Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bougie Butts*

It has been a good 3 months.

My girls are...enormous and brilliant and lovely.

Carli is a first rate explorer: she can make it to the top of the stairs in under a minute - something you realize when you decide to pick up the blocks before putting up the baby gate. She can climb just about anything, and luckily, has learned to back off the couch (bed, table, laundry basket) safely.

Violet is smarter everyday, and so imaginative. She is constantly taking care of her 'babies' (which she has named Sylvia, Gwendolyn, Rapunzel, Batilda), imitating Rachel Ray in her play kitchen. She received her first bike for Christmas, and within 20 minutes was shooting around the lot on her own. She is also currently obsessed with reading her abridged version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - which makes for a very long bedtime ritual.

Perhaps the biggest change has been one that hasn't happened yet. Jason and I have decided to go back to school. My schooling was interrupted by Violet's conception, and Jason's never really started. The thought of school has always stayed in the back of my mind, but with no real direction. However, after nearly 5 years of discussion, Jason decided he wants to be a veterinarian. I am so happy for him, and completely support this decision; I can't wait to get started.

But it is a real commitment; there are only about 40 schools that offer Veterinary degrees in the country. We want to find a place the girls will be happy, where we can all be happy, for the 8+ years it will take for us to get our degrees. Jason will have to get a bachelor's and a master's, and I will be working full time, and only able to attend 1 or 2 classes a semester. So we are on the lookout for a place that matches our family. Our current leaders are Knoxville, TN (university of Tennessee), and Columbia, MO (University of Missouri). We don't know if we will aim for this coming fall, or wait a year so Violet can attend pre-k here. Big decisions afoot.

So that is what we have been up to. You know, plus Thanksgiving and Christmas and my parents moving to Kentucky and Halloween and homemade costumes and blonde hair and red hair and Violet in the Christmas program and changing churches and joining a playgroup and Carli's month long ear infection that wouldn't die and visiting Knoxville and changing my meds and Violet chopping off all her hair and about a million other things I can't remember right now.

*The term of endearment Violet made up for Carli. Now commonly heard in our house.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Working on That Woman

2 days after the last post, my mother asked me to help her write her biography.

I have been blogging for over 2 years, and being a Blogger, no matter how small time, has become part of my identity. Being on the BlogHer ad roll has given me a huge sense of pride.

But I need to focus on this for now. I need my thoughts to be geared toward bettering myself, to be centered on my mom's amazing story.

Not to say I won't be here occasionally; blogging is a drug, the therapy that has gotten me through the past 2 years. But I need it to be occasional, not necessary. A writing treat, if you will.

Thank you, Blogher. You helped me realize my self worth, gave me a gentle push on this road I am on now. The road that is long and arduous, but is my silly little dream.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

my list.

The woman I want to be is:

One who sends thank you cards and snail mail.

One who listens to others more than complain.

One who has cool hair, tattoos, piercing, and doesn’t care what others think.

One who does crafts with her kids.

One who smiles most of the day.

One who is actively following her dreams.

One who cleans her house before she goes to bed.

One who wears what she wants.

One who compliments more than criticizes.

One who has fabulous dinner parties.

One who kisses her husband every day for more than 7 seconds.

One who sews and crochets.

One who laughs easily and loudly.

One who loves herself.

One who is always ready for drop-in guests.

One who has solid and quiet faith.

One who accepts compliments gracefully.

One who has a strong family ruled by love and respect, not fear.

One who is a writer.

Some are silly things, some are very serious things. But they are all things that I want to be said about me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chasin' Rainbows

I went to my doctor on Monday, as my anti-depressants prescribed in Alaska have finally run out. My parents love their doctor, so choosing a new guy wasn’t a problem. Ma came with me to watch the kids and have her blood pressure checked…which is a whole other post about my mom and the sickness she has to deal with and how it is isn’t fair that someone so good and wonderful has to deal with all she does.

This appointment was…different. Usually, I go in, tell them I have clinical depression, they give me pills. So the four of us go back to the room, we weigh, we chat with the nurse, we wait. He came in, he looked at my facial orifices, he asked me what was up, I told him I need pills.

But then he talked to me.

Like, really TALKED.

Asked me how I was doing. Asked about my home stresses. Asked why I thought I was sad.

Asked if I wanted to be happy.


Let me tell you, that is a loaded question.

I have had this diagnosis for two and a half years. I know that it is a chemical problem, I know that it is encouraged by hormonal changes. I know this is a physical problem.

But I am coming to realize that I am leaning on it, depending on it as an excuse to not try. To not strive for happiness.

I know that exercise will help me, I know it will release endorphins, will benefit me physically, but also help me feel strong, in control of myself. But it has taken me until now to establish a routine. It has taken an unconscionable amount of time to make myself get off the couch, for my own health.

I know I am too hard on Jason, I lean too much on him, I blame him for too many things. But I do it anyways.

I don’t think that I be able to completely leave medications behind like my doc thinks I can. But I can make myself happier than I am now. Because I sure do cry a lot for someone who is on a steady anti-depressant. So we made a plan.

I have to exercise every morning. With Jason around in the mornings, there is no excuse not to. Today was hard…truthfully, if Jason hadn’t pushed me, I would have skipped it. I was sore and sleepy and grumpy. But now I am glad I did.

I have to lower carb, especially white carb, intake…Doc thinks my body doesn’t like them. (Although I am pretty sure my face does.)

I have to cut out pork. My family had heart disease history, so even though I currently have no cholesterol issues, Doc wants to make sure it stays that way. (sadly, this comes just after I find an awesome garlic lime pork recipe.)

I have to choose to be happy every day. I have to get up, smile, and pray that God helps me make that choice every day.

I have to decide what I want to do with my life. I know this seems strange, but one of the things that makes me sad is not having a dream anymore. Before I got pregnant, I was on a very straight course: bachelors degree (with honors) in theatre, grad school in Philadelphia, a few years in small theatres in New York, then become a professor at a small college. I even had my honors project picked out, lined out. Then I got pregnant, and choosing a profession that pretty much dictates poverty was out of the question. So I have been floundering, trying to decide which ‘normal’ career will make me happy.

I love being a stay at home mom, I adore my kids, and spending every day with them. Bu what is my purpose outside of that?

I want to be a writer (obviously, duh, isn’t that every blogger’s ultimate desire?), but doubts assail me. Something keeps me from taking the steps to do that. Everyone who knows me has heard me talk about writing this book or that book…it has been a long standing dream.

So Doc says I have to believe it will happen. He told me stories of his life, things that made it seem impossible that he would ever get to medical school. But he did, because he worked for it, he never gave up the dream.

So…it is time to grab the dream by the horns again. I have to try.

And my last assignment is to decide what kind of woman I want to be…and become that woman.

I’ll get back to you on that one. I gotta do some research.

Disclaimer: I recognize this is not the path to happiness for everyone. This is just the way I am trying to find my rainbow.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just the way you are, if you're perfect*

This subject is so old hat, I am loathe to bring it up.

But, the truth is, this blog is an expansion of my brain. And part of what is occupying my brain lately is weight loss. Though in my head, it is Weight Loss. And sometimes WEIGHT LOSS.

There is a struggle associated with weight loss that has nothing to do with wanting to eat cupcakes. It is the struggle of whether to try in the first place.

Like many women, the desire to lose is constantly wrestling with the desire to have self-acceptance. By going out of my way to decrease my waist size, am I not basically saying that I dislike myself? I tell myself it is all for my health, that I don’t care how I look as long as I am healthy. But I know that part of what drives me is the desire to wear sizes in the teens, to look at the tag on my jeans and not see a 2 followed by another number.

And how awful is it that I initially typed ‘be a teen size’? Like I am not Rebecca, I am not a woman, a mother, a writer, a wife…I am a 22, and that is what defines me the most?

Also, what about my daughters? I put a lot of effort into teaching them to be strong, independent, caring people. I teach them to eat healthy food, how to exercise their bodies. But by being dissatisfied with myself, am I instilling in them societal beliefs that big people have something wrong with them?

So I move forward gently, quietly. Trying not to call much attention to the face that I am dieting. Not saying the word diet. Doing exercises that resemble salsa dances, jumping jacks, things Violet likes to do. We move and sweat and laugh together, as we try to master the moves before us. Projecting a not-quite-true image of self-love so my daughter doesn’t learn that hating yourself is the norm.

The truth is that for most women in this society, at least the ones I am around, hating yourself is the norm. That we tend to have one or two things we like about ourselves, and hundreds of things we don’t. Really, shouldn’t it be the other way around?

I don’t have a delusion that Violet and Carli are going to love everything about themselves. But my goal, what I strive for is that the things they like severely outweigh the things they hate.

Daily we work on it. Daily I tell them the wonderful things I see in them. Daily I tell myself the wonderful things I see in myself, so that eventually the self-love half-truth can become a whole truth. Daily that list grows.

And daily I eke my way to a healthier me, one that can keep up with them each step of the way. My ultimate goal is not ‘Hot Mom’, I have no desire to look like a super-model. I am not even shooting for a single digit size. The ultimate goal is the size 14 I was when I became pregnant with Violet, which was the healthiest time in my life (mostly due to being too broke for groceries and having to walk miles across campus each day. I don’t plan on using this method.)

But for now, my immediate goal is 2 pounds a week, 40 by December 31. I direct your attention to the tiny box on your right, boldly reminding me each time I come to this site that I have WORK TO DO.

Little by little, step by step, day by day.

*Alanis Morrisette, Perfect

Friday, August 7, 2009

Those Days

Tuesday night, my girls didn’t sleep.

They went to bed at 8:30, sure. Then I cleaned house, folded laundry, did my chores…I went to bed at 12:30.

Carli woke up.

I fed her, changed her, got her back to sleep. I fell asleep about 1:30. Then 2:00 am rolled around.

Violet woke up.

Not from a bad dream, not for any reason. She just wanted to be up.

She fell asleep around 4, during which time I fed Carli another time. I fell asleep around 4:10.

My wonderful husband let me sleep until 11, but I woke up in a mood.

My bad days are few and far between, but when they hit, they are vengeful. And when I have so many good days in a row, like I have been…the bad days are just awful.

I snapped at Jason. I cried into a pillow. I wanted to crawl into my cocoon, like I always do when the bad days come.

It just makes me feel so out of control. My girls aren’t the targets, my husband is. I pick fights. I call him names. I scream at him.

He has been through this enough to know when it is an episode. That it is chemical in my brain, not representative of how I really feel. But he still has the patience of a saint to sit through it.

After he went to bed, my sister called. She took us out of the house, and gradually, my day ebbed away.

I am still a little edgy today, especially when my blood sugar got low, and Jason grabbed my butt in the grocery store. I usually love that, but NOT when I am on edge…

Tomorrow, I should be back to normal.

These days are getting farther and farther away. I just wish…I just can’t wait until they are gone forever.

I hope that it happens. I know it might not ever go away. But I can hope.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday Night Rocks the House

My nights are pretty tame. Primetime hits, and I sit on the couch, feeding Carli her bedtime bottle. Violet sits beside me, and we watch whatever I deem safe for her to watch.

Tonight, it was her favorite, America’s Got Talent (love me the guys in the pageboy caps and suspenders…RAWR)…just about the only show I can get her to sit through the entire hour for. Well, the first hour was the one where they pared the contestants down to 40...and I bawled through the whole hour. Then they showed the previews for the new season of The Biggest Loser…and I bawled. (her WHOLE family DIED!!!!) I am fairly sure I bawled through a Sprint commercial. (Their 3G network is SO BIG!)

I need to get out more.

My gypsy heritage affords me many perks…curves no matter how much weight I gain, olive-ish skin that rarely sunburns, the propensity to be the loudest in the room and thus Center of Attention.

However, it also comes with hair. True, the stuff in my head is thick and adorable (I humbly proclaim), but the stuff growing out of my chin is equally thick and not nearly as adorable.

Seriously. I can get up in the morning with nary a hair…and by lunch, my fingers will feel the beginnings of one starting to poke through. And that baby is BLACK and THICK and while that may work for Beyonce, I am not feeling it, yo.

The BEST (insert sarcasm here) is when I am at Target, handing the clerk my debit card, and Jason says, “Reka, you have more facial hair than I do!”

Not that that has happened recently. OH WAIT YES IT HAS.

Carli does not stop moving while she is awake. She hasn’t started crawling, but she can get anywhere on the first floor of my house in less than a minute by rolling her little self at the speed of light. Sometimes so fast she spits up from dizziness.

She’ll climb onto the shelf under my coffee table and sort through my books. She’ll roll under her swing so she can lay on her back and push it with her feet. She makes a bee line (caterpillar line?) for anything Violet leaves on the floor.

Her favorite is the shoes, though.

Living in Canada, then Alaska, for so many years has cultivated a habit of taking off our shoes at the door. This creates a pile of shoes near our front door. Which Carli likes to roll around in.

I came down the stairs this morning (Jason watches the girls when he gets off work so I can sleep till 8), There was Carli, laying on the floor, grin huge, dimples flashing…hugging Jason’s topsider.

That’s my girl.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Good-bye, crappy first half of the year.

Jason works the night shift at a hotel. He goes to bed at 2 in the afternoon, sleeps until 10, is at work by 11. This is a schedule that works for us as a family: we go to the beach at least once a week, during the day when the tourists are low; we go grocery shopping as a unit; he gets to go do the menial errands, like paying the water bill and going to the bank, without me. I get to take Violet to pre-school story time at the Library without lugging along CJ. I don’t have to drag both girls along with me to doctor’s appointments.

But there are certain things I miss…the main one being primetime television with Jason. Even though his night schedule increases family time, it severely decreases couple time. This leads to watching a lot of America’s Got Talent/Wipout type shows with Violet instead.

In order to still have time to connected, I stay up late on Friday nights. Jason doesn’t change his sleep schedule on the weekends; we found out through trial and error that it just made for a grumpy, grumpy husband. So, Friday, I put the girls to bed and hang out by myself for awhile, until Jason wakes up. Then we watch a movie or whatever TV-on-DVD he is currently hooked on, laugh, catch up on our lives, sans kids.

So, I was up at midnight on Friday, and realized that August was officially here.

The year is officially on its way out.

Thank Heaven.

There have been some amazing things that have happened this year. We have moved to a lovely place where I get to go to the beach for no reason at all. I have a beautiful, wonderful little elf of a new baby girl. I get to finally be the Stay at Home Mom I longed to be.

But, ho-lee. Everything this year has been a struggle. I feel like I have been clawing my way to normal all year. From the reoccurrence of my PPD to Carli puking up nearly everything we fed her to just the one million everyday things that seemed to take over my brain. Nothing tragic, just…hard. Maybe it was the whole Mercury-in-retrograde thing.

But the past month or so, things have started to lighten up. Maybe because my brain is beginning to return to normal, maybe because we are settling into life here. Whatever the reason, I am grateful.

And I am looking forward to fall. It is my favorite time of year…pumpkins and scarecrows and crunchy leaves and the tinge of non-barbecue smoke in the air. Halloween and Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to take Violet and CJ trick-or-treating without having to layer them in long johns. And to have cool nights when I can wear my favorite, 10 year old hooded sweatshirt again.

I am just excited. Something has lifted, and I feel joyous again. Bring it on, last half of 2009.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Last Baby

We have decided we are done procreating.

We originally planned to have only one, our wonderful Violet. But as she grew into toddler-hood, I knew that I wanted her to experience having a sister. I have two awesome sisters who I am very close to, and I want my girl to have that experience.

So we decided to try for number two.

(also playing into that decision was the desire to have a kid on purpose. Novel concept, eh?)

We got pregnant right away, the first month we tried. And were so happy. Ecstatic. I bought a heap of onsies to celebrate.

Then, we lost him. Fairly early into the pregnancy, but still. I was traumatized. I spent a week on the sofa, staring at the sky, the TV, my daughter. I decided not to try again. I couldn’t deal with the heartache.

But four months later, completely by surprise, the second line showed up. I threw up. Sobbed. Called my mother. Shook as I told Ali, my best friend. Then I took a deep breath and dove into the pregnancy.

It was hard. Especially the first 20 weeks, when the movements were infrequent and the cheap at-home heartbeat-listening device didn’t work.

We got past it. I made it through the pregnancy that seemed to last forever, though she was born 2 weeks early. (though I did find out I was pregnant at 3 weeks 6 days, so it WAS a long time.)

Then the post partum depression went into full-blown Action. I barely got out of bed for 2 weeks. I lay in bed with a remote and the baby. I barely ate. Jason took care of Violet, and I…descended into my cocoon. I thank God I have an awesome and understanding husband; we gently discussed what was going on and what steps we could take to make things better.

And they got better. I got out of bed. I started interacting with the world again. I started taking the full dosages of my medicine again. And my family bloomed.

We are content. Our little family of four is perfect for us. Violet adores her baby sister, and Carli positively beams at Violet. I love the baby snuggles I get. I love the drooly, open mouthed kisses. I love the downy head and the neck rolls and the arms and legs that never stop moving.

But I am done with pregnancy. I am done with the immobile first months. She is now in the 6-12 month sizes, which means she gets to wear brighter, cuter toddler clothes; my days of pastel one-pieces are behind me. I will never again wait for the first tooth to pop out, or have to constantly support a weak neck, or try to disguise that bald spot babies get from moving their head back and forth constantly.

I am thrilled. Honestly, completely one hundred percent ECSTATIC.

I have been going back and forth since she born, wondering…am I really done? Maybe I need one more. Or maybe even 5 or 6!


We were planning our 2011 family reunion, and I realized-I am going to have a 2 year old and a five year old. I will have CHILDREN, not babies, people who can actually, you know, do some things FOR THEMSELVES.

And I love that thought.

I am not really a baby person. I hate being pregnant. I have depression that just loooves to feed off my hormones. We don’t desire to have a boy; Jason is perfectly happy with his two blue-eyed beauties.

I am excited to move out of that trying to have babies/having babies section of my life; to completely throw myself into the parenting my children part of my life.

Jason will be getting a vasectomy (or fixed, as I like to say) sometime in the near future.

Which led to this conversation:

‘So, when I get my thing done, will I still, you know, shoot out anything?’
‘Yes, you’ll still have semen, just not sperm. Did you think you would just shoot air?!?’
‘Wait a second…can you not say vasectomy???’
‘No! No, no, no, no…it hurts just to say it.’

And that is why I am glad we don’t have a boy.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

W.T., or Dubya Tee

I went home to Kentucky last week.

Yes, I am a down home country girl, born and bred in the blue-grassland. But not the hat-wearing, julep-sipping east Kentucky. The mine-stripped, dying, backwoods west Kentucky.

The town I am from has one stop light. One convenience store that also serves as restaurant and tanning salon. A tiny post office, one lonely baseball diamond.

I attended the elementary school, but by the time my youngest sister was old enough to attend, the community had to close it down. The kids were bussed to a neighboring town.

My street…destitute is the only word to describe it. Our house was one passed down through my dad’s family, old and creaky, but large and solid. You couldn’t say the same for our neighbors. They were living in literal shacks: 3 small rooms made of flimsy wood covered in tar paper. Skinny, mangy dogs roamed the streets; skinny, dirty children did as well.

My parents kept us clean and fed and mannered. I know it wasn’t easy.

We moved to Canada when I was a teen, and the majority of my pre-adult years were spent in a pleasant, middle class suburb in lovely Alberta. I received a great education in a bright, cared-for, well-respected school. There was very little White Trash in my years succeeding that move.

But I always feared that White Trash is what I truly am. I would become the woman with the bleached hair and stale cigarette in a tar paper shack. I wondered if that was my true destiny, if it would one day catch up to me. If my heart and soul didn’t belong in rundown, beat-up western Kentucky.

My trip has assured me I have nothing to worry about. I am not that person.

Because that person isn’t about not having money, about living in a poorer part of town. What really makes someone White Trash is attitude.

Being racist. Telling my sister that you mourn her future hard life with her black boyfriend. Complaining about those adopted black cousins while they are in earshot.

Believing every email forward you get about President Obama being an Islamic non-American who burns flags and eats babies.

Holding grudges. Believing you are a better person than everyone around you, and never forgetting any mistakes they made.

Believing you are the absolute Right, and never entertaining the notion that you may not have all the answers.

I am not that person.

I may wear too much eye-liner. I may have only have clothes that are second-hand. I may make a joke that seems racy or off-center.

But I believe everyone is equal. That if you are going to preach respect for authority, that includes our awesome President, no matter what Rush Limbaugh says. That a mistake is in the past, and it forms who you are in the future. I don’t need to be asked four times in three days if my ‘wild steak is over.‘ Because if I hadn’t run off to Alaska and gotten knocked up, there would be no Violet Lynn, and consequently, no Carli Jay.

I am a left-wing, garage-rock-loving, Sunday School teaching, tattoo adoring, punk rock wannabe hippie, and I am proud.

I may be from a dinky little poor town in Kentucky, but it does not define me as White Trash.

Also, Kentucky makes my allergies act up.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Going to family reuinion...first time I will have seen most of my relatives in over 5 years. Am excited. Have to finish packing and sleep...leaving in 7 hours. Maybe shower, too.
Yep. Definitely shower, too.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

i let Jason cut my hair.

gave him the scissors and let him go to town.

told him to just not touch my bangs.

he came up with this:

Sweetney, if you ever see this...it is a form a flattery? cause yours is so cool? and way more awesome than mine anyways? and i shouldn't worry, cause their is no way that you, awesome queen of the cool blogger world, would even see this anyways? but if you do, I LURVE you?

Friday, July 10, 2009


5 month old is teething.
3 year old is an anarchist.
head hurts.
rainy days make my joints hurt.
surrendering my bed to offspring and sleeping tensely on 1/4 the amount i need makes muscles hurt.
as does constant rocking/holding of teething 5 month old.
eyes won't focus.
need to clean.
can't move.
need vacation.
or maybe just sleep.
and ibuprofen.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


It is thick, liquid, sensuous. Heavy. Saucy.

On the Gulf, it is a drier ocean heat, still stifling, but with more escape. Thirty miles inland, there is no way out. The air sits on you heavily, too overwhelmed to move about. It is walking through invisible fire.

It radiates up from the ground, steaming you like so many dumplings. It is tangible, visible in the distance as wavy, psychedelic tricks of the eye.

The saving grace of air conditioning and electric outdoor fans makes one wonder how anyone survived in this heat before electricity. You can understand women having the vapors when they are in this heat, wearing crinolines and petticoats and having only iced tea and rocking chairs to cool them. You wonder how anyone could survive without the crisp, bracing rush that happens when you step inside to a climate controlled room from the outside, where you can control nothing: the bugs, the dirt, the never-ending heat.

But there is something unnervingly sassy about this heat. Something strong, something that speaks of women farming their own food and caring for enormous households while insisting on grace and intelligence. It is impossible to be a wallflower in this heat; it demands you stand up and be noticed. It is not making the best of a situation, or merely existing; it is enveloping everything around it and taking it in, claiming it, squeezing it close.

It is its own entity, a personification that embodies a southern woman. The kind I wish I could be.

It is thick, liquid, sensuous. Heavy. Saucy.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


'can we go to the beach, mom?'
'no, vi. it's night time.'
'well...it isn't windy!'

'can i have a cupcake?'
'i don't have any cupcakes.'
'well... i will just have a little one, then.'

'can i have a drink of your tea, mom?'
'just one, vi, it is almost bed time.'
'well...i will have only 2 then.'

and so on...this is my day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

beach bum.

Violet was a dyed-in-the-wool Alaskan girl. She was born in mid-April, and it snowed on the way home from the hospital.

She traipsed in furry boots and ski coats and toques. She threw her first snowball before she was 2, she has hiked the Chugach Mountains and petted Iditarod sled dogs. She seemed impervious to cold, lamenting a jacket if the weather was above 60.

I wondered how she would do in the sweltering heat of Florida.

But as I look at her in jean cut-offs and a tank top, ridiculously golden brown, I think I had nothing to worry about.

She refuses shoes unless absolutely necessary; when she does wear them, they are flip-flops, in which she can run like the wind. She smells of sunscreen and sand and little girl sweat, of playgrounds and beaches and sunny, happy days.

She initially shied away from the ocean, but now wishes with all her heart to be a mermaid. She and her father will spend hours wading and floating; he is so patient with her as he gently teaches her to swim in the lovely Gulf. She digs holes for crabs and builds sand castles and fills up her watering can and waters the beach. She searches for stones and shells and whatever treasures the ocean brings her.

If allowed, she would spend every day, all day frolicking along the sugar beaches of this place.

My girl, she is a beach bum.

Violet, sunny self portrait

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

4 month post, oh, hey, look, it is late AGAIN

I do love you, CJ, really. But the thing you have to learn about your mother is that she is a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to things that aren't staring her in the face. Like her blog.

You had your well-baby visit today. You are 25 inches long and 13 lbs, 11 oz. Which is about what your sister weighed at this age, but she had a couple of inches on you. I am afraid, darling, that you are going to be looking up to her for awhile.

You doctor was amazed at your muscle strength. You hold your head with nary a wiggle, you try to pull yourself up to sit. You scoot stupendously for a babe your age, and have quite the grip, my dear.

And you are still my bubbly girl. You already babble more than Vi did at 6 months, and you don't care if anyone is listening to you. But if they ARE, you reward them with your huge, open mouth grin. And if they get close enough to you, your growl slightly and attack their face with drooly, mouth-wide-open kisses.

As long as you are fed, you are content. You will hang out on a blanket on the floor, watching your sister or trying to roll over to your toy placed strategically juuuuust out of your reach. Or I will hold you up on your feet so you can dance, and you laugh and laugh and laugh.

We started feeding you brown rice cereal. It is a little early, yes, but it helps you will this slightly (very) gross spitting-up habit you have. Mama got tired of changing your clothes 6 times a day. You love LOVE the cereal. You chase the spoon, you laugh and wave and giggle, and get cereal from your ears to your toes. Sometimes (most times) I end up finding dried cereal in some nook about an hour later.

All in all, we find something new to love about you every day, whether it is your zombie tendencies or the faces you make to make Violet laugh. You are the ray of sunshine in our lives.

You have only been around 17 weeks or so, but we can't imagine life without you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

blerg is all i can manage.

spent the week volunteering at a junior camp.

my feet look like they have leporsy from the bug bites.

my legs and back and neck ache.

i have an odd farmer's tan.

cj came back with a bug, and has only recently stopped puking.

violet was a camper.

i had no idea a child could be so filthy.

she was the youngest by 4 years.

she joined in nearly everything and had a blast.

I forgot how much i love to go to camp.

I am really psyched i went.

but i am now really psyched to be back in the land of air conditioning and street lamps and target.

and did i mention air conditioning?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Yeah. This weight loss thing. Still kicking my butt.

I know the blame belongs solely to me, and if I really wanted it bad enough, I would do it. I just haven't found the motivation. But I think I am making strides.

See, I had a reward program set up according to percentage of weight lost. But I keep justifying things. Like, if I don't exercise, maybe I'll just eat less later. But I don't, see. I just eat what I would anyways. Dumb, I know. But that is me.

So my new rewards program is according days worked out. Every day I go for a jog, I earn one day towards my prize. They won't be consecutive, but I am aiming for 3-5 times a week. 30 days gets me a new haircut (concave bob!); 60 is my second lobe piercing; 90 is for my conch piercing (a silver ball nestled into the bowl part of your ear.)

I am hoping this will help. Because it really doesn't have to do with my weight. Obviously, the weight will come off with exercise; but I mainly want health. I want to be 50 without diabetes and arthritis. Heck, I want to be 30 without those things. I want to be active for my kids, and when they (finally :) ) move out in 18 years, I want to enjoy my time with Jason. So I need to take steps now.

so, I guess we will see what happens in 30 jogging days.

Monday, June 1, 2009


I used to work for Children's Services. I was merely a clerk, but the unit I worked for saw every case that came through the department. I loved the people I worked with; we were a tight group of 6, and really believed in what we were doing.

The problem was that I had to see details of every horrible thing that came along. I was the assistant for 4 wonderful people that facilitated meetings that decided what direction the cases would take. We didn't make the decisions, just acted as mediators for the people involved in the case. Some wonderful things would happen: parents would clean up their act and, with the help of truly amazing community helpers, were reunited with their kids.

But sometimes, really awful things would happen to kids. We would have to hold emergency meetings to find places for kids who had been removed from horrific situations, find resources for these completely innocent kids who had been subjected tot he worst kinds of abuse. And, though we did a lot of good, I had to leave the unit. When a bad case would come through, I would be affected for days, weeks, not able to get them off my mind.

Today, 2 and a half years later, I stumbled across a story of a girl who was horrifically, ridiculously abused. I couldn't breathe. I turned off the computer, and tried to occupy my mind. Violet and CJ are at my mom's for a couple of days, I couldn't hold them and ease my soul, so I tried reading, watching TV, taking a bath with a new magazine. But I couldn't let it go.

So I went back to the story. I read it all the way through; the abuse was bad, some of the worst I have ever seen. But at the end, I read that the 'parents' are in jail, and will stay there. And though it may make me a bad person, I have to admit, I enjoyed reading that they have had to have transfers because they were getting it as bad as they gave.

But the best part, the part that has balmed my soul, was the people commenting. People as outraged as I am. People petitioning for proper burial for this poor baby who was tortured so. People making sure the 'parents' stay in jail for a long time.

I know that there are more good people than bad. I know that this world may have some hideous people in it, but that they are outnumbered by people willing to sacrifice and work to make sure that children don't have to grow up in a place where they cannot find happiness.

Thank you, general public. Thank you, good citizens, for doing what you can. For being outraged at bad behavior. For reminding me that for every bad person out there, there are hundreds of good people to make the world right. For proving that compassion is not dead, and we are not a culture of people immune to the suffering of others.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Baby Stretches

Violet has decided we have to call her C. J.
Seems like a spunky name for the spunky girl.
Doesn't that baby belly just. KILL. YOU.

Also pictured: awesome purple nail polish.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Back and Forth

Having 2 kids is tough.

It really, really is.

One of them is always hungry or tired or dirty or stinky or mad or hyper or puking or happy. There is a constant sucking of your life force as you make sure all their needs are met.

I remember thinking, before Carli was born, that life with one was cake. Sure, there were struggles, but overall, I was able to hold on to myself while still meeting all my kid's needs. Adding one more surely would be cake as well. After all, I had done it all before.


Maybe it is because my last infant experience involved 9 hours of day care a day, due to me having to go back to work immediately. This one involves me being that 9 hours of daycare, as well as preschool to Violet. Cook and maid. Laundress and chief errand-runner.

I adore being a stay-at-home mom. This is my dream come true. And I am lucky in that Jason works nights...so we get him for a good chunk of time during the day, before he hits the sack at 2. Meaning I get to sleep a little longer than the girls, thereby taking sleep deprivation off the table. And he is very helpful, and very involved in the girl's days. I get to take Violet to the library without Carli, I get to have an extra hand when cleaning up.

But it does get frustrating. I can't understand why he can't multi-task like I am forced to when he is not available. Both the girls decide they need to scream as soon as he goes to bed. I can't vacuum or do laundry while he is asleep because the sounds would wake him up. And I have to stay up until he leaves, so he doesn't sleep through the alarm, or forget his lunch, or not take coffee.

This whole Family-of-Four thing is incredibly rewarding. I am blessed beyond belief, and there are times when both girls are on my lap, and Violet leans over to give her beloved sister a kiss, when my cup runneth over. I wouldn't change it for anything, and occasionally I think, let's add a few more!

Then I stop being crazy. Because, good heaven above, this is way more work than I ever imagined.

But so worth it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


About nine o'clock every night, Carli starts to get fussy. This signals us to get ready for bed.

I get 2 diapers, a fresh bottle, and both girls; we head upstairs.

The first stop is the girl's room. Violet picks out her jammies...she insists on matching sets. No rainbow shirt with heart shorts...both pieces must match in order to avoid a tantrum. Carli gets a cotton, stretchy romper...usually the same brand every night, as we have only find two places that make them to fit my girls properly. Carli has followed her sister's lead in (thankfully) obtaining her father's tall, slightly gangly, thin, muscular body. Though well fed, the girl's have narrow hips and no butts to speak of. So it is hard to fit her into clothes that are made for babies who are generally shorter and rounder.

We change butts and climb into our jammies in the girl's room; however, we don't sleep there, as Jason is still trying to assemble Carli's crib, and the room currently contains a rickety crib, nails, screw, and tools. And Violet likes to explore when she should be sleeping.

Violet brushes her teeth while I get Carli into her swaddle...she will sleep without it, but not as soundly. I climb into my jammies, which definitely do not have to match, and rarely do. Violet finishes with her teeth, bangs her Diego brush on the sink twice, and puts it in the drawer. She then climbs up into the middle of my bed, beside her dad, who has been sleeping for about 7 hours at that point. Jason grunts and rolls over slightly.

I stick a Christmas movie into the PS3 (Violet demands Christmas and nothing else). I start the movie, grab Carli, and settle into the left side of the bed. I hold my second-born and feed her the final bottle of the night as my first-born lays on her father's chest, and chatters quietly about the movie.

After about 10 minutes, Carli loses suction on her bottle. She stares at my face under hooded eyes, and smiles lazily at me...dimples flashing and soy milk formula drizzling out of the corner of her mouth. I give her one last kiss and lay her in her bassinet.

Violet abandons her father, and curls up to me. She tries to stay awake, at least until the Jack-In-the-Box scene in Elf, before her head tilts towards the headboard, her mouth drops open, and her eyes close. She plays hard, so she sleeps hard as well...one can move her all over the bed without waking her; this is useful, as she thinks the whole bed is her territory.

I lay there with my girls, maybe reading, maybe watching the movie, until 10:15 comes. Then is time to wake Jason for work, to go make his lunch, to straighten the living room for the day and start the dishwasher. A few minutes of sleepy chat, then he is off to work the night away.

Then, the evening is mine. For cruising the Internet, for watching late night t.v., for reading the books Violet helps me pick out on our weekly library trip.

But more often than not, I head back up the stairs and pass out in between my lovely, sleepy girls.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The (belated) 3 Month Post [see also Months 1 and ...okay, okay, I haven't done those and I truly stink at this keep-track-of-your-baby's-milestones]

My precious, beautiful, sweet angel fairy of a girl.

God knew I needed a good baby.

Your sister can be a bit of a handful. Lovely and smart and wonderful, but stubborn and fiercely independent. But you even help with this...she loves to hug you and make you smile. She wants you, her 'baby stister', to be happy all the time.

And you usually comply.

You have laughed in your sleep from the time you were a few weeks old, your mouth wide open and dimples flashing. Now, you laugh even more when you are awake: when your poppie, my dad, blows on your belly; when your Auntie Mandie makes funny noises at you; when you see your baba, my mom. You are truly surrounded by people who love and dote on you, and you know it. Very rarely are you not wholy content.

And the sleeping...the sleeping through the night...oh my oh my, I never would have guessed. I spent the first year of your sister's life only having a full night's sleep a handful of times. But you, my angel...you go to sleep about 10:30, just as your dad is getting ready to leave for work, and you stay that way until 7 or so the next morning. I don't think you will realize how very grateful I am for that until you have a child of your own.

You have your issues, of course...there are times when you will only be held...mainly when I am trying to clean or cook...resulting in a slightly messy house and some really awful meals, meals that your dad will eat only until his hunger has been relieved, then push away. I wanted to cry the first time it happened, but now, it just makes us laugh.

But you are overall and so completely one of the best babies I have ever seen. You are so truly content and sweet, wanting only a smile or kiss to make you happy. I pray everyday that you keep this personality you have been blessed with.

As for your milestones...I have been taking things a lot easier with you. With your sister, I scoured websites and magazines and doctor's brochures to make sure she was on target (ok, to make sure she was advanced). With you...I am just letting you set your own pace. You hold up your head, and you look people in the eyes. You are trying to sit up on your own, and have rolled onto your belly 3 times...onto your side, many more, but you can't always figure out what to do with your arms. You have teeth buds above where your canines will be, and the infernal, incessant drooling has begun. Your favourite thing is to be held in a standing position, and you will stay like that until whoever you charmed into holding you cramps up. You jabber, especially just after you wake, and it starts off my day with insane happiness. And you have this look on your face all the time, this look that is part surprise, part happiness, and part pure, unaltered sweetness.

I adore you, baby girl.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

my first bad comment! YAY!

okay, okay, okay! this means someone I don't know is actually reading my blog! Validation!

seriously, I am a little too excited about this.

now i must dissect.

1. Calorie Free food is NOT food.
DUR! The point of no-cal or lo-cal coffee is so I CAN have oatmeal or a protein shake or bran flakes...something with a load of fiber and some protein thrown in.
2. Sugar-free sweetener is poison.
I use Splenda or Stevia...I am not pouring aspartame on my food here, people.
3. Processed foods are full of trans fats and chemical preservatives = more poison.
1 microwave pizza containing no trans fats? I think I'll be ok.
4. Microwaved food is stripped of its nutrients.
see above. also, the locally grown carrots and tomatoes we ate with it were not stripped of their nutrients.
5. Diet Coke = Aspartame = bigtime poison.
Diet Coke with Splenda=Splenda=haHAAAA!
6. Popcorn is genetically modified; I won't call it poison but I don't trust it either.
Seriously? you must have a ton of fun at the movies.
Summation: You are starving yourself to death, even while struggling to keep your weight down. This is the irony of the "SAD" (Standard American Diet). You get fat and malnourished at the same time. Eventually some virus or germ comes along and your body won't be able to fight it because your natural resistance will be depleted. The best thing you ate yesterday was the chocolate. - assuming you don't have diabetes (yet). I hope you feed your kids better than you feed yourself.

I SERIOUSLY doubt I am starving.

I take a multivitamin every day. If you look through our cupboards, you will find whole grain-high fiber bread. 100% Mango and Tangerine Juice. Organic, locally grown produce...apples and oranges and bananas, carrots and cabbage and squash and celery, at the moment. Nothing containing trans fats or high fructose corn syrup, even though that means my grocery shopping takes longer.

My daughter gets cookies and ice cream, and yes, even occasionally soda. Not every day, but i firmly believe a child deserves treats. But she is just as likely to ask for carrots or bananas. She eats gumbo and curry and stir fry and sushi and her favourite thing in the world is a burrito. How many 3 year old's have a palate that varied?

But as far as the whole tone of your comment, Miss(ter) Anonymous, I believe you may have missed an important point in my post.


Yesterday, I FAILED at eating. The fact is some days, it is incredibly difficult to eat appropriately. I knew I made bad food decisions. But I made an oath to be honest about my journey here. And I will continue to be. Even when it includes *gasp!* microwave pizza.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


yes, well. um. I've been busy?

The past two days have conspired against me. first was the need for coffee yesterday, only there was no sugar free flavouring...and one can't drink coffee without that, right?
Then i was asked to speak talking to a 6th grade class about life in Alaska, got home an hour after our usual lunch time, and ended up splitting a microwave pizza with Violet (though that ended up being under 300 calories). And though I only ate one serving for dinner, I ate the other serving at midnight while feeding carli.

And today, well. crap. had the no calorie coffee today, but then it went downhill. actually, uphill in the sense that we were given (FREE!) a washer and dryer, downhill in the sense that i hadn't eaten by 1, so had a chocolate bar and a diet coke for lunch. then my perfectly healthy roast and farmer's market veggies turned out so horrific, it could only be consumed with gravy.

I did have light popcorn for snack, though!


I am living, luckily, with the Scarlett O'Hara motto: "Tomorra is anotha day..."

In the meantime, have a couple of adorable pictures.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I like myself.


I do.


see, it is not about how i look. frankly, i think i look pretty fab as i am. and my delightful husband loves me no matter what my size.

Right now, that size is 22.

I am a big girl; it runs in my family. As does flirting and laughing loud.

And diabetes. Arthritis. Heart Disease.

Already, my knees creak when it is going to rain. My shoulder becomes immobile if I hold Carli for too long in the same position. I have to have extra cushioning on my bed, because the extra weight puts too much pressure on my bones otherwise.

Since becoming a Stay at Home mom, my fitness has gone downhill. I get winded going up the stairs. I tire way to easily. I sweat (though delicately and in a lady-like fashion) WAY too much.

So I have been trying causually make changes. Slimfast, walks while pushing the double stroller.


I have a weakness for leftovers, as in I will devour the entire amount of leftovers from last night along with my morning shake.

I talk myself out of the girls' daily walks...'oh, we are running low on time, we'll drive to the park this time.'

So I need accountability.

My hope, along with many others who have tried this method, is that by publishing my struggles, by being honest with what is going on under my (adorable) clothes, I will stay on a more straight path.

so...here we go.

April 27th, 2009
256 pounds

Bring on the diet and exercise.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I fell in love with Carli before she was born. The same thing happened with Violet...love was there, was real, and when they finally exited my womb...it was home. It was warm. I know there is but one importance in my life - mothering these two girls.

But for days, weeks after she was born, I was fairly certain I had made a huge mistake.

I didn't know how to pay attention to Violet while I was feeding my newborn. I hated telling her I couldn't do something because her sister needed me more. And the crying...oh, the crying. Even with a good-natured baby like Carli, who giggles in her sleep and wakes up thrilled to see you...there is crying. There is middle-of-the-night screeching for a bottle, there is wailing for a wet diaper, there is caterwauling because she knocked her binky out of her mouth again. Violet had been talking for so long that I had forgotten how to deal with a child who can't communicate. And her crying turned into my sobbing in the middle of the night, begging Jason to wake up and hold her so I can sleep for 20 minutes.

I retreated to bed. Carli and I stayed in bed all day, leaving only to pee or grab a snack...though not often-my appetite was gone. I stared at the TV, I breastfed when Carli was hungry, I changed her diaper, then I fell asleep again. The two of us were averaging 20 hours a day.

Thank God, Jason was home on leave. He cared for Violet during my dark days, he made me take my meds. He asked me whether this was a leave-me-alone cry or a hold-me cry. Because I was crying between every nap.

Returning to my full dosage of meds helped, but only barely. I was still awash in a fog of sadness. After many many long, boring conversations about our options, Jason and I decided to wean off breastfeeding. The (imagined) guilt of taking meds while feeding my girl combined with the flood of hormones required to create the milk on top of the pressure of being the only person responsible for the well-being of my precious new cargo was crushing me.

I realize my choice is controversial. Many women actually experience a decrease in PPD while breastfeeding. Many women feel they cannot bond properly if they formula feed. I just know that this was the right choice for us.

But this is not about breastfeeding. This is about emerging from the cave of my PPD.

It was not immediate. There was a large measure of faking it till I made it. Everyday, I told myself I was a wonderful mother who knew what was best for my child(ren). Everyday, I told myself I was a good wife, that Jason hadn't made a mistake marrying me. And eventually I began to believe myself.

Today, I was on my way to the grocery store. Jason was home with the girls; his new job is a night job that allows us to see him during the days. I thought of how I had left them: Carli on her play mat, Jason and Violet on either side of her, trying to teach her to kick the toys. Carli was grinning, Jason and Vi laughing. And I realized I have everything I could ever want for. Our life is not perfect, and I make mistakes every single day. I won't be happy every day, and there will be times I will forget that moment of clarity.

But today, for about 15 minutes, I was deliriously happy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Violet's Favourite Subject

We had our wonderful Casio Exilim point and shoot for nearly 3 years when it stopped being dependable. It lasted far longer than expected -after having it less than a year, we took it to the beach, where it ended up caked with sand. Jason was able to clean it out, and though the power button never worked again, it was quite a fine little camera.

At Christmas, however, we had a hard time taking clear pictures, and finally resigned ourselves to buying a new camera. And instead of buying the made-for-toddler camera we were looking at, we handed the Exilim over to Violet.
We don't edit the pictures...we leave them exactly as she takes them. A little glimpse into the world as she sees it.

And as a proud big sister, she has a clear favourite when it comes to subjects.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Baby and the Beach

Carli Jay Hopkins.

Born February 6, 2009.


She is gorgeous and smiley. She is happy and calm and everything that Violet wasn't in the first 7 weeks. Often I get to sleep for 5 hours at a time, and rarely do I not know why she is crying. She is lovely, and we are so very blessed.

Life has not been all roses, though. I had a serious dip in my depression, even while maintaining my med usage. There were at least 3 days in the first 2 weeks when I didn't leave my bed. I cried. I snuggled with Carli. I snuggled with Violet when she came into my room. Thank God, Jason was home with me; he watched Vi and gently coaxed me out of my hole. I finally broke out, thanks to him and switching to bottle feeding. I know not everyone will agree with me, but the only way i could bounce back was to rid my body of that hormone shift. Carli is doing very well on her formula, and is growing like a weed. And I am happy, and more importantly, out of bed.

We are now in Florida with my mom and dad. Jason has been offered a job here on the gulf, and it looks like Alaska will have to do without us. It is gorgeous here.

I'm back, baby.

PS: Vi loves being a big sister. No attempts on Carli's life yet. :)