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I’m in a deep funk lately.  Not sure exactly what caused the funk, but I believe it stems from a series of the following events:

- Hubby went out of town (i.e. chaoes)

- then I went out of town (i.e. more chaos)

- my out-of-townness was to attend the Hearts at Home conference (basically a conference for moms – yeah, I didn’t know these existed either)

- at the conference, I started a series of thoughts that have lead to an all-out existential crisis of who am I, what do I believe, do I even know what the fuck I’m doing anymore, etc., etc.

(don’t get me wrong, the conference was a wonderful, wonderful experience, and very thought-provoking.  Maybe too thought-provoking, which is why the crisis occured).

- I got sick, and am still sick, although now I think it’s just nasty allergies, which means I will miserable until, oh, July.

- because of said events, the house is a mess, and I can’t ignore it.

- I took a job adjuncting this fall at hubby’s community college, and the thought of going back to work (even if it’s only for this one class one night a week) terrifies me.  The thought of once again balancing two working parents terrifies me. The thought of lesson planning terrifies me.

- I re-did our budget tonight and realized that I probably do need to work at least sometimes, and that we’re still broke.  The thought that I almost didn’t take the class terrifies me.

I think that last one put the nail in the coffin.  Do not, repeat, do not attempt to budget while in a funk.  No budgeting while funking.

So I’m not really sure what the point of telling the blogosphere all this is.  I’m not going to know talk about how wonderful my life really is, and how blessed I am, and how the funk is just a journey.  You know all that already.  I know know all that already.  I don’t need to go down that road.  I just want to bitch and complain about the general state of things, thank you very much.  I think the funk is starting to subside somewhat, though.  I mean, I actually did the dishes AND showered tonight.

And to top it all off, Frankie ripped the backspace button off my laptop, and now I have to push on the little nubbin every time I make a typing error, and in doing so, I’ve realized that I’m really not as good a typist as I thought I was.  Leave it to toddlers to humble us all.

Two ways that my husband proved we are soul mates today:

1) He is currently in Washington, D.C., on a student trip for spring break (lucky!), and today he told me that they were going to the Holocaust Museum.  Being a total history nerd, especially for WWII history, I was quite jealous.  (I also realized after I hung up that I told him to “have fun” at the Holocaust Museum.  Which was not the best thing to say.  Perhaps I should say “have a day of reflection, depression, and resolve?”).

Anyways, later he called me and told me that I got a gift from the Holocaust Museum – two books on the Holocaust (one on consciousness and how people were able to convert to Nazism and group think so easily, and another on Nazi propaganda).  He said he felt bad that I wasn’t able to come with.

And then I realized that my husband bought me two academic books on topics that he knew I would like from a museum of genocide.  He knows me so well.  I heart him.

2) He called me this evening while I was nursing Frankie and when I answered the phone, I told him to shush because I was watching Diane Sawyer’s report on the disgusting pink slime inside ground beef.  And then he told me that not only is he watching the same thing, but that he was calling to tell me about it.  Sigh.

Is it possible for love and marriage to be based on activist and research?  Cause I think ours is.

He was actually calling to tell me not to buy any beef except organic, grass-fed beef.  The report was eye opening.  I’ve heard of such things before, and knew that most processed meat was not good, but my lack of funding forced me to buy the cheaper stuff.  Lately, I’ve been revisiting some of the literature and research on food that I’ve read before, and I really want to detoxify our lives.  And beef is definitely a great place to start.

Pink slime is basically this nasty crap leftover after processing beef that the FDA says is OK to eat.  The stuff that used to get thrown out is now processed, washed with ammonia (!), and then frozen into chunks and added as filler to beef.  And, according to the report, there’s no way to tell what has this filler and what doesn’t – over 70% does and we don’t know it.

What’s more disturbing is that several scientists working for the FDA told them that pink slime is not safe, but the FDA (in cahoots with the beef industry) ignored them.  As my hubby pointed out, according to this logic, what’s the point of having science and research at all?  Let’s just go back to using leaches and witch burnings as a means of curing disease, and assuming the world is flat.  Why bother with things with logic and reason?  Let’s have the corporations decide!

Luckily for us, I’ve found a local beef provider at our local organic food store (Food Fantasies) that costs $5.99/lb.  Yes, this is more than our $3.99/lb on average Meijer beef, but it’s local, grass-fed, and organic.  And seriously, I’ll pay $3 a week extra to avoid the slime.  However, I’m starting to rethink my monthly craving of a cheeseburger, and what about meat sauce in pasta?  And my occasional Taco Bell?  I’m not even sure Taco Bell contains actual meat!  Will this make me a vegetarian when I eat out?  Or will my treats become even more spaced out?  Dude, sometimes knowledge is not a good thing, because I love me some Taco Bell crunchy tacos.

Here’s the video.  Watch it with someone you love.

Pink Slime

Dear Hubby,

You put up with me.  Oh, how you put up with me.  And I put up with you.  Boy, do I ever.  Our marriage is full of so many ups and downs.  We go from laughing to fighting to crying (well, mostly me crying) to making up and then laughing again.   It’s quite passionate, in a suburban married couple sort of way.

You share my thoughts, my dreams, and my son.  And you still make me happy.  Even though you really, really, really piss me off sometimes.  And I really, really, really piss you off sometimes too.  But it’s all ok in the end.  Because we’re in for the long haul. 

I’m happy I found you.  And that you found me.  And that we’re still here.  And you still make me smile.

Love, Mary

We had a super-quick weekend trip back up to Chicago to visit family – namely, to celebrate my grandfather’s and my brother-in-law’s birthdays.  We stayed at my parent’s house on Friday night, where Frankie chased my dad all over the house and laughed hysterically at my mom opening and closing the sliding door to the laundry room.  Ah, to be young.

We had a nice visit with my grandpa, who is actually doing quite well at 92, albeit slow and forgetful.  He kept asking us about his CD player, which just needed batteries, but poor Grandpa can’t quite remember things that you told him 5 minutes before. :(  Although, ask him about events and people from the 1930s, and you’ll find a goldmine.

I then took Frankie to the mall.  The mall!  Oh, how I have missed you.  Sure, Springfield has this building that is supposed to be a mall, and is called such, but really, compared to the mecca that is Woodfield Mall, home of my teenage years and at least 5 different retail jobs, is it really a mall?  I had to return the Toms shoes for Frankie that my sister-in-law bought him, just to get a different size, and seriously, is there anything cuter than Toms shoes for kids?  I think not.  I also bought enough Body Shop deodorants to last me the next year.  You’re welcome, pits.

We then packed up Frankie and went to my mother-in-law’s for Tony’s brother’s birthday party (I told it was a whirlwind).  We had a great time, but poor Frankie showed how much he doesn’t like crowds.  And dogs.  There really wasn’t that many people (just immediate family), but he was pretty clingy and wanted to breastfeed A TON, to the point that by the next morning, I was physically drained and depleted.  And the singing of “Happy Birthday” was literally traumatizing for him.  We kept him in the next room over, but he cried throughout the singing, and when everyone cheered and clapped at the end, his face was one of utter terror.  He was so upset that we put his Elmo video on for him in the family room, and he stood there shaking – literally shaking – while watching.  I felt so bad for the little guy!

Here’s some of the downfalls of having a super-sensitive kid.  You never know what’s going to set them off and scare them to death.  You have to be super vigilant to their emotional needs, and put your own needs aside (isn’t that every parent, though?).  They are not independent creatures.  And, the thing I find the most frustrating is that few people get to see the awesome, lovable, caring, funny kid that he is.  Once he “accepts” you and has some one-on-one time with a person, you’re good.  But in groups and with people he’s not comfortable with, he’s a different kid – sullen, withdrawn, anxious, and shy.

Now I know that I’m not the only person with a shy kid – hell, I WAS a shy kid, and clung to my father during such traumatic events like family get-togethers, family friends coming over, and the dreaded Omnimax movie at the Museum of Science and Industry.  So I’m really sensitive to his sensitivities, but can I just get a little sympathy over here?  Can I bemoan to the world that it’s difficult to NOT have a carefree, extroverted child, the kind of child that Americans seem to prefer?

Enough complaining.  I love you just as you are Frankie, and I hope you cling to me and cuddle as much as humanly possible, because I know one day you won’t.  And maybe, maybe, when you’re older and still feeling overwhelmed and anxious and shaky, maybe you’ll remember how much Mommy loves you and even if you won’t or can’t cuddle with me then, you’ll remember when we did.

Lately, I’ve been feeling stuck in the house.  That’s probably because I am literally stuck in the house.  Before we moved to Springfield, we got rid of our second car for a variety of reasons.  It was getting older; it didn’t easily fit a car seat, so we never took Frankie out in it; our new apartment only has one parking space; with me staying home, a second car wasn’t a necessity; and – the biggie – we wanted to save money.

Now, I agree with all of the statements above.  Heck, I think I even argued for those statements above.  But fast forward 6 months later, and I’m stuck in the house in the middle of winter and longing to walk around the mall or Target or the library or any place other than my living room.  Yup, I’m that stay-at-home mom. 

(I just realized that the savings with just one car extend beyond just insurance and gas; add my incessant Target shopping habit.  Why is it that you can enter Target for one thing and then leave with $100 worth of stuff you don’t need?  Target is a marketing genius: make everything just cheap enough and just stylish enough that it leaves the customer begging for more.  Oh Target, you devilish big box store, you).

Having just one car is probably one of the most eco-friendly things we can do as a family, however, and I do have to say that, despite the suckage aspect, I am proud of our decision.  Here’s a few tips I’ve come up with for others who are thinking of ditching the second car:

  • Plan, plan, plan ahead.  It’s not like I never get the car; but during the week, I have to drive hubby to work and pick him up in order to get it.  Right now, he’s schedule on Wednesdays and Thursdays doesn’t allow for it (he’s teaching day and night classes, so I would have to pick him up after Frankie’s bedtime, which wouldn’t make anyone in this family happy).  But I have way more access to the car on other days, and luckily he won’t be teaching at night every semester.  But these things need to be planned.  For instance, on the Tuesdays that I go to MOPS, I have to make sure that all 3 of us are up, dressed, feed, and ready to go by 8:30 am at the latest, and I need to make sure that I pick up hubby at the magical time of after nap time/before dinner/during rush hour and allow enough time to get home and make dinner before my two boys become ravenous beasts.  Just writing all that out exhausted me.
  • Do your errands all together.  To save time and gas, I try to make one day “errand day” (minus grocery day, which is Monday morning and takes forever – don’t ask). 
  • Order stuff online.  If you can’t get to Target, then bring Target to your living room!  Or Amazon!  Or any number of wonderful free shipping websites!  Don’t you just love exclamation points!  Sometimes things can be cheaper online – I order our disposable diapers (used for traveling and poo-related emergencies – again, don’t ask) through Amazon mom, and not only are they cheaper, they literally arrive in less than 24 hours. 
  • Live in a convenient location.  Hubby and I talk about this all the time.  Chalk it up to the few years we lived in the city, but we like to walk to stores and activities.  It’s a novel concept in the suburbs, but it really shouldn’t be.  Right now, we live within walking distance of a few places, such as restaurants, a video store, a bowling alley (not exactly baby friendly, but we plan to check it out someday), a park, and, if you go a little further, a couple of stores.  I’ve even walked to drop off our rent check.  Most subdivisions and suburbs are set up so you CAN’T walk anywhere, but if you plan it right, you can live within walking distance to the library, schools, and other locations.
  • Buy a bike.  OK, I have a confession to make: I am quite possibly the only eco-friendly person out there who doesn’t own a bike.  Forgive me Greenpeace, for I have sinned.  We’ve just been too broke to consider the purchase in the past.  But now that I’m sans second car, it’s looking more and more attractive. 
  • Take the bus.  Easier said than done in some areas, but here in Springfield, there’s a bus that goes down our street every day, all day.  I haven’t mustered up the courage yet to try it out, mostly because I’m afraid of how it’ll go with a two year old.  But one of these days, I’ll force hubby to take a ride for me and figure things out.  It might just be my ticket of stay-at-home boredom.

Of course, this is a huge sacrifice on our parts, and I will admit, it sucks.  A lot sometimes.  Like the time a bunch of my friends got together at the park and invited me and I had to say no because Tony was in Chicago at the time with the car?  Yeah, that day sucked.  But then I remember the money we’re saving, coupled with the fact that we actually can’t afford another car right now, nor do we need one, and I move on.  You can always come visit me, right?  Right?  Guys?

Yup, you read that right.  I’m homeschooling Frankie!

Frankie’s reaction to his mommy being his one and only teacher

(Actually, his reaction to Christmas.  Tis the season).

Ok, not really, but I’m calling that in my world, at least for the time being.  The reasons?  First, let me say that ALL parents homeschool in some way, especially before they enter kindergarden and first grade.  I’m fairly open-minded about homeschooling in general; I myself was homeschooled for high school (although the thought of homeschooling younger kids scares the crap out of me).  Seriously, am I the only educator who feels more comfortable with adults?  Anyways, since I’m a stay-at-mom currently, I’ve been thinking about all the things a non-daycare, non-preschool attending child needs, like a schedule and structure – in other words, I need to get my act together and start educ-macating my baby!

Two, we have been seeing our therapists through Early Intervention (developmental, speech, and occupational), and I have some GREAT ideas from there for things to work on with Frankie during the week.  I love our therapists, and Frankie is making great progress.  But I need to make sure he has “school” time everyday in order for the therapy to really work.

Three, have I mentioned that I’m anal retentive ?  I thrive on lists and schedules.  Why not with my son?  Sometimes, half way through the day, I feel like saying out loud, “Now what?”  Then I have to tell myself, “Wait, you’re the mommy.  You make the decisions.”  And then I respond with, “But I don’t have any ideas.”  This is basically what happens to me without structure.  I don’t think I’m OCD because I like it; it’s more out of necessity.  Without structures, lists, or schedules, I literally sit around, procrastinate, and do nothing.  Am I alone in this one?

I’ve been doing some digging around and here’s a few good ideas websites that I found with homeschooling the wee little guys (you can also find all of these on my Pinterest account):

Pouring pasta (a lot of Montessori teachings are based on learning life-long skills, like pouring, cutting, preparing food, etc.  This would be a great place to start)

Water Tables – here’s a link to make your own, but I’m keeping an eye out for a used one

This blog has lots of great ideas for making busy toys for little ones

Here’s a collection of materials and activities that promote fine motor skills

Letter of the Week is a great site that gives a curriculum for babies and toddlers, divided up by monthly age.  For one year olds, they offer the Brightly Beaming Toddler curriculum.  It’s biblical based, and gives a song, poem, book, activity, etc. to do each week. 

Great list of what to do with a toddler if you’re out of ideas (which happens to me ALL THE TIME).

I’ve also pinned some older preschool curricula for the future (yes, the plural is curricula.  I minored in Latin.  And don’t tell me that in English, you ignore Latin grammar rules.  Because it sounds weird and I don’t like it.  So there).  I really don’t know where Frankie will go to school.  Some days, I think that homeschooling would be awesome, and I would be an awesome teacher, and everything would be awesome.  Other days, I think, who am I kidding, do I really want to do this?  Could I even do this?  And on rare days, I think, I need this child to get out of the house!  As much as I love you Frankie….

So I have a lot of work to do, organizing and prepping and making stuff to do.  Ahh, heaven.

 

Being green means being a little too serious sometimes.  Case in point: whenever I start to go off on a rant in front of my parents, explaining to them that Portillo’s needs to not use styrofoam containers, that parabens in their shampoo are slowly destroying their bodies, and that the no-sugar yogurt they bought is Satan, they usually look at me and say sternly, “Hey Greenpeace!  Lighten up!”

In the spirit of laughing at ourselves, here’s Sh*t Crunchy Moms Say (done in the spirit of Sh*t Girls Say – if you haven’t seen that video, please do yourself a favor and Google it now.  Yes, I used Google as a verb.  You’re welcome).

I think I’ve said about half of the saying on the video, especially the one about coconut oil.  Why is coconut oil so difficult to find?  And complaining about “Big Pharma?”  Love it.

By the way, when I told hubby about the video, his response was, “Crunchy?  What do you mean by crunchy?”  And I had to explain to him that some people refer to natural/green/holistic people as “crunchy,” which I think refers to a love for granola.  His response to that?  “Oh.  I guess so.”  Which also made me laugh.

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