Sunday, October 18, 2015


I was up at six, and had dinner cooking by 7:30.  The girls were down for a nap by 10:15, so I went to the gym and was there until 1.  I came home and took the girls for a long walk in the park, up to the playground, where we shared ice cream, played on slides and swings, then walked home.  We got home and the girls ate bean soup before I gave them a bath.  I have a load of laundry going, but it's probably time to switch it out.  It can wait.  I'm sitting here for a minute, eating my not-salty-enough soup, typing these thoughts, resting.  Just for a moment.

Except G wants to nurse.  It's 6 o'clock.  I'm going to let her, and if she really does go to bed, well, I won't argue. I'm tired too.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Blogging on the go?  Can that be a thing?  Probably not. There just aren't enough hours.  Today it's a thing though. Look!  Words!  Blog! 

I want to be a woman who does things.  Blogging.  Cooking.  Painting!

I bought canvases and oil paints and a wooden pallets and some brushes and a desktop easel.  I know nothing about oil painting. This should be interesting.  I've wanted to paint with oils my whole life. Time to make it happen. I'm not getting any younger.

What are you doing today?  If you weren't doing that, what would you rather be doing?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"I'm gonna start blogging again," she said.

Heh.  Famous last words, spoken on this blog no fewer than at least once or twice before, I'm pretty sure.

Guys, I'm on fire.  Not Literally.  If I was literally on fire, I would be stopping, dropping, and rolling.  Swearsies.  My heart is on fire.  That sounds like I have heartburn, which is not the case because I am not pregnant.  I'm not pregnant!  Saying (typing) those words makes me very happy.  What a different world from where I was 5 years ago.  Time changes everything.  Right?  Or do all things stay the same?  Either way, as desperate as I was to be pregnant five years ago is as glad as I am today to not be pregnant. 

What were we talking about?

I'm going to change the world. 

(Save this page to a favorites somewhere.  You'll want to come back to it again one day and you'll be all, "I'll be damned.  She said she was going to do something.  And she did.  Good on her.")

I don't know how just yet.  But I'm going to.  I can feel it.

I imagine my kids will be a bit older when it happens, when it all plays out, when all of my hard work comes to fruition.  I think that's probably the case because, well, I haven't started anything yet.  That's not entirely true; I have a load of towels in the washer.  Towels are not earth shattering or world changing, though.  Maybe they could be for someone who'd never seen a towel before or known the absorbent joys of towels, but I don't think towels are going to be my claim to fame.

How do you want to be remembered?

What did you do today?  If all you were remembered by was what you accomplished today, how would people mourn you? 

I had a really good day today.  I've had a few of them in a row, in fact.  I feel good.  I feel capable.  I feel strong.  The guilt and shame and self-hate are pretty quiet.  The anger isn't flaring as quickly, as easily. 

I'm 35 years old.  When I was 14, I thought I had the whole world figured out.  I continued to believe that as I got older, even as my opinions and experiences changed and grew - each time I learned something new, each time I experienced something I'd never experienced before, I still walked away feeling like I had it all figured out.  I never considered that I don't actually know anything, which is why there are so many new and unique things out there to experience and learn.  Am I making any sense?  Probably not.  That's okay. The point is that i'm finally realizing...what?  My place in the world?  How small I am, how insignificant?  I'm realizing how much I don't know, how much I can never know, and that scares me.  Things like who really shot JFK and did aliens build the pyramids and is God real - those aren't answers I'll get in this lifetime.  And I don't know if I believe there's another lifetime to be had, so that scares me.  I'm scared a lot.  People scare me, mostly.  I'm afraid of the people I love dying.  I'm afraid of people not liking me.  I'm afraid that maybe I'm wrong, that maybe people aren't actually inherently good, that they won't usually do the right thing when they are presented with the opportunity and means to do so. 

I have this theory that if I could just sit down, one on one, with all of the "bad guys" out there, I could explain to them why they should stop being mean and start trying to help.  I could hug them and let them cry out their hurts and sadness and pain, and I could tell them that it's all going to be okay, that we'll start fresh and it will all be just fine.  Everything can be fixed.  I could fix them some vegetable soup and cornbread and a big glass of milk and they could just sit and eat and feel safe and not judged. 

But, you know, reality.  I mean, seriously.  Some of those people don't even think women are human.  And then I get jaded again, because how do you start a dialog with people like that?  And the problem is so deep, I don't know that it can be solved.  That sounds too flip for how grave it is for me to say it.  How to do you fix something so broken? 

Jimi told me early in our relationship that I have a young soul.  It was a polite way of saying I'm naïve, I figured.  I am naïve.  Extremely so.  I want to believe everything you tell me.  I want to judge you on your intentions.  People keep telling me that's a bad idea, it's unsafe.  I was going to agree with them.  But you know what?  It's not always a bad idea, or unsafe.  Sometimes it's what a person needs.  And sometimes it's dumb as shit.  My problem is that I don't have the filter to distinguish between the two.

Hurt people hurt people.  Happy people don't hurt people.  Right?  Is it that simple?

I'm getting too deep.  That's not where I wanted to swim to tonight.  Can we raincheck this discussion for now?  I have other things I wanted to get to.

I think i'm going to run for political office.  Not really.  I would love it, except for all the work that comes along with it.  I'm so lazy.  Seriously.  Or maybe i'm mistaking lazy for tired.  For intellectually unstimulated. 

I can't be a politician because I can't remember anyone's name, and i'm incapable of schmoozing.  Something happened to me along the way, something that broke my confidence.  I suspect it was the deep shame I felt when I miscarried.  That also is not what I came here to discuss.  Why do I keep taking all of these detours?  Raincheck again, please.

I want to help people.  I want to do something that makes peoples' lives better.  It may sound trite, but I genuinely want to win the lottery so I can travel the world doing cool shit while also managing several charitable trusts.

Can I tell you about my day?  This is my blog. Of course I can tell you about my day.  Last night, Geneva pooped on the potty.  (That didn't happen today, but it's my blog, so I can mention it if I want to.  it was the first time.  It's a big stinky deal.)  Then, I worked until the wee hours of the morning to knock out a project i'm pretty sure my boss thought was probably impossible.  His boss emailed me to thank me for my efforts.  And I woke up to an email saying I'm now officially a Starbucks Gold Card Member (may take up to six weeks for actual gold card to arrive with it's balance of $4.59). And then, I came home to a mail that said American Express just upped my limit.  Fuckin' A.  (I had bad credit left over from bad decisions for a pretty good while, so it feels really awesome to have really good credit for a change.  We're considering maxing out everything and "disappearing", but realize that is impossible because we have kids and responsibilities and shit.)  And my husband was nice, and my kids were adorable and sweet, and dinner was good, and I know what I'm wearing to work was just a really, really, exceptionally good day.  I should've bought a lottery ticket.

Tomorrow, I'm going to change the world.  Or at least get started on figuring out what exactly it is that i'm going to do to change the world.  If I have an extra minute. 

If you have an extra minute, talk to me.  Please?  In the words of RadGuy, UR THOTS?

Sunday, September 13, 2015


I have a moment to myself for the first time since the girls woke at 6 this morning. How does everyone do all of the things?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Breathing deep

Things I Know Are True:
Jimi loves me.
My parents love me.  Family - aunts, uncles, cousins - I have people who love me.
I am a great mother.
My girls are amazing miracles full of wonder and delight and I am so lucky to get to be their mom.
I am smart.
I am pretty.
I am a good person.
I'm working this week on trying to not worry about things that I cannot control.  On setting boundaries.  On remembering things that are true, and not allowing myself to hold space for things that are not. 
Starting tomorrow, I've got to start working on my temper, too. 
I'm angry, a lot.  Way more than I probably reasonably should be.  For no good reason, usually.  Today, I couldn't find my tennis shoes.  They weren't where I thought I'd left them.  So I tried to look under the pile of dirty clothes on the floor by the bedroom door.  And i got mad at Jimi because there are three hampers full of his clean clothes right there, but no empty hamper for dirty clothes.  And so i threw the pile of dirty clothes into the middle of the bedroom floor, searching for my missing shoes that were not under the pile of dirty clothes, which only made me more mad.  There were tears.  I yelled.  Jimi told me to leave the house because he just couldn't even with me.  Geneva told me she didn't want me to be angry.  My heart broke, but I still had all of this fire inside, this madness that I needed to get out somehow, but breaking windows isn't an option and i can't really throw things at all because moms don't do those things and so I stomp and make passive aggressive comments under my breath toward my husband and my kids who aren't doing anything wrong at all, mostly I'm mad that they're just like me, leaving shit laying around and not picking up after themselves and not being very good housekeepers in general.  Maybe my life's problems would be solved with a housekeeper.  But probably not.
I got mad last Saturday night over pizza.  It was 9 o'clock, i'd just put a frozen pizza in the oven, thinking I had at least an hour before Geneva would want to go to bed - Uncle J was over!  as soon as I set the timer, she was hollering for milkies and ready to sleep.  I told Jimi I had a pizza in the oven and asked him to check it when the timer when off, then disappeared with G for our bedtime ritual.  An hour later, Jimi was waking me up, telling me my pizza was done...  oh, I was so mad!  Why did he wait 40 minutes to get me - he knows I fall asleep when i'm trying to get her down!  I stomped into the kitchen, pausing to look into the living room and see that Cora was still awake.  Awesome.  And then I saw my pizza, lukewarm and not fully cooked.  I turned the toaster oven back on and put it back in, but i was seeing red.  Uncle J left at some point, and apparently I freaked him out so much he asked Jimi later if I've ever hit him.  I haven't.  I'm not violent, just loud.  Not even yelling-at-other-people loud, and I certainly don't call names or anything like that.  I do stomp, though.  and slam stuff around.  and lately i'm prone to bursting into tears for very miniscule reasons. 
I need to get a hold of myself.  this sort of behavior is not acceptable, as I would say to Geneva. 
My head gets all cluttered.  There's so much - work, home, kids, husband, family, myself! - so much to do and remember and think about all the time.  So many balls to juggle.  When I drop one, or fear I may drop one, I'm so hard on myself, believing, in the moment of fear and anxiety, things that are not true, worrying myself to the point of a sick stomach about things that haven't happened, things that probably won't happen. 
Every woman I talk to about this says, "Me too.  Yes.  I understand.  I know."  That helps.  It really does.  It doesn't fix it, but it eases my mind.  It's not just me.  Maybe I'm not losing my mind.  Maybe I'm not crazy as a loon.  Maybe every little thing really is gonna be alright.
Jimi is awesome.  I know I say that a lot, and I take it for granted a lot, but when times get tough, he's always right there with the right words, and the truth.  He's really good at telling the truth, even if it's something I may not want to hear.  I love that about him.  It makes me feel safe, because I know that he is honest with me so we can always be on equal footing.  I don't always give him that same courtesy because I think by not speaking my mind i'm sparing his feelings, but then I end up acting like an asshole and the whole thing becomes way bigger than it needed to be or would have been if i'd just told him what was bothering me in the first place.  I'm working on that too, as part of my boundary-setting/worrying about things I can control exercise.  Jimi and I have had some really good talks on our way to work this week, and he's offered some introspections I hadn't considered - like how everything in my life is different today from how it was three years ago.  Hell, from a year ago!  I've had another baby, we have a willful toddler, my job changed entirely when I returned from maternity leave in January, and it's only gotten more stressful since.  That's a lot.  There are a lot of stressful situations I've been facing all at once, and it's no wonder the pressure is starting to catch up with me. 
...Deep breaths. 
One thing at a time. 
Don't worry about it if you can't change it. 
Deep breaths. 
Change what you can. 
Do your best. 
What are you really upset about? 
What is the root cause of your frustration? 
What can you do to change the situation? 
Deep breaths. 
Is this reaction setting a good example for the girls? 
Deep breaths. 
 Set boundaries. 
It is okay to tell someone what your boundaries are. 
It is okay to remind them if they forget and cross your boundaries. 
It is okay to have boundaries. 
Boundaries are not rude or mean. 
Deep breaths. 
You cannot control the emotions of others. 
It is okay if someone doesn't like you. 
Deep breaths. 
Remember how lucky you are. 
Remember the good in your life,
add it up - there is so much. 
Deep breaths...

Monday, August 3, 2015


9:45 on a Monday night.  Girls are in bed.  Husband is in bed.  Dogs are in bed.  Momma feels like she's getting away with something because she's drinking wine and blogging at 9:45 on a Monday night.  I'm not doing dishes, i'm not doing laundry, i'm not working - i'm fucking off and dammit it feels awesome. 

I think I need a vacation. An actual one, where I can relax.  Mom and I had talked about taking a family trip to the beach this year, but she backed out.  I was so disappointed - I knew that if she didn't go, it wouldn't happen for us.  Mainly because the idea of trying to go to the beach with two littles doesn't sound like anything that would be relaxing.  If Mom and Dad were along, though, Jimi and I probably could've managed to escape for at least one night for a walk on the beach. 

Jimi and I went to the mountains to get married, and spent an amazing, quiet, peaceful week taking in the beauty of the Smokies and hanging out in the hot tub.  I'll bet we could have fun doing that again.  It's not a walk on the beach, but I want to take Geneva to the woods anyhow, and little girls do sleep eventually, and hot tubs are awfully nice under the stars...

I probably should book us a trip to the mountains.  It's been 3 years.  It's time to go back. 

I need some apple pie.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Deep thoughts on a Friday night.

I started writing something dogging on myself, but I decided not to do that.  I spend plenty of time feeling bad about things I've said or done or not done or mistakes I've made- I don't really need to rehash or delve into it here.  No one really cares, and it'll just make me feel like shit.  Why do that? 

Why do we do that?  Wallow in our imperfections?  Or is it only me?  I think it's probably not - lots of people are making money off of other people feeling bad about themselves.

Ugh.  I don't even want to talk about this.  Why do I keep talking about it?  Let's change the subject.

Once upon a time, in another life, I had a best friend.  Her name was Kat, I've mentioned her here before, but I'm not going to link to any of that shit because who really cares and I know how it all went down, so whatever.  The thing is, I don't know if Kat and I ever actually liked each other.  That's not completely true.  It sort of is.  I don't really want to rehash all the details -

the tl:dr of it is that I was always jealous of her, from the very beginning. Everyone liked her more than they liked me.  Her hair was prettier than mine.  She had big boobs. 

People wanted to be her friend, whereas I desperately wanted people to want to be my friend. 

This angle just occurred to me, and is so deeply true and raw that it brought me to tears.  No shit.  Mainly because I'm still that little girl inside, the one who just wants someone to play with her, to be her friend...

(there's a rabbit hole!  let's go down it...)
  If I were to go to therapy, this is the part where I'd talk about how it probably goes back to when I moved into the advanced program in 4th grade - brand new school, no friends, and as it turned out, I was the dumb one in the class.  All of the kids had gone to school, at an advanced level, their entire (4th grade level) educational careers.  Then here I came, with my suburban middle-class public school run-of-the-mill education, and I didn't understand their new math or Spanish teacher who spoke actual paragraphs and expected you to not only understand but also respond.  WTF, this world was brand new and I was really bad at adapting to it.  None of the kids liked me, and none of them wanted to be my friends.  I was round and freckled and awkward with too-short badly permed hair and I was a tattle tale and a goody two shoes and wanted to be teacher's pet, but I think even Mrs. Vittitow didn't much care for me.

I was thinking of fourth grade the other day.  I'd heard a story of a kid who lost her mom to some sort of prolonged illness when she was 10, so her only memories of her mom weren't good ones, because her mom was sick and dying for two years, and so her temper and patience were in short supply and she often reacted poorly to the little girl being a little girl.  It made me so sad; my heart breaks for the little girl who grew up without her mom to hold her and sing to her and teach her things and who doesn't remember good things about her mom. But my heart is also broken for the mom, because you know that's not how she'd want her daughter to remember her.  She was sick. I don't know the details and I wasn't there, but I know most moms really love their kids and only want the best for them, and wouldn't want their only memories to be bad ones. 

Anyhow, so i'd heard this story, and I couldn't stop thinking about how lonely and sad I was in fourth grade, when I was about 9 or 10, and my mom was my only friend.  No kidding.  My mom. The one who said she couldn't be my friend BECAUSE she's my mom.  I was so overwhelmed with the love, I had to call her.

"I was thinking about that time you went on my class trip with me to Huntsville AL because if you didn't I wouldn't have had any friends at all and it would have been an awful trip for me."

"I don't remember anything like that.  I remember the trip, but I don't remember going because you didn't have friends."

"I probably never admitted that to you until just now.  It's the sort of thing I wouldn't have wanted to say anything about because I was too embarrassed.  But I didn't have a single friend in fourth grade.  If you hadn't gone on that trip with me, I would've been miserable.  I'm so glad you were my only friend, Momma.  I love you."

Let's come back to present day.

Oh goodness.  It took some effort to remember where I was going with this when I started out. 

I have some really awesome women in my life right now.  Women with whom I feel no competition, because I know that I am enough and I do not have to compete.  Women who are beautiful, but I am not jealous of them because I am beautiful too.  Women who are brilliant and intimidate the fuck out of me with their massive expensive brains, but who I am not afraid of because they teach me awesome things and will only help create a more interesting and amazing village for my daughters.  Women who live life to the fullest and inspire me to make the most of every day.  Women who work so hard to make loving homes and happy memories for their families. 

The part that blows my mind is that I genuinely feel like these want to be my friends.  I think they actually like me.  I know i'm not supposed to care what people think, but anyone who says they don't feel better when someone likes them is a liar.  The fact that these women like me makes me feel awesome.

It's really late, I've lost my point a hundred times and i'm still not sure I ever got back there, but i'm tired and I have to go to sleep.  Sweet dreams internet world. 

Now tell me how awesome I am.  ;)

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I'm trying to identify and confront head-on sources of stress in my life.  In the last week I've been able to, with some pretty deep introspection, narrow down a few of the daily nuances that make me absolutely batshit crazy:

1.  Shoes.  Not being able to find my shoes, not being able to find Geneva's shoes, only being able to find one of the shoes...and don't even let me get started on finding fucking socks that match each other.  It's a Christmas Miracle in July if you can make that shit happen.

2.  Food.  Geneva's Lunch, my lunch, our breakfasts, snacks, morning coffee. Dinner - what are we having for dinner?  All are very important.  All are occasionally missed because I don't have my shit together.

3.  Clothes.  Knowing what I'm going to wear and being able to locate all of the pieces of said outfit.  Wash, Rinse, Repeat for Geneva and Cora. 

Sounds simple enough, right?  Shut up. 

I can recognize how silly and simple that list sounds, but I also know, from living in my daily reality, that those are legitimate, snakes-popping-out-of-my-head crazy-inducing triggers/challenges that can make or break my day before it's really even gotten started. 

I also know how to solve my problems, at least in terms of identifying the solutions - shoes go back in the same place after they come off, food is prepped the night before, laundry is done on weekends and work-week outfits laid out Sunday night.  I've tried.  Oh, how I've tried.  It's not easy being lazy, folks.  When it was just me and Jimi, oh, the lazy times we had.  G came along and required the discipline of every-other-day laundry and regular mealtimes, but she was settling into a pretty good lazy routine too.  Then we added Cora into the mix, and, through no fault of hers, just the pure fact of four people living under one roof, logistics got complicated and started requiring some real planning and execution and follow-through.  Things we're really bad at in the Fowler household.

I was doing great for a minute, though.  When I first went back to work after my maternity leave this last time, I had meal plans planned and prepped Saturday afternoon for the coming week.  Laundry was washed and folded and put away and laid out Sunday night.  Lunches were packed the night before; there was time for breakfast in the mornings before we left the house, rather than grabbing a granola bar on the way out the door.  We knew where our shoes were. 

Those things happened.  They did.  I distinctly remember.  And then we all got sick, and we passed some variety and level of funk around between us for the next few months and it just wasn't easy to keep on top of all of that neatness and organization - it makes everything run so smoothly, but man, it really requires work and staying on top of it.  Or, well, not being completely lazy asses and doing nothing. 

It made me feel better when I learned that there's an actual scientific theory out there that says chaos is the natural order of things - that no matter how nice and neat you organize things, the natural inclination is for those things to become disorganized and messy.  It made me feel like maybe I'm not such a complete failure in life.  Chaos is normal, and expected.  That was long before kids.  It's especially when you have little kids, though, right?  That's what people keep telling me. 

I called a family friend last week, a psychiatrist by trade, and told her that I was pretty sure I was going crazy, and asked her if she could refer me to someone I could talk to.  I don't want any meds or anything, I told her, I just want someone to tell me how to stop being so fucking crazy.  I'd cried the whole way to work that morning.  I was sort of a basket case.  She asked me to explain what was going on - what was my particular flavor of crazy, if you will.  I'm anxious all the time, I feel like I'm constantly going to fuck something up, or like I've already fucked something up and it's going to bite me in the ass.  I can't get my arms around anything, I feel completely overwhelmed and behind at work and at home and I fantasize about burning shit down or quitting my job because then I could start somewhere new and not be behind anymore.  She laughed at me.

"Natalie!  You're not crazy!  You're just a woman!"

dramatic pause

"That's what it is to be a woman in today's fucked up society.  With two small kids and a full time job, of course you're a little crazy."  We can't give enough of ourselves to any one thing to ever feel like we're doing enough or good enough, and then we've given so much of ourselves and our time to those two very important vocations that there's no time or energy left to give to ourselves.  It's a nasty vicious cycle and it can make your brain and your body sick.  She told me how for years she'd held out hope that women could come together, recognizing these truths we all experience every day, and help each other, or at the very least, band together to encourage some positive societal change wherein it was made easier for women to balance these roles.  What she found instead was a bunch of backbiting and judgment. 

Her advice to me was not to seek counsel of a local psychologist - she told me anyone I found locally to talk to would likely be a man, which no ability to understand the perfect storm of emotions i'm experiencing right now, and he'd want to throw a pill at the problem that wouldn't fix my problem.  She told me to hire someone to clean my house, or quit my job, or work part time, or come home and light up a joint to relax after the kids are in bed. 

So those aren't exactly the most feasible options for me, but she got me thinking - what are the sources of my stress?  What makes my day hard? 

I organized my pantry.  I cut up one of those over-the-closet-door shoe holder thingies I never use and put half on the back of the pantry door and filled the pockets with easy-to-grab snacks for us and the kids - fruit, babyfood pouches, granola bars, pretzels, oatmeal packs, fruit snacks.  Now I don't have to dig for nutritious things in the mornings when we're rushing to get out the door  - we have things easily available.  I made a meal plan for the week so we'd come home each night knowing what we're having for dinner and how we're getting it made.  I dug out an old CD rack that is a perfect fit for Geneva's shoes - retraining ourselves to use it is another matter entirely.  Jimi's been staying on top of the kitchen mess and the laundry so we've had things to wear and clean dishes to cook and eat with.  We're off to a good start, I'd say. 

Life is hard and messy and sometimes you just need a good cry and someone to tell you you're not alone, that you're not the only person who's ever gone through this or felt this way.  That you're not crazy.  Not in a "medicate me" sort of way - life is just hard.  And messy.  And chaotic.  Exactly as it's supposed to be. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Best Parts of the Week

The Best Parts of the Week were, in no particular order:

Geneva told her sitter's husband this afternoon: "My mom is pretty."  I'm not sure where that came from, but man, it sure felt good.

Know what was even better though?  Last night, she and I went for a walk around the block.  "I love you, Mommy." and "I love walking with you, Mommy."  Wow.

This morning, Geneva was reading a book to Cora.  Those girls.  Geneva loves Cora so much, and Cora searches for Geneva constantly, her face lighting up in a huge two-tooth grin when she finds her sister.  Watching them together makes me feel like maybe I understand my purpose in this life.

Geneva and I went swimming Sunday and Monday nights.  The whole fam-damily went to Columbus OH for three days so I could do some training with my counterpart in that office, and the hotel we were in had an indoor pool with so much chlorine the water had a film over the surface and my skin started to burn after fifteen minutes.  G gave zero fucks about her burning eyes and skin, though - she was SWIMMING!  We took turns being sharks, holding our hands up like fins above our heads and saying "Do do, do do, do do" as we moved in for the tickle attacks.  I wish sometimes I had a videographer who could follow me around and record all of these precious moments i'm going to forget in the next twenty minutes.  I'm adding that to my list of shit to buy when I win the lottery or come up with a multi-million dollar idea.  Videographer.  I'll build them an addition on the back of the house so they can live on-site.

Full length mirrors.  I'm almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight - thanks only to the tandem breastfeeding and poor nutrition that comes from being a full-time working mother of two because I sure as fuck can't get my ass to the gym - and my body is something that gives me good thoughts more days than not.  I don't know how I look to other people, but when I see me, I see a strong woman who's given birth and life to two amazing little girls with this body...gotta respect it, you know?  And I recently bought some new clothes that make me feel a little more sophisticated than my usual uniform of yoga pants, nursing tank, light casual cardigan/blouse.  A few of the guys around the office have made some comments that tell me I'm not looking half bad for a 35 year old mother of two - a cheap thrill, sure, but a thrill nonetheless.  (she says as she slugs another mouthful of refrigerated cabernet sauvignon from the 375ml bottle her husband bought for $20 in the hotel lobby and they never got around to drinking together because the kids never go to sleep early enough for the grownups to enough energy to have grownup time...)

I'll get a check for a couple hundred bucks for my mileage for the trip at the start of the week.  Extra money is always good.

My husband is so awesome.  Wednesday was sort of, well, really hard for me.  For no particular reason, just because sometimes life is hard, even if the difficulty is of your own making or even in your own head.  Hard is hard.  I cried the entire way to work that morning.  I was miserable all day.  I got home that night and our conversation had me in tears again.  He  did what he's always done - he listened, and then he offered a couple of logical solutions, each with their own pros and cons he was patient enough to weigh out with me.  He listened to my pipe dreams and pretended with me that there was actually a way to make them reality.  He promised me that if I needed to follow through with those pretend fantasies, he'd work with me to ensure our success.  I can't make the sort of changes I'd really like right now, but it's so reassuring and comforting to know that my partner will be by my side to help me work out viable solutions to my problems every step of the way.  I love my Jimi.  For so many years now he's been my safe place, my confidant, my best friend.  The new and the shiny has long since worn off, but man, what we've got here, this beautiful thing we're still doing...we've got a special thing going, I think.  one that seems it had to have been inspired, on purpose, intended, fated, destined, meant to be.  Lucky, lucky us.

I have so many people who love me.  I posted on facebook Wednesday:  I'm struggling today with a lot of anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. My friends and family rallied to give me kind words of love and support.  They made me cry happy tears.  Sweet friends.

I harvested my first zucchini last night.  Jimi sautéed it with garlic, olive oil, then squirted it with lime juice.  Oh my goodness, it was so yummy.  I sure hope we get another one.  My eggplant flowered, I harvested one little pea pod that had the two most delicious peas I've ever tasted, we have about 8 tiny watermelons growing, and I think my seeds from Australia are actually growing.  The sweet potato vines seem to be doing well, my beans and cucumbers are flowering - even the black beans! Did you know black bean flowers are pinkish/purple?  They're so pretty. 

I made it to Friday.  Tomorrow's Saturday.  YAY Weekend!

What was the best part of your week?  And can you guess what this post was originally going to be about?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Friday night

I'm going to regret staying up so late, but dammit, it's Friday. i'm grown. I worked really hard all week. I should be able to kick back and chill for a while. Somehow, though, it doesn't matter what time they finally get to sleep, those little girls are up before the sun, ready to go go go, as if sleep were nothing more than a mere inconvenience. And they certainly don't care what time mommy finally caught some shut-eye. How is it that everything about parenting is the hardest thing and the most wonderful thing both at the same time?

I'm on top of the world.  Life is amazing.  Seriously.  My only source of sad right now is my chronic lack of sleep and the fact that my house is a wreck.  And i don't much care, honestly, about the state of the house.  Fuck it. I promise I will never look back on my life and wish longingly for the good ol' days of picking up toys and doing endless loads of laundry and endless sinks-full of dishes -  I may one day miss everything that creates those messes, but fuck cleaning them up.  I'm just being honest.  

My garden is going so well.  I took a bunch of pictures tonight and uploaded them here:

I want to show you my garden

I spend a lot more time in my garden than i do cleaning. Is that true?  I don't know if that's actually true.  I did spend a lot of hours out there last weekend, but this entire week has been a complete bust due to rain.  (Of course, I also haven't cleaned anything all week.  It's a tie.)  IT'S NOT A COMPETITION NATALIE!!!

Jimi's brother was over earlier tonight.  G loves her Uncle J, and he says our girls are the most wonderful human beings on the planet and he's absolutely correct.  Jimi stopped at a gas station on his way back after taking J home, and he brought me a Slim Jim.  It's midnight, but I'm seriously weighing the cost/benefit analysis of eating that motherfucker right now.  

Maybe I should just have another beer.  That's an awfully big time commitment, though.  

I spent two days this week doing computer process training with a guy from our St Louis office.  It makes me feel really good that they think I know my shit well enough to entrust me to train others.  Especially since I've always considered myself a terrible teacher.  I'm learning that maybe I'm not actually a terrible teacher - maybe I've just told myself that because I lack confidence and therefore I'm intimidated by the idea of having to instruct someone - what if I tell them wrong?!  But, truth be told, I'm pretty dang good at what I do - I really do know my shit.  With the upheaval and change our business is going through, I'm glad to find myself in a position of being considered valuable - the day after Memorial Day, they fired my Cincinnati counterpart, a man who'd been with the company for 43 years. As much as I may bitch and moan, I certainly don't want to find myself separated from my employment by anything other than my absolute choice.  I need my job.  I know I'd be fine, but until I'm ready to make some crazy leap, i really do enjoy the security of having money deposited in my bank account every Friday morning.  

12:25.  Still debating that Slim Jim.  And the beer.  Both?

Nah, nothing. Baby's up.

Friday, June 12, 2015

So tired...

I thought I was going to have an easy night - G was in bed asleep by 10. It's 11:33 - Cora's only just gone down for the night.  Heh - "for the night".  Right.  For the next couple hours, is more like it.

Jimi and I are so tired.  We've not slept well in weeks, and it's taking a toll.  We're grumpy and short with each other and with G when she does that annoying shit toddlers do.  Our house is a wreck because we don't have the energy to keep up during the week, and on the weekends we can only barely catch up, so there's no chance to get ahead.  It feels like a losing battle, a futile effort, but I love the way it feels to have a clean house and i want to have one again.  I'm forgetting everything - conversations are hard sometimes because I can't find the right words because my brain is just so tired.

Are we sure there's no "pause" button somewhere?  I could really use a nap.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

We all have those days

I'm in a weird place in my head these days. I feel anxious, unsettled.  Like I should be doing something else, career-wise.

I'm so tempted to delete that, because I'm not sure how much time i want to spend fleshing out those thoughts, but it's been on my mind for a long time now - most of last year, and again since I've returned from maternity leave. I have a pretty good thing going where i am now - my situation is pretty ideal and sweet, to be honest.  I can wear what i want, including jeans and tennis shoes.  I can take my dog to work (not every day, but most days lately).  When my kids are sick or my sitter has a migraine, i can bring the girls to work with me (because they'd rather have me and my girls than no me).  I'm paid a good salary; a damn fine salary, even, if you consider that i have only a high school education.  

Here's the thing, though:  I don't give a fuck about drums.  I don't care.  I just don't care. My efforts feel so pointless and stupid and small.   My company is owned by a private equity firm.  The work I do, ultimately, goes toward making rich people richer.  Maybe I'm helping put a Keurig on the counter of some bigwig's 3rd vacation home.  What the fuck?  Why?  What's the point?  I mean, beyond the fact that I have to work to make sure our mortgage is paid and we can go to the doctor when we're sick, of course.  I know why i have to work.  I think that I'm not happy with the sort of work I'm doing, for the sort of company I'm doing it for.  Not that there's anything inherently wrong with my company, But it feels unimportant.  I need to do something more; something that gives back and helps people and makes the world a happier place. 

If only i could figure out what that should be.  

Ideally?  I'd be at home every day, raising my daughters.  We'd go to the zoo and the science center and to toddler story hour at the library.  There would be tumbling classes and music classes and play groups.  My house would be clean and organized and my yard would be planted with beautiful flowers and we'd eat healthy meals each night sitting around the table and telling stories about our days in 3 languages we all spoke fluently....

I've wondered:  Is this how a midlife crisis starts? Because that scenario I just laid out there?  i know, rationally, that that shit wouldn't happen, even if I wasn't working and Jimi wasn't working and we had a full time nanny.  Let's just be honest.  But the longing I have to spend my waking hours doing something productive - actually productive, not just shuffling papers to make imaginary money for some imaginary executive - is so strong I almost turned my car around one day last week when I was heading back to the office after lunch.  I was going to turn around and pick up the girls and take them to the park.  I could almost feel the rush of fear and adrenaline when I called Jimi to tell him I was quitting my job, but that we'd figure it all out.  I didn't turn around, of course.  I went back to my desk like a good little girl and shuffled my papers and stomped down the ache in my heart when I thought of Cora's smile and Geneva's hug.  

I just re-read that paragraph.  I said I want to do something productive, and then said I almost quit my job to take the girls to the park.  Are my priorities totally fucked up?  Making Money < Taking Children To The Park.  Growing young minds?  Shaping the way my girls will approach the world?  Way more productive than customer service at the drum plant, I assure you.  I've been given this amazing task and responsibility, and it's supposed to be my number one priority, but it can't be my full time job because it literally does not pay the bills.  It breaks my heart.

No one's going to pay me to stay home and raise babies, so my next logical solution was to win the lottery.  I only matched two numbers on a $10 quick pick.  Of all the fucking luck. Then I decided I'm either going to have to start my own business (but who has money, or time, or ideas, or the balls to do something like that?), have a post go viral and land a book deal (3 posts in 7 months, that shit's gonna happen any moment), or start looking for a job in a more charitable organization.  

I think I need to be helping people in some way, and making small talk over the sound of the credit card machine processing their purchase just isn't cutting it.  But gosh, the idea of leaving a job where I've been so comfortable for so long - it's terrifying.  Starting something new?  Something unknown?  What if I fail?  Sometimes I think I'm so afraid of failing that I'm afraid to even try.  One of my first thoughts: No charity will pay me what I'm making when I don't have a college degree or any experience.  It's probably the truth, but I haven't looked yet.  The likelihood that it is true may be scary enough to keep me from looking at all.  If I look, and find something I'm qualified for that will pay me enough - what if I sent them my resume and they didn't even call?  I'm only just starting to realize that these crazy "what if" things I make up in my head are all coming from a place of fear and anxiety and I don't know when I started being so fucking afraid.  I don't want to be afraid.  I don't want to teach my girls to be afraid.  

My girls.  I want to tell them they can be anything they want, and I want them to chase their dreams.  How can I show them how to follow their passions if I don't follow mine?  Then again, maybe I should keep my passions on hold until after 6 and on weekends - and keep my ass in my desk chair from 8-5 bringing in that steady cash every week.  

See?  The crazy, it is strong.  Jimi says, "You want all of these impossible things.  You don't even waste your time with something realistic - you go right for the stuff that can't happen."  You gotta dream big, baby.  You don't get anything if you don't ask for it.  May as well ask for the impossible, right?  Maybe you'll get something awesome in return.  

I'm going to get up and go to work tomorrow.  I'll keep my eye out for some awesome, though.  Just in case.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

I'm going to be a farmer when I grow up.

I've started a garden.  The rabbits and squirrels must think I've put out a buffet.  They're eating my potatoes, my watermelons, my radishes, my turnips - i have my spinach and lettuces and tomatoes covered, and they've been safe so far.

Shit.  I was supposed to water tonight.  I'll get up early and do that, I guess.  I put soaker hoses in my raised bed, and they work okay, but i think maybe the fact that i didn't really know what i was doing, or bother to actually research so i could have an idea of what i was doing, has maybe resulted in me not putting the hoses in the best possible places to keep my garden watered properly.  But you know what?  It gets watered.  And I'll have a better idea of what I'm doing and how best to do it next year.  Who knows, maybe I'll even do some book learnin' and find out how the professionals do things.

This garden has been a bit of, well, it's sort of...

I almost criticized it.  My garden is awesome.  The power of words, people.  I was telling Jimi the other night about the time, when I was about 8, my girlfriend's mom criticized a new outfit I'd been so proud of - she said it looked like i was wearing a garbage bag.  I was devastated, and the outfit I'd adored just a moment before was suddenly so embarrassing for me.  I took it off as soon as i got home and hung it back in the closet and never wore it again - forever feeling guilty because it'd been pretty expensive and I'd begged my mom to buy it for me.  And I was sad every time I saw it hanging there, because I'd loved it and that ugly mean woman had ruined it for me.  Who says something like that to a little girl?  Anyhow, back to the garden - so, someone close to me may have made a statement or two that lead me to interpret that this person finds the placement of my garden distasteful and unsightly.  And maybe enough people have slowed down while driving by to check out what I've got going on there in my side yard that I've taken notice and can't decide if I should beam with pride or cower with embarrassment.  I'm trying really hard to beam, people.  I love my garden so much.  And you know, I've had 5 neighbors ask me about my little would-be at-home grocery, but not one has offered anything that sounded like a complaint.  In fact, two shared stories of their own gardens (safely hidden away in their back yards, of course), one offering any help or cuttings, and the other actually bringing me 4 heirloom tomato plants she'd started from seeds given to her by an Amish farmer.  They're supposed to be pink.  I hope those fucking squirrels leave them alone.

I love my garden.  I go out every day and check the progress of each plant, talking to them, plucking any weeds that may have sprouted up (at first, i thought i had the fastest growing lettuces in the world!), snapping a few pictures of their progress with the intention of creating a collage I'll probably never realistically get around to, but whatever.  G digs in the dirt with me (and dug up the first batch of radishes and turnips we planted within days of us putting the seeds in the ground).

"...Maybe next year you can just move it around back."  The implication of the words is that I've put my little labor of love in an inappropriate spot.  It makes me feel small and embarrassed and I sort of want to just turn my back on the entire project and ignore it completely and let it overgrow and forget about it and just pretend it isn't even there any more.  I have a history of doing that with things.

"Yeah.  Maybe I'll move my boxes and bags and things, but leave the dirt, because dirt is heavy as shit and I'm not moving all that dirt.  I'll buy new dirt.  But I could plant flowers there next year."

"Yeah!  You could plant some shrubs and some rose bushes and some pretty ground cover..." she latches onto the idea, and you can almost hear in her voice the relief that maybe next year I won't have a 4x12 raised bed right smack in the middle of my side yard, all out in the open between the house and the street.  Or maybe it's the 9 coffee bean bags full of dirt growing potatoes and carrots and squash and pumpkins and watermelon that she finds more offensive.  probably the bags.

But here's the thing.  When I started plotting this garden back in December, all full of new-baby hormones and love and free time and shit, I spent a lot of time looking out my windows, watching which parts of my yard get the best sun during the day.  My side yard?  Sun, all day.  ALL day.  Sunny in the morning, sunny in the late afternoon, sunny in between.  That was my spot, that spot right there.  I was going to grow us some mother eating vegetables.  I have a buddy who does a compost thing at the local university, and when i asked if there'd be any to spare, she said i could have a truckload or two of compost, free of charge.  Score!  And we could get pallets from work to build the boxes.  I planned to do four 4'x4' beds, with a concrete block border (planted with herbs and bee-attracting flowers) and mulched pathways.


Okay, so, I need to stop for a moment and remind you that when I made that plan, I was like 4 weeks postpartum.  I was taking placenta pills every day.  I was nursing for 12 hours a day, but i was sleeping most nights. My toddler was cool - she was watching the fuck out of some Netflix.  I was high on life.  And apparently, living in a fantasy land.

First. Two little girls under two.  The amount of time it used to take to do something, it now takes 5 times as long.  I'm not really exaggerating.  I feel a lot of the time like I'm trying to run in quicksand.  We're in a hurry, we have to get out the door, but oh my god, first we have to change the baby, then change G, then find G's shoes, then get G's jacket, while someone's getting the baby into her seat and now G's lost Meow and we have to find her, where was she last?  In the bedroom, go get Meow, okay, we have lunches, diaper bag, laptop, coffee, let's go - GODDAMMIT Finnegan!  You cannot go to work today get back in this house!

I decided pretty quickly that us taking apart and re-appropriating pallets probably wasn't something that was actually going to happen.  I know that there are a lot of people out there who are good at doing projects like that while also having children, but we are not those people.  I feel really proud of myself when a night like tonight happens - we made it to Friday.  So I planned to buy some lumber and build boxes.  I even looked up tutorials.  I had a plan.

By the time the snow had stopped and the days were getting warmer, I'd long since been back at work full time.  My days start at 5:30 a.m. and I don't get to sit down and take that deep "I've done everything I'm supposed to do today and no one needs me at this moment and now I can take a minute to do what I want to do and just breathe" breath until after 10 most nights. (This is why I haven't blogged in 7 months - who has the time?!)  And then everyone started getting sick.  Thanks, Ohio Valley.  And then it was raining for like 4 weeks in a row.   Did I mention I also don't own a truck with which to pick up a truckload or two of compost?

I had a Kroger bag full of seed packets and a couple of Walmart bags full of bulbs and shoots and vines and roots and whatevers - I'd get them out every few days after the girls had gone to bed, or maybe on the rare occasion that they were both napping at the same time on a rainy Saturday afternoon, making notes on a little yellow notepad about how many plants I'd need of each type, how they'd be spaced, how many days to harvest.  I'd started my seeds and it was getting to be time to get them planted.  But I had no dirt and no raised bed boxes built.

Lowe's had some raised beds on sale.  We are lazy.  I bought two, along with 10 bags of garden soil.  Then I bought 10 coffee bean bags from the local roaster down the way.  I filled the bags a quarter full of dirt and seed taters and set them out in the sun, where I'd planned.

It turns out, trees grow leaves in Spring.  I'd not accounted for that when I plotted my garden.

I still get a good solid 7 hours of sun, but I'd forgotten all about the two huge trees at the head and end of our garden patch. And, as it turns out, my back yard, that was all shady all winter, is full of sun in the summer.   And I never did get a truck to go scoop compost, so i ended up buying some garden mix soil and having it delivered.  It wasn't cheap, but at this point, who cares?  (Did I mention the tiller we bought?)

In the end, it's gong to be awesome.  Most things are growing well, and if i can keep the critters away, we should have a good crop come in.  I'm hoping i can keep G interested in helping and learning as the summer progresses and our produce starts showing up on the dinner table.  And I'm trying really hard to not be that 8 year old girl hiding away and ignoring something she loves because someone else can't quite see the same beauty I see.

I asked Jimi, "Is my garden ugly? Is it an eyesore?"

"Yeah, kinda.  But all gardens are.  You put yours there because that's the best place for it."

"But you didn't even try to stop me!  You didn't say one word about me putting out coffee bean bags full of dirt and you even built the bug-net tee pee for me!"

"No, why would I?  You're trying to grow us FOOD, to feed our family. And it's making you so happy.  Why would I say anything to discourage that?  If anyone has a problem with it, I'll tell them to go fuck themselves."

And there you have it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I'm going to start blogging again.

It's nearly 11 p.m. on a Monday night.  Our first Monday back to work after a week-long stay-cation. A week long staycation that was intended to be an opportunity for Jimi and I to catch up on some things around the house - laundry room organizing, painting, maybe a bedroom revamp. We went to the park nearly every day, and the zoo once.  We kept the girls home with us every day but Friday and we were a family all together for 8 whole days and it was wonderful.  We got our house in order (mostly) on the day the girls went to the sitter because it was Friday, the end of the week, and we couldn't possibly enter into our weekend with our house in the state it'd become while we were busy playing all week.  Nothing was painted, nothing was organized (wait- i did organize the pantry. I'm counting that), nothing was revamped.  But, hey, we spent a week together as a family.  There will be time for painting and organizing and revamping when my girls aren't tiny anymore and no longer believe my attention is the most important thing in the world.  All my life I've wanted to be the moon and stars for someone.  Now I am.  For two.  My goodness, it's a lot of work.

So yeah, I had a baby.  Back in November.  Wow.  I'm a bit late with that announcement, I guess.  Poor baby.  I've got a birth story for her drafted and saved on here somewhere.  I'll post it eventually, I promise. I have to.  If I don't, it'll give her a complex.  "You wrote about G but not about me!"  Nah.  Not happening.

Her name is Cora Jaymes, and she's beautiful and perfect in every way.  She arrived at 8:43 a.m. on Saturday November 15, 2014 weighing in at a whopping


It's 11:15 Monday night.  :)  Cora weighed 9 pounds 1.6 ounces at birth, and was 22 inches long.  She's also had a stuffy nose for the last 3 months and it seems to be coming to its peak here lately.  I had to step away just now because she got choked on phlegm in her sleep and started coughing and gagging.  She and Geneva share a room now (as of 2 weeks ago - we finally moved our 19 pound, six month old baby into a crib and out of the bassinet!), so whenever the baby starts to stir, I'm in there as quickly as i can be so she doesn't wake Geneva with her cries.  Also, it's a good idea to respond when you hear your infant gagging.

All of my worries were so dumb.  I gave that last push, the one where you've decided "I don't care how bad it hurts I just need this to be over!" and you give it everything you've got - I gave that last push, and she was out and on my stomach and I looked down at her little purple warm body and saw that sweet little face and my brain was like "Oh.  Of course."  She's my girl, my daughter, my flesh - of course I love her as much as I love Geneva.  Of course it's just that easy.  Of course.  It makes so much sense now, on this side of it, but my mom-of-one brain couldn't grasp the concept.  This love thing, it's fucking powerful.

I can't catch up on everything now, not in this one post.  And maybe there's nothing to catch up on.  We've been living - this time has been so much easier than the first time, but that's not to say it's easy.  Cora nursed easily, but constantly.  My maternity leave was 8 weeks of plopping G in front of something "educational" on Netflix while I nursed our newest family member.  Knowing that cluster feeding is a thing, and that it will pass, saved my sanity this go-round.  Also, placenta encapsulation.  10/10, would do it again.  Jimi's been awesome, as expected.  I think Cora's his favorite, but mostly because she's a sweet cuddly little baby and Geneva says no and screams and demands that "mommy do it".  She's the most awesome 2 year old that ever 2'd.  God, she's cool. Seriously.  Her vocabulary is out of this world, and she speaks so clearly.  She has amazing thoughts and comments and observations.  Well, maybe not, she's 2.  But she's really cool for 2.  She is incredibly polite, and i'm so very proud of that fact.  She says "Thank you" and "Please" and "I'm sorry" in context and with feeling.  She loves her little sister.  She is a typical toddler and throws tantrums a few times an hour, but man, you wave that baby in front of her and it doesn't matter how serious the pout, her face breaks out into an amazing smile full of sunshine and love and she literally starts to coo and goo at Cora.  She hugs her and kisses her and plays with her and takes her toys and tells her stories and is always concerned about "where's baby at?"  Cora, for her part, is an equally awesome little sister. She loves her big sister and watches her every move, and I expect we don't have long before she's mobile.  She cut her first two teeth this past week - we've been anxiously awaiting that day for months, because, as I said, she's been snotty for three months. What else do you blame a snotty happy otherwise-not-sick baby on other than teething?  Cora is going to be a coppery redhead, I think, and it looks like her eyes are going to be a stormy blue or brown.  She's fair like the rest of us, and favors Jimi more than Geneva does.  You can tell they're sisters for sure, and there were times early on when I would watch her nurse and swear I was seeing baby Geneva all over again, but they are each beautiful in their own unique ways and don't really look a whole lot alike.  And I am going to have to be so careful about how I comment on this in front of them, but oh my god Cora is so big compared to Geneva!  Cora is hanging out in the 90th percentile for weight and the 100th for height, whereas G has always been real comfortable right around the 50th percentile mark for both.  There's only a 10 pound difference in their weights right now.  They are 20 months apart.

I can't wait to watch them grow up.  They're beautiful together, and I get to help them and watch them blossom and become the amazing women they're going to be... I'm so excited that this is my life, my journey.  I am so incredibly blessed.  What did I ever do to be so lucky, to deserve such riches?

So that's why I'm going to start blogging again.  Because I've missed too much already, and I don't want to miss more.  I won't get it all, but if I can get even a small snippet of the awesome that is this moment, right now, well, it's a worthwhile investment.

It's 11:52 p.m. on the first Monday after vacation.  The alarm is set for 6 a.m., but my human alarms will ring out at 2:15, 4:00, 5:30 and finally at 5:58 with "Mommy! Milkies!"  (Yes, I'm still nursing my toddler.  STFU about it, okay?)  I've had two beers in the last hour it took to write this and I'll be honest, I've got a bit of a buzz.  A rare reminder of what it used to be like back when I could drink more than half a beer before it got to hot or, more likely, forgotten.  I've missed writing.  It feels good to do it again, like going to the gym after being away for a while, but with more beer and sitting and less sweat and moving.  I'll have to do it more often.  Also, should go to the gym.

I want to go back and edit, but editing is for suckers.  Or people who've had less than 2 beers.  G'night, friends.  Sweet dreams.


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