so great. And halfway through five deserves half a pineapple-coconut pound cake, two flowers planted into a gift bag, and a huge grin.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Alleluia! And Eggs!

We had our nephew Liam for Easter weekend this year, in preparation for taking him with us to Bumgarner beach week - which means we had FOUR kids up and ready before the earliest service, which is a new record for us!

And when I say us, I mean Mark, because... I did nothing. That's not true. I spent a lot of time blow drying my hair and brushing it one hundred times or whatever. Anyway. Mark did it, he gets the credit, he is a rock star, and they all looked adorable.

My kids, being kids of a choir mom, are among the first children at church every week. On Easter, that means getting to put the first flowers on the cross. Basically every year.

We usually have to go back after the later services and Sunday school hour to see it fully flowered, but I sort of like it empty like this, mostly wire, only a few flowers. It seems the most appropriate for the chilly wee hours before everybody gets all He Is Risen excited, yknow?

I also took Nathan and Anneliese to the Easter Vigil last night (a first!) and that was really great.

Nathan got to ring a bell as we all processed from the courtyard into the sanctuary.

(Liam and Charlotte stayed home with Marky, since they - the babies, not Mark - were on the verge of Easter breakdowns. It's a late service for three-year-olds.)

And then we got to the beach and did the traditional egg hunt, except without my sister to make it happen (SAD FACE WE MISSED HER), which means I did, which means Nathan did most of the hiding work, because I'm either really lazy or really smart.

But it was a hit anyway, and now it's time for the beach! Happy Easter! Alleluia!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Things I Am Crabby About

Happy April! I am crabby.

1.) I don't know if it's a cold or allergies or what, but my head is killing me and I am sneezy and this is terrible timing for going to the beach next week.

2.) It is still cold out. It's getting ridiculous. I cannot remember a winter that lingered this long. We are back to life, back to reality, spring break is over, yet it somehow isn't spring yet. Spring, you suck, and you're over a month late, and I'm pissed at you.

3.) This morning in preschool chapel, they celebrated Easter. IN THE MIDDLE OF HOLY WEEK. There are still crushed palms on the floor that have been poignant and achy (appropriately so) for the Lent services all week; I don't want to watch kids doing a choreographed hallelujah cheer in the middle of Holy Week. I mean what? Why not wait until next week? It'll be actual Eastertide then. Today would have been much more appropriate to do a lesson around the Last Supper, or even the Hosanna parade from Palm Sunday (since they were on spring break last week). Not Easter. Not yet. We are doing ourselves and our kids a disservice when we cheapen church for them. TELL THEM THE WHOLE STORY. (Hi I have officially become a curmudgeon.)

4.) Delta changed my schedule home from the Blathering in Seattle in a few weeks (my connection between Salt Lake City and Atlanta is now a misconnect) and that's a normal thing they're totally allowed to do, and they don't owe me any particular connection points, and I certainly didn't pay to stop in SLC for any amount of time, and I had to look on the timetables and then use a million search filters to force the website to offer me that option anyway, because the schedule is terrible, but I WANTED the stop in Salt Lake City (hi I am a worker-of-the-system), because I had an hours-long layover and dinner plans with Liz. And now I don't get that. And it's not the end of the world, but: CRABBY. (Mostly sad.)

5.) The stupid B key on my stupid computer still doesn't work, and that makes it hard to type an all-caps word like CRABBY.

6.) There is a general underlying assumption about my time: that I am around, available, and at everyone's disposal, to schedule (or unschedule) things for me, and even at the last minute it's assumed that's fine. I, uh... I exist outside of what People need me for. I am not a public commodity. And yes this is cryptic because Some Of The People Who Do This are reading here, and I am too chicken sh!t (and exhausted) (and passive aggressive, apparently) to address it directly, I just need to be pissy about it and vent for a second. I feel gross and taken for granted. (If you think you might be Some People -- check yoself. Whether it's about me or any other stay-at-home-parent you know. Our time is not "free time" or "available time" unless you PLAN and ASK. End rant.)

6.) April Fool's Day makes the whole internet annoying. Pranks are annoying to me anyway (#teamRoss) and half of what people post are not even pranks or April Fool's jokes. Saying something that isn't true? Not a prank. Shut up. It's annoying. (And companies who need to make their ads and promos into jokes are even worse than the general population.)

7.) Nathan gifted Anneliese one of the clay boat hulls he had carefully molded for his science project (the project is done now), and she broke it into a million tiny pieces and put it in a ziplock bag. And then looked at me confused when I told her it isn't really nice to break something someone gives you, especially if they made it. She was all, "why? he gave it to me so it's mine." How can kids be so wonderful and have such awful moments? (Not singling out Anneliese, either. Charlotte has been tantruming in the pre-dawn hours every day for the last week, and Nathan took a huge amount of nagging to do said science project in the first place. IT'S NOT MY PROBLEM I DON'T WANT TO MANAGE IT.)

(I got lost in the Wal-Mart parking lot a few weeks ago -- yes really, shut up, it was more complicated than it sounds but I don't care enough about explaining myself to explain myself -- but then I found this bright scarf, and it came in a 2-pack but I threw the other one away immediately, so anyway at least I have a relatively pretty $3 scarf? Whatever.)

Next week will be 75 and we will be at the beach and life will be less annoying right?

Monday, March 30, 2015

And Then March Happened, Apparently

That thing where you are months behind so you just post a lot of random thoughts, because people like that better than carefully crafted themed posts anyway right? Hi, welcome to the March (waaaaaay later than March) edition of I Don't Even Know What This Post is About.

Okay so the most important thing is that my sister had a baby! After a pregnancy lasting forty weeks plus four months (she is a dolphin, you didn't know?) (ask me how I know about gestation length of dolphins anyway *side eye*Nathan*) she delivered her third son (yes THIRD) (yes, her oldest is Charlotte's age) (yes, she would accept any of your prayers for sanity) and anyway, meet my newest nephew Everett! He is perfect.

Also! Ali turned one! ONE! I can't believe it's been a year. I love her so much.

The weather got warm and the girls had been asking Mark to plant something, so he took them to pick out flowers and some veggie seeds, and he pulled some dying shrubs out of an area near the pool, and they turned that space into a little garden.
The girls are totally taken with it. (Nathan too, although mostly he is too cool to act like it.)

Oh! Speaking of cool ("cool") Nathan also did a weather project where he needed to write a report including a media/visual component about some weather phenomenon. He chose monsoons. He did a good job researching and writing the paper, and then he made a little video to show why monsoons can damage houses even if you put plastic on your roof, like some people in monsoon-prone areas have to do.

I'm not sure this video actually proves anything, other than he likes to build with legos (and make videos), but it still tickles me. You know you want to see it. Right?

Another random Nathan thing, from the grocery store one night: "Hey this is the same kind of bread Jesus ate! You can tell by the shape!"
(Pretty good endorsement for Kroger, yes? JESUS HIMSELF ETC ETC.)

Hmmmm I... have no idea what else happened in March. Let's look at some pictures.

Anneliese, wearing a lot of colors, and not one but two headbands, including one with a donut on it, because obviously:

Me with all the kids, taking a walk on the greenway, proving once again that it is difficult to get very many people to look at the camera at once:

Charlotte, looking half teenager and half baby:

Perfectly reasonable outfits for a Target run:

And! Marky made me a brownie in a skillet one night when I had a random hankering, and he sort of made it up from a boxed mix, and then he throw ice cream on top, and it was delicious. You know how some things are just exactly what you had a taste for, except even a little bit better? He wins everything.

We ate it on the couch in front of Netflix, because we are good at being grownups.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Chaos Theory of Parenthood

Okay so my friend Arwen has this theory (well, her husband does) about chaos in parenting. The theory posits that Chaos Mode - that thing with young kids where you feel like you're just trying to keep your head above water, putting out fires one at a time, but not necessarily kicking ass at any of it (or even particularly wanting to), because Chaos - happens in the season when the number of kids you have is greater than the average of their ages.

Simple, right? Yet kind of genius.

baking with three kids: a comedy of errors

Okay so if we don't account for Ali, we have 3 kids averaging age 5.4, which is well out of Chaos Mode (and perhaps entering into Delightful Mode).

When we do account for Ali, that's 4 kids averaging age 4.3, which means we have juuuuust recently eeked out of Chaos Mode. Which explains why the last few months have felt fairly settled and relaxed.

This theory also accounts for the fact that a first child, even just one, feels hard and exhausting and chaotic for the whole first year (1 kid, "average" age is less than 1) while being alone with just, say, your third kid? Even as a newborn? Feels like SWEET SWEET FREEDOM.

You can be more specific with this if you do the ages by month, go read Arwen's blog post. Don't read it if you have a newborn. Don't read it if you have twin toddlers. Don't read it if you have 3+ kids, none of whom are school aged yet (looking at you, dear sister). If you're in those camps, your energy is better spent on Chaos than math, because I promise - you are still in Chaos Mode. And will be for years.

But I'm here on the other side, to tell you - the chaos settles! It does! Babies are cute and full of wonder and all that, and yes, enjoy it, of course. But know that the chaos settles. And in the meantime, you're doing just fine. Don't expect more of yourself than Chaos Mode allows.

XOXO, parents of the internet. Hashtag: it gets even better.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ali, Adored: Pool Version

So here's a random icy day activity -

Nathan was texting ("texting") with Uncle Nick and found out they were taking Ali to one of the indoor city pools, and talked his (our) way into joining them, and so suddenly in the middle of an icy cold week we got all swimmy and had a fun afternoon.

And I daresay I haven't seen a cousin so adored in... maybe ever. They see her every day. And yet.

Friday, February 27, 2015

So This Is "Spring Break"

We have had a spell of trecherous* weather that has resulted in like nine days of missed school, and they haven't officially announced how/when we will make it up, but I'm assuming we just enjoyed our "spring break" of sorts (fine by me, we have no spring break plans over actual spring break, we are taking ours later anyway to go to the beach with my dad like we do every year).

(*The NC version of trecherous = some legit snow, some legit ice, and a lot of days - A LOT of days - waiting for all the icy patches to melt on even the smallest of shady no-light back roads, so the buses can safely drive, because we ain't got no snowplows, etc etc etc.)

The first day it snowed, the kids wanted nothing to do with it. They stood inside and watched it and were glad for a day off school, but I couldn't even beg them into the yard to play. I think they were traumatized. Their last snow experience was something else. (It was a sheet of ice and no fun for playing that day anyway, not that it stopped everyone else in the county, according to my instagram feed.)

Once we had some real snow, I went out and walked around in it (enchanted like a proper southerner) and eventually the kids joined me.

Some pictures of the snow, because it's still novel enough (or so we claim? even though it has happened several years in a row now?) that it warrants photographing.

Our backyard:

Across our front yard, at the last snow which was really heavy and wet:

By the time Mark and the kids were building a snowman in the front yard, it was super warm out and Mark was in a t-shirt. Yes, it took baring the grass to get enough snow for even that tiny snowman. This is... so North Carolina:

Snow selfie:

Also, find me something more delightful than a five-year-old who is delighted by swinging in the snow. Go ahead. Find it. (It doesn't exist. This is the most delightful.)

Oh! And! I bought new snow boots back in the fall (for no good reason, they were just there at TJ Maxx and impossibly cute) and I was not ashamed about feeling glad for an excuse to wear them.

In related news, I had a whole rant ready about how annoyed I am at moms (parents) (but mostly I see moms) who complain about having their kids home for days on end. I mean, yes, I get it. We all get stir crazy. Especially when the roads really aren't safe. (I'm not taking chances with that again.) But! There are people who have to miss work when their kids miss school, and therefore miss pay when their kids miss school, and some of those are the same people who need their kids at school for free and reduced lunches, and backpack buddies for weekend groceries, and the like. Having extra mouths to feed for extra meals a day when you're suddenly with a lower paycheck? Sucks. But those are not the people who I see complaining online, it's the white rich ladies and I just want them to shut up, or do it with nuance, or something, Everyone has feelings and I get that, but. Don't be gross. Don't be a dick. That's all.

(This is the short version of my rant because it's snowing and I am still enchanted.)

(Also I've been getting to sleep later, because no school! And Ali hasn't been coming since her parents are off work. And sleeping til 8 makes me a better mom, TRUE STORY. Thanks, snow.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ice Skating and a Chinese Buffet (A Patriotic Holiday)

So today is Presidents Day, except not really, because Nathan has school. Except not really, because I didn't make him go, because I told him it was a holiday (I thought it was! my calendar said so! my calendar doesn't lie! except this one time) and the girls are out of school, and it's supposed to snow/ice tomorrow which means we will be out of school all week anyway, and what's the point of going for just one day? There is no lasting education happening (that won't need to be repeated) in a one-day week. Anyway, I decided to let him stay home and make the most of my mistake.

And that's the story of why Presidents Day isn't Presidents Day this year. Which is... not a story.

But what we did do with our Presidents Day non-holiday is go... ice skating. I KNOW. MY KIDS. I KNOW. But we tried for a trampoline jump place and they were closed, and ice skating was next door, so we tried something new.

Well, the girls did. Nathan wanted none of it. Although he did take some pictures for us. So, thanks for that, grumpy gus?

Charlotte mostly wanted to hold my hands (ask me what makes ME unsteady on skates? a three-year old hanging on me, that's what) but Anneliese got braver and braver and was off in the middle of the rink, pushing around the stacks of buckets they had on hand for young kids. Really cute, and she was so proud. She is asking for ice skating lessons now. Cute.

And then Nathan and Anneliese had been asking for Chinese food (I don't even know) and since I am the kind of lady who loves a Chinese buffet, we had planned a buffet date for the "school holiday" (remember that thing about how I didn't remember it was a holiday, so).

Y'all, they loved it. My picky eaters tried all kinds of new things, they made lists of what they loved and didn't love, they went back for seconds, we had dessert, we left full and happy and it was the most random thing but also delightful.

So we celebrated President's Day by trying ice skating for the first time, and then pigging out with picky eaters at a Chinese buffet. Anything else would have been unamerican, amiright?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Boolerisms, 3 1/2

Charlotte is three and a half, and I was all ready to say what she's up to these days but first - can I just say, three looks SO MUCH BETTER on her than it did on her siblings? Three was awful with Nathan, awfuler with Anneliese, and last summer when Charlotte started showing signs of the dreaded Threenager, I was both dreading it and ready for it.

Dreading because it sucks, and ready because I'm a seasoned mom now, and I know two very important things about Age Three:

1.) It is a phase. Threeness is not an indicator of future good citizenship. She is not being ruined forever by my inability to parent her well, and anyway -

2.) IT'S HER, NOT ME. Whatever three is, it's on her. And it will pass.

Aside: my dad once told me that the best parenting advice he could really give to anyone, with kids at any age, it is this: JUST WAIT. Be patient. Almost everything passes. Even if hard things drag on for very long seasons, just keep loving them, don't give up on them or yourself, just wait. I have decided that's really good advice.) (He knows what he's talking about, he had some rough teenager years (side eye: a Certain Brother Who Shall Remain Nameless).

Anyway, after the whole IT'S HER, NOT ME mantra of dealing with little Charlotte Booler, my third three-year-old, well, it turns out... she's fine. All of those months of Brace For Impact were notsomuch needed.

I mean, she has her moments. She's had a few epic tantrums, usually when someone comes or goes out of our driveway and doesn't wave to her (side-eye: Daddy at 6am on the way to work). She is sometimes shrieky, and often slower than Christmas, both of which make me batty. But! She isn't nearly as three as the others were, or maybe she just isn't there yet, or maybe I just getting better at not internalizing threeness as a parenting failure. (I'M DOING IT. I'M BREEZY.) But whatever is happening, it's easier.

So besides being sunshine with a sometimes side of storms, the most important thing about Charlotte these days is that she is talking so much better. Speech therapy is a dream. She thinks it's fun and games, it's not social-worker-stressful for me, and it's working. She rarely stutters now, unless she's really frustrated. We no longer need to rank her days on a speech scale of 1-5, and she is full of cute opinions she can actually voice, and those adorable things that all three-year-olds say in their own funny three-year-old ways:

Instead of singing her ABC's, she sings the EFG song.
PJs are pee-tays.
Nightgowns are night downs.
Her window: my nindow!
When she has an opinion to declare: I pronounce you... not sharing!
When she's finished something she's proud of: ta-done!
When she needs something: can you help with me?
Her blanket is and remains bank-o-link.
When you ask her a question she isn't sure of: singsong voice i-ah know...?
Her life motto with two older siblings: wait fo me!
Her life fear, being left behind: don' weeve me!

She told me recently that she saw a bear in the backyard. A bear! (There is a Bumgarner family legend about my brother seeing a bear in the hall; it was a mouse.) I have no idea what Charlotte really saw. But she told me in all earnestness that it was a bear, and answered detailed questions about it, and opted to play inside after that in case it came back, and all I could do was clap proudly and say EXCELLENT TALKING, BABY BOOLER.

Speaking of imagination, she and I told a story today, doing that thing you do with your kids where you take turns telling one part at a time, making it up as we go. And it turned out to be about a mom who can climb trees, and in the backyard she found a house of fairy ballerinas in a tiny treetop house. Their favorite food is strawberry spaghetti, and their favorite thing to do is to dance on top of the water in the pool when no one is looking.

She should write a book, is what I'm saying.

She told me last week she was "beautiful like mommy" and then my heart
burst into a million tiny hearts and flew all around in a happy cloud, forever.

Here is Charlotte telling us she's three and a half.

She is eating a cupcake that we picked out at the grocery store for her. We decided if a Booler was ever made into a cartoon character, it might look something like that cupcake.