For Sam

Well…. it only took two years, but I’ve finally added a blog post. And you’d think there would be more photos, but I haven’t been taking very many photos lately. I didn’t post any from Christmas because you have those on your hard drive. So here are the interesting ones from this past year, all four of them. 🙂

 

Lily and Clara

This is what happens when you leave a seven-year-old and a four-year-old
unattended in the bath for too long.
Lily and Clara – 17 March 2012

 

Lily and Nan 30 October 2012

Lily and Nan
30 October 2012

 

Damian_dino_park_03April2013

Damian in the Dino Park
03 April 2013

 

Lily 12 April 2013

Lily
12 April 2013

 

I have a few more really cute ones, but they have other children in them, and I really don’t like to post pictures of other children without their parents’ permission. So this is it.

I’m going to try to write more and take more photos. I’ve been really errant in my duties as the Texas-branch of the Woodings family journalist and photographer.

Thanks for the encouragement, Sam. 🙂

May 10th, 2013 | The Life of a Suburban Mommy | 1 Comment -

Halloween Photos!

I’ve had several requests for Halloween pictures. I’m sorry it took so long, but I am a Photoshop junkie so I manipulate and crop the photos before I upload them, and that took awhile. Hopefully they are worth the wait.

Damian was a dragon, but he did not wear his mask or wings.
Lily was a pink cat.
31 October 2011

Lily saved her money for three months to purchase this wig.
It is a very fun wig.
31 October 2011

This was the very first house, and the kids
are already dipping into the candy.
31 October 2011

We all met at Uncle Rick’s house. Rick ordered pizza, and we
had a great time. The neighborhood was packed with children
trick-or-treating and many of the houses were decorated
like this yard is.
31 October 2011

The adults at this house were having a great time with all
the little kids coming to trick-or-treat.

Clara was a pink Batgirl. There were quite a few Batgirls.
Batgirl is popular.

Cody didn’t dress up but I think he’s scary enough. 🙂

I’m not sure what Logan is dressed as, but his was
the biggest hit. The green lines glowed in the dark.

Lily being a kitty, and
Damian being a dragon.

Adam looked great. 🙂

After trick-or-treating, all the children dumped their candy out
and started trading. After everyone finished the trading,
one of the kids said, “Any candy you don’t like, throw it
into someone else’s pile!”

Clara with her haul for the evening.

Clara is very pleased with her loot. 🙂

A top view of the kids sorting through their candy.

We had a very good time. Rick’s neighborhood was really into the spirit of Halloween.

Matt wants to upload some more photos of the houses. I felt that many of the photos weren’t that great, but Matt said that England doesn’t do Halloween on the scale that Americans do, and he wanted to post the photos for the Brits to see. My flash skills are incredibly weak, and the Halloween night photos really highlight that weakness. But I’ll ask Matt which photos he would like to upload, and I’ll put them on the next post.

As a hardcore hobbyist photographer, it’s very interesting to see my weaknesses in photography accentuated so strongly. It shows exactly where I need practice and improve.

November 4th, 2011 | Photography, The Life of a Suburban Mommy | 1 Comment -

My Personal Midlife Crisis Defined in Elegant Terms

Damian and Lily playing with toy swords
17 March 2011

My life is mundane as FUCK! There. I’ve said it. And I’ve said it with a big bold cuss word so that there is no misinterpretation of the sentiment or the intensity.

I know what a midlife crisis is now. I’ve found my true love. I have the two kids. I have the dogs and the SUV, and very shortly, I will have the 3000 square foot house with the white picket fence. I’ve done everything that we set out for ourselves as responsible and reliable adults, or at least what is expected of us as responsible and reliable adults that we buy into completely. It’s the stuff of movies.

But what happens after the housewife moves into the 3000 square foot house in the suburbs to care for the children and the home? The movie ends after the purchase of the dream home. And the only movies they make after the dream is achieved all concern disaffected, disillusioned housewives leaving their husbands and children to find their soul again in Italy.

My personal midlife crisis involves lack of romance and excitement, lack of personal belief or vision. My ego has been mined out and replaced with the needs of the family as a unit. Each day is a monotonous repeat of the previous day, filled with housework and childcare. Everyday is a thousand yesterdays.

And I want off this fucking train. But I don’t want to leave my husband and children or move to Italy (Nothing against Italy or the Italians — they are awesome. I can understand why Italy is always the chosen home for the resuscitation of the soul.)

I haven’t figured out the answer to this puzzle, but it requires a bold statement. A commitment of the magnitude that only children conceive of because they don’t know that it’s impossible. And their ignorance, naivety, and joy then make the impossible possible. The kind of dream that you lose in your teens or twenties when embarrassment and social understanding curb your faith, worth, and excitement.

I’m tired. I’m tired of hurting all of the time because I have abandoned an important part of myself to live the housewife American dream. Tonight I sketch out ideas of reclamation. Tonight I embrace the socially awkward, geeky, excited, ambitious, silly, awesome part of myself. Tonight I reclaim my ego.

March 20th, 2011 | The Life of a Suburban Mommy | 5 Comments -

Crazy Sexy Sadness

This is a picture of Matt when we first started dating.
He looks so young. He’s only 27 years old in this picture.
December 2000

I’m reading Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr right now. And I’m having a such strong emotional response. I’m only on page seven, and Kris Carr is describing her back story, and I’m thinking, “That’s me! And that’s me! All of this is me!” I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer, but this part is all me:

Because my diet had been based on what to eat to stay slim for the cameras, I had no idea how to be healthy. I’d spend endless energy weighing my food and counting calories and fat grams. Meals were planned around convenience, auditions, and cocktail hour. My mantra: Unwrap, nuke, GO! Vegetables were far too elegant and way too time consuming to buy and make at home. Fake foods encased in plastic or cardboard were time-effective and cheap. The multisyllabic poisons on the label didn’t scare me. I figured, “If it was dangerous they would never sell it to me. Doesn’t the FDA ban the bad stuff?” Besides, all I cared about was the promise on the package. “Look great and lose weight while still enjoying this sensible cake.” I could eat this crap and my ass would be teeny-weeny. Hallelujah!

The early signs and symptoms were obvious, but I couldn’t see them for what they were: a toxic lifestyle and environment that was causing physical and emotional stress. I had a bunch of chronic health problems, including zits, colds, chest infections, allergies, depression (Prozac and wine helped that), bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, acid reflux, yeast infections, and fatigue–all distress signals from an imbalanced body. Yet rather than dealing with the real issues of the tissue, I’d often compound the problem by tossing drugs down my gullet. Over time, the symptoms worsened until they became unbearable.

Next step: Whole Foods, my new pharmacy. In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing. I would race around the store frantically filling shopping carts with books, videos, supplements, powders, potions, and every piece of organic produce I could get my hands on. Kale? Okay! It was dark green and leafy, so it must be good for me. Yet in the back of my mind I wondered what the heck I’d do with this scary-looking weed.

I almost cried reading this passage. My health and my personal environment are so out of control. I’m not centered. I’m not grounded. I’m not whole. And I’m certainly not happy. I’m stressed and sad and drowning.

And I feel so old. I’m 42. I feel like I’ve squandered half of my life on bad health, stress and sadness. But that’s not actually true. I had “Teflon youth” (to use Kris Carr’s words) to protect me when I was younger from our society’s poisonous foods plus I was into sports. I was very healthy through my twenties. But in my thirties, I lost the protection of youth and I had children and became a stay-at-home mom. People don’t realize how very difficult the SAHM gig is. It’s isolating, stressful, lonely and your dreams and your ego get put away in a box under the bed as the children take center stage. You become a shadow in so many ways. And this has been my world for the last six years. The first year was amazing because I had just become a mom and I was so excited and happy, so let’s not count that one. So for the past five years, I’ve been unhappy and unhealthy.

And my family and friends who love me and want to help me have wonderful suggestions of getting back out into the world and reconnecting, perhaps taking a college course or getting involved in club that revolves around one of my hobbies. And those are great ideas. But I think the very foundation of my self has cracked, and that has to be fixed. I live in a very cluttered house, and I’m very very unhealthy. If I wasn’t so terribly unhealthy, I don’t think I would have had such a strong reaction to Kris Carr’s words.

Sadness always seems to eventually lead to realization and then to action. So even though sadness can hurt, I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

February 24th, 2011 | Health, The Life of a Suburban Mommy | 2 Comments -

Explanation

Lily posing for the camera.
08 January 2010

I don’t know if many of you read Benign Chaos, but, in case you do, I feel like I should give an explanation for recent posts over there… you know, the whole “Year of Joy” thing.

You see, I am desperately lonely. I eat every meal alone. I go throughout my day doing my chores all alone. I see Matt for an hour or an hour and a half every night before I go to bed. My days are filled with monotonous, repetitive housework; the children require lots of attention; and I do all of this completely alone, day after day.

So I’m trying to change the pattern. The one I have now is not working. My depression seeps through the house, filling it with a gray, sad fog.

And thus, the Year of Joy. Things have got to change. Myself and my family cannot keep living like this. So, anyways, that’s what all those posts are about.

January 13th, 2010 | The Life of a Suburban Mommy | 1 Comment -

Boundaries

Lily and our new kitty, Diamond
16 November 2009

It’s been said many times before, but it is such an important and yet easily shrouded truth that I feel I really must state it again:

It’s okay to have boundaries with your children. Complete sacrifice is neither required nor healthy for you, your children or your family.

It’s okay to have boundaries with your children.

Love from a mom who is also trying to live this statement. 🙂

January 8th, 2010 | The Life of a Suburban Mommy | No Comments -

From introvert to shut-in

I don’t dress Lily. I quit dressing Lily before she turned
two-years-old because the arguments weren’t worth it.
And I have to say, Lily, at the age of four, has a better
sense of style than I do at 41-years-old. This is the outfit
that she put together today.
27 September 2009

I am a dyed-in-the-wool introvert. I’ve always been an introvert, although there have been times in my life that it was less acute than others. However, as I spend day after day in the house with no company except two dogs and two preschoolers, I am coming dangerously close to a certain line that all introverts must stay wary of: I’m about two steps away from being a shut-in.

I have become more and more disconnected as the lonely days pass by. I play Warcraft or watch TV to bide the time, and with each passing day, I am just a little more disconnected from human interaction and the natural world.

Not a good place to be. Now I must find a way out of the dark cave I have wandered in. I’m sure I’ll find the exit, but it will take some probing. Becoming reconnected, after allowing almost all connections to lapse, takes time.

September 27th, 2009 | The Life of a Suburban Mommy | 2 Comments -

Weight gain

Clara loves the sandbox. Whenever she visits,
she’ll easily spend an hour playing in the sandbox.
Right now, there’s a bunch of fallen leaves in the sandbox
that we need to clean out and get it ready for a summer
of play.
02 February 2009

Over the past three months, I have put on 10 to 15 pounds (one stone for you Brits out there). The weight gain came out of nowhere. My weight has been a stable 180 lbs for the past four years since Lily was born. Then all of sudden, bam! I started gaining weight.

I had been trying to figure out what it was. Am I eating differently? Has my metabolism changed again? When I was in my 20s, I was one of those folks who could eat anything (and I did) and never gain weight. People always said to me, “You’re so lucky” and “Your bad eating habits will catch up with you.” And they were right. I was lucky and my unhealthy eating did catch up with me. At age 28, to be precise. I shot up from my healthy weight of 150 to 180. Then I kind of stabilized.

Yesterday I was talking to Carla about my weight gain and that none of my clothes fit. I have to suck in my stomach right now to put on my slacks, and once I have them on, they are so uncomfortably tight. Then she asked, “Is Damian still taking as much milk as he used to?”

Holy macaroni! That was it! The baby has started weaning himself. He doesn’t take near as much milk. I’ve had a free-for-all with food for the last five years, between being pregnant and nursing. Now my body doesn’t need all those extra calories to produce babies or milk.

Damn. My food playtime is over. Time to adjust my eating. 🙂

February 6th, 2009 | The Life of a Suburban Mommy | No Comments -

Random mommy weirdness

Lily pouring dry grass all over herself and Damian
30 January 2009

A random weird fact: I always cry at the end of Lady and the Tramp when Trusty is lying unconscious in the mud after being hit by the animal control wagon and Jock starts howling sadly.

So, just a warning to any women out there who have not had babies yet: be prepared to cry at every sentimental cartoon Disney scene after you have had children. Annoying but true.

February 2nd, 2009 | The Life of a Suburban Mommy | No Comments -

Children already know The Meaning of Life

Logan stayed this past weekend with us, and, among the things he said
he wanted to do, he wanted to make pumpkin pie from pumpkins. So,
Uncle Matt, Logan, Lily and Damian all crowded into the kitchen to make
homemade pumpkin pie from pumpkins.
18 October 2008

I have been working hard for the past few days “catching up.” I had descended into a bit of a funk, and, as I go into the murky mire, so does my house. I told Matt that if he ever wanted to know what mental state I am currently in, just look at the condition of the house.

But the house is clean again. For the first time in perhaps a week, I woke up this morning without an agenda. There was no crisis cleaning to be done because I had finally caught up on the household cleaning. So, here it is 1:15pm, and I have been kind of meandering around in a mopey sort of way. “What do I do next? I’m so tired; I just want to take a break today after so many days of work.”

So, ostensibly, I have a day off today. But I’m still in “responsible mode” and I’m having a hell of a time gearing out of it. After being so responsible and so reliable for years (ever since giving birth to Lily), I realized that I don’t know how to have fun anymore. I know how to clean the dishes and feed the children and do the laundry and pay the bills. I know how to plan and execute the fun of others — parties, trips, festivals — and organize, clean and cook while others are having fun during these events, but having fun myself… I’ve forgotten. My understanding of how to have fun has atrophied from lack of use over the past few years.

And even the things that I once enjoyed — writing, gardening, running — they have become too “goal oriented” to be fun anymore. I don’t write to enjoy the process of creating a story while playing with the English language; I write to have a chapter finished so I can upload a podcast. I write to have a completed story, not to create a story. I don’t garden to tend to and watch my beautiful plants grow towards the sky; I garden to have pleasant backyard for myself and my family, and I get impatient that the garden is not already completed. I don’t run to enjoy the feeling of my body; I run for exercise and to get to the goal of a marathon.

Children know how to have fun. They have fun all the time. They don’t go to the park to slide and swing and run with the intention of burning 500 calories so they can fit into skinny jeans. But as a responsible, reliable and really useful adult and surrounding myself with all these goals, the actual moment of life gets lost.

It’s so hard to reclaim though. Sure, I have the mental realization, “Hey, I need to be more childlike in my approach to life, fun, and not being so goal-oriented,” but it’s another thing entirely to grok that philosophy and have it become a natural extension of myself. (I’m sorry. I couldn’t think of another word that worked as well as grok, and thesaurus.reference.com doesn’t even have an entry for grok. Go figure.)

And, in the end, I still have to wash the dishes, feed the children, do the laundry, plan the trips, and execute the fun of others. But, while washing, cleaning and planning, I want to also reclaim the natural joy of life that comes from being in the moment — playing with words and plants and my own body — and appreciating this amazing physical realm where we are so privileged to live. This is something that children innately understand, but many adults lose this skill as we grow up, become responsible, and focus too myopically on our life goals.

October 22nd, 2008 | Planning Nerd, Podcast, The Life of a Suburban Mommy | 2 Comments -