Kinda Crunchy Mom

May 17, 2009

I grow softly

Filed under: Mama notes — by mcadmom @ 6:11 pm
Livvy and Bitty, the day before the kittens were born

Livvy and Bitty, the day before the kittens were born

Every year I wait for the day when the leaves pop open, and every year I miss it.  I know when it’s coming because I can see the tiny buds up high on the poplars.  I vow to look every day for the magic morning when everything bursts alive and this year I missed it again.

Not that we haven’t been busy.  I started a full time job last month and although I love it I am completely overwhelmed.  The notion of getting up every day to shower and drive to work is still foreign to me and some nights I sit on the couch in disbelief that I have to get up the next day and do it again.  Livvy is doing okay with the switch, my mom is watching her during the day and so she is completely spoiled in a good way.

A stray cat adopted us over the winter and although we can’t let her in (thanks to our two indoor cats) she is very faithful to us.  So faithful, in fact, that three weeks ago she gave birth to a litter of kittens in the brush pile in the woods in front of our house.  The next afternoon it rained so hard that I could barely hear Livvy’s squeals as Bitty (the cat) ran up to our porch with a drenched kitten in her mouth.

At a loss of what to do I pulled baggies onto my hands and ran into the woods like a crazy person to retrieve the rest of the brood.  That’s how we ended up with five babies on our front porch.  According to Jamie, the first thing Olivia does every morning is run out to see the kittens–they are, by far, the most loved litter of kittens in the county.

And so, amid the loss of my stay-at-home days is this new life unfolding every day.  Last week Livvy crawled into bed with me early on a Sunday and whispered, “I can’t stop thinking about the kittens.”  I wrapped my arm around her belly and breathed her in–the mornings I used to take for granted are becoming rare treats.  Just when I started to get teary, she put her face next to my ear and said, “I grow softly, mama, like a kitten,” and then she fell asleep.

There was a day, about a year after Jamie and I married, that I realized that even if I live until 100 it will not be long enough to love him.  That morning in bed with Olivia I realized that even if she could remain a tot for 20 years, even if I never went to work,  I will eventually long for those early morning cuddles.  And no matter how closely I watch, she will grow so slowly it will suprise me regardless.


February 19, 2009

The Smart Way to Watch TV

Filed under: Mama notes,Stuff I like — by mcadmom @ 8:33 pm

I’ve been having an affair. 

A month ago we sprung for TIVO.  People who know us might think that it is strange that we’d even think of TIVO because we don’t have satellite or cable.  Our lack of pay t.v. is by design–ever since the day I spent watching every single episode of “I Love the 80’s” I realized I have zero self control when it comes to television.  As entertaining as Mo Rocca’s pithy comments are, there is something wrong with not leaving the house because in two hours he’ll be joking about parachute pants. 

So when we moved in five years ago, we sprung for a mammoth antenna and never looked back.  But there was always something missing, something intangible…

For Jamie it’s General Hospital.  I know it isn’t very wifely of me to out him on my blog, but he is a closet GH fan and has been for years.   For me it isn’t about one show in particular (I think I’ve proven that I’m not exactly particular) but about the nights when I just want to watch something and my only options involve people eating bugs, animals eating bugs, or CSI.  I thought TIVO was basically a high-tech VCR that I could use to record something on too late for me to stay up (basically after 9pm) for viewing later. 

But I underestimated TIVO.

After plugging it in and setting it up I realized first off that we can now watch YouTube on tv.  We spent an hour giddly watching old Bert and Ernie sketches and were completely entertained.  I figured out how to set season passes so that GH is recorded every day for Jamie to watch when he gets home.  I was enticed and yet I thought I could walk away from TIVO at any time.

I hooked up Netflix to the TIVO and now we can watch movies on demand, and boy howdy, do we watch.  The other night I found myself watching “Life After Tomorrow”, a documentary about life after starring in the musical “Annie” .  The night before that was “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, which I think I get a pass on since I am the daughter of an actual coal miner’s daughter.  But I think it is obvious where I’m headed.

Then last night I missed a show I wanted to watch.  A few “pop pops” with the remote  and I found that TIVO recorded it for me–all on it’s own.  Yep, TIVO anticipated my need and fulfilled it without me ever asking.

I don’t think there is a mom in the world who can’t relate to the thrill of someone (something) taking care of something without being asked. 

But I know there will be bumps in the road.  I think my needs are not the only one on TIVO’s motherboard.  I noticed today that TIVO recorded 5 episodes of the original “Night Rider”.  

(The title of this post is an homage to the Kidbits show from my childhood–not that I’ve looked for it on youtube or anything.)

January 25, 2009


Filed under: Crunchy stuff,Mama notes — by mcadmom @ 10:08 pm

09-pics-014We’ve been baking bread.

Before you start to think I am in the middle of a domestic frenzy please remember that it is freezing outside, everything is covered in snow and we are getting a little bored with each other.  And although it might seem like madness to make bread with a three year old it is actually kind of fun.  The kitchen washes up easily anyway, and playing with dough intermittently is a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

Here is the recipe we’ve been working on.  You could change it up easily by using different sweetners (and yes, you have to use some but you could reduce by about a third) or flours.  This recipe makes a wad of dough– beware!  Be generous in pinching off a hunk for your little ones to knead–you’ll have plenty regardless.  And when you are up to your elbows in sticky dough while your three year old fingerpaints in flour on the countertop remember that it is all washable and eventually, edible.

Honey flax bread

First, the sponge:

3 cups warm water (warm from the tap is fine)

2 T active dry yeast (or 2 packets)

1/3 cup honey

5 cups white bread flour

Put the water into a large bowl and add the honey, stir to dissolve.  Sprinkle in the yeast and then stir in the flour.  Set in a warm place to rise a bit–about 30 minutes. 

This is where it gets messy–the sponge will be, well, spongy and stringy.  Stir it up a bit and then add 3 T melted butter or olive oil, 1 T salt, 1/4 cup honey, 3/4 cup of ground flax seeds and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour.  Stirring is kind of a misnomer here, I always start out with the spoon and give up because it is like trying to stir flour into soft bubble gum.  If you’re like me, just dig your hands in and mix it as best as you can, then turn out onto a floured surface (it’s always easier to have the flour handy because your hands will be goopy–I put 4 cups into a big pyrex measuring cup) and mix everything up with your hands. 

Once you’ve gotten to this point you should have a mound of sticky dough.  (This is the point where I pull some off for Olivia.) Using the flour you’ve kept nearby, add in 2-4 cups of whole wheat flour, a little bit at a time.  I usually sprinkle the flour onto the counter and then knead it in rather than sprinkling it onto the dough itself.  I give Olivia her own mound of flour on the counter as well as a little cup of water to sprinkle onto her dough when it gets dry. 

Remember I said this recipe makes a lot of dough so be prepared to knead for at least 15 minutes.  It is very easy to go longer, especially since Livvy is so happy puttering with her dough that I forget that I’m supposed to be tired.  I just keep kneading and adding bits of flour until the dough feels springy and alive and happy.  (If it feels earlobe like it’s about done.)  Put your dough in a large oiled bowl and flip it over to make sure it is coated.  Put your sidekick’s dough in a similarly prepared–but smaller–bowl and cover each with a towel.  Put in a warm place to rise for an hour.

Clean the gluey counter up and plop the young one into the bath.

Once the dough has doubled in size, take out and punch down (really punch it!).  Divide into two or three pieces, shape (google is your friend here)  and place on baking sheets or in pans.  Let rise until almost doubled again, this should only take 30 minutes.  Then bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  You can brush it with egg before baking to make it shiny and dark (see the one on the right), or melted butter after baking to make the crust soft (see the one on the left).  You can just leave it alone too.

It’s hard, but you have to wait at least 20 minutes before slicing or else it will kind of deflate.  So, so good, and totally worth the mess.

January 18, 2009

The best gift ever

Filed under: Uncategorized — by mcadmom @ 1:28 pm

This Christmas was hard–just plain hard, and I haven’t been able to stop and write about any of it until now.  We did a great job of leading up to the holiday–the tree was up, the house decorated, Livvy and I even made cookies.  But then in the days leading up to the BIG DAY I kind of lost out on the whole thing.

I could turn this into a post about how I found the true meaning of Christmas within the chaos, but really I was just in a sour mood.  I didn”t get to see my mom, I started a new job the week prior and found out that I was expected to work all around the holidays, and Jamie had to work Christmas Eve and Day plus New Year’s Eve and Day.  I was irritated beyond what I’ve ever been on Christmas–so much so that I almost stayed home from my family party.  Somehow a two hour drive (one way) alone with Livvy did not excite me.

But then.  Okay, I found the “joyofChristmasdespitemybestefforts”.  I did.  My (step) Grandpa told me when we shared our Opaltek wafer that the family would not be the same without me and that he was thrilled I was there.  My evening sailed upward from there.

On the way home Olivia asked me happily in the back seat if I was imagining anything.  I told her no and she replied that she was.  Then she asked me if I’d ever ‘magined the stars and the moon in the daytime so that they could be in the sky while everyone was awake.  I told her no, I’d never imagined that before.  Then she said,

“Well, you can have that one, then mom.  You can have that ‘magination I have lots.”

I could barely see the road through the tears.


November 11, 2008

Expiration dates

Filed under: Mama notes — by mcadmom @ 12:54 pm

I hate cleaning out the fridge and I always make Jamie do it.  If it were up to me, things would just self-destruct upon reaching their sell by date, the mysterious green things growing in tupperware would disappear on their own, and milk would evaporate rather than become solid.  When things start to near the date printed on the bottom I start to feel suspicious (“Sure milk, I loved you yesterday, but when will you start to turn on me?”) and don’t want to even try it.

Imagine how it felt, then, yesterday at the doc’s office when the nurse told me that if we want another baby then we better get a move on–my eggs are nearing their sell-by date.  At first I felt like I was on a sitcom, and at any moment I would spout off a witty comeback, go home and have a hilarious personal crisis, only to go through goofy shenanigans trying to get pregnant.  When I told her that Jamie and I have already decided not to go through any heroics to get pregnant she said, “Just be sure that’s how you feel because your options are growing limited”, and she was right, I know.

But after losing our baby it was so hard to even step into the office.  I sat in my car for 20 minutes and had a good cry before my appointment, and even I was surprised at my reaction.  Sitting that table, having the conversation about my oldish eggs made me realize that I truly do want another baby, desperately, but that I am afraid to do anything more than hope.  I don’t know if I can put any energy into pregnancy and have my heart broken again.

I may not be too old to have a baby, but I am starting to feel weary of the constant hope that I may be pregnant followed by the realization that I am not.  And I do not want my mid-life to be characterized by the desire for a larger family and the devastation at not having one.

October 27, 2008

Back from paradise

Filed under: Uncategorized — by mcadmom @ 12:59 pm

Because I am so paranoid I did not post that we were headed off to Florida–I promise I have not yet abandoned this blog!  My brother-in-law was getting married and we decided to make a long trip out of the occasion.  I have many things to write but they are clogged up together in a jumble right now and all I can think of are small snippets of things.  I will share more, but right now I am left with:

Olivia and I lying on our bellies in the sand, letting the waves crash into us and laughing

Jamie’s look when Olivia and I emerged from the bedroom dressed for the wedding

The way my hair smelled after days of saltwater

The feeling of waking every day knowing that it would be 80+ degrees, sunny and breezy

We had an amazing time, better than I’d ever imagined, and I am adjusting to being back at home.

September 26, 2008

The flu olympics

Filed under: Uncategorized — by mcadmom @ 8:09 pm

The weather this week has been amazing.  Tuesday afternoon I took Olivia to the park where she played with another little girl for about an hour.  While they sat face to face on the bouncy beam, the other girl started coughing that croupy cough right in Livvy’s face.  Yep.  Her grandmother just stood there, and before I could get Olivia off the beam she coughed again, sneezed and shared a lot of germs–lucky us.

I tried not to think about it too much until yesterday at the library when Livvy started to sneeze and suddenly I was the mom with the germy kid trying to exit gracefully.  I had plans of hair dye and movies last night, and Olivia even went to sleep (!).  Five minutes after my friend called to say she was headed over, I heard the dreaded throwing up sounds coming from Olivia’s room.  Plans thwarted, MCAD protocol followed, and it has been a very long night and day.  When Olivia is sick a marathon of waking, feeding, coaxing into sleep only to waken again begins.  Although I know we can’t shield her from common colds and flu, every time it happens I find myself at 4 am cursing every sick child in a 50 mile radius and wishing we could all just sleep like normal people.

I realized today that I really coddle Olivia too much when she is sick.  Because she has (as an added bonus on top of MCAD), a ridiculously sensitive gag reflex, even a cold seems to inspire at least a few episodes of throwing up.  So not only am I concerned about the metabolic stress of the cold, I am worried that she is not eating enough to keep her body functioning and then she throws up from coughing.  ugh.

But the problem is (as Olivia likes to say these days) most kids run around and play even when they’re sick.  Over the last three years I’ve leaned the other way, coaxing Olivia into being a couch potato, lest she get too excited and lose her lunch.  I think she needs to move more when she’s sick, and I think kids naturally know that sunshine and activity will actually make them feel better in the long run.

Today I did my best to let her take the lead.  I stopped at a yard sale on my way home from work (I had a review only a few miles away this morning) and bought a frilly dress for dress up.  Olivia seized it this afternoon and immediately wanted it on.  Then she raided the CD’s for “butterfly fairy” music and, after a few trial runs, settled on Solas, and started to move. 


I realized that sometimes when you feel at your crummiest, all you really need to do is put on your wings and dance.

September 24, 2008

Wow, that’s insightful

Filed under: Uncategorized — by mcadmom @ 10:57 pm

Every channel was jammed up tonight with Bush’s speech.  Did you know that our “entire economy is in danger”?  Wow.

And I found out today that grass is green too–what a day.

It took this long to see this coming?  It’s like an economic Katrina–the rest of us have known for a long time that the roof was caving in, but somehow our government doesn’t get that channel.  I get it, and we don’t even have satellite.

September 22, 2008

A letter to my daughter at 15

Filed under: Uncategorized — by mcadmom @ 12:01 am

Dear Olivia,

Once, when you were three, you spent the evening building a slide out of pillows, a chair and a stepstool.  You worked in your undies, arranging and rearranging, testing and changing, until bedtime.  And that night I slept without a pillow because you used mine for the slide, and I promised to leave it until morning.  And after you were tucked in, you came out of your room twice, once because you’d forgotten to hug me enough, and once to think about your slide.  And I wondered at you, teared up at the beauty of the person you are, and slept happily flat on the mattress.

Now at fifteen, I know that to you I am impossibly irritating.  But my wonder at you has never, and will never cease.

Love, Mom

September 19, 2008

Another day, still sad

Filed under: Uncategorized — by mcadmom @ 2:36 pm

But life goes on, right?  I am so overwhelmed at the number of kind messages from other women.  I am now a member a club I never wanted to join, and yet I am gaining a lot of strength from my fellow members.  I just emailed to someone else that I wish we all had keychains so we could see each other in public–the sadness of miscarriage is so isolated.

I spend a lot of time thinking of others who are in awful situations and when I get really sad I remind myself of them.  I’ve been reading a lot of blogs from a site called “Mothers With Cancer”, and the strength of those women is breathtaking.

I also find myself plunking around on silly sites like this one: 

Thanks to Susan I have a very special place where I can design my own awful holiday sweater.  Really.  And when things get very bad I just remind myself that I could be wearing a green sweater vest with Santa on it–things could be worse.

I also found that my Southern roots have seeped into my language thanks to this quiz:

And an oldie but goodie–I love this collection of Weight Watchers recipe cards from the 70’s.

So, I am off to put on my virtual Santa sweater and curl up for a while longer.  But I will write again soon!

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