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Carrie Elle

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Once Upon a Time (my pledge to start recording memories so I can prove to my kids that I was cool...or not)

Once upon a was just me and Charles.  And Janga, Cricket, Dinah, Twinkie, Mo, Seamus, Norman, Donkey, Harry, Rocket and Lando.  Our fur children.  That's right...we had lots of four-legged fur kids.  Dogs, horses, cats and...donkeys.

And how I miss my donkeys.

The adventures we had when we first moved to Texas are something else.  In fact, people often tell me I needed to write a book about our experiences (I take this with a grain of salt since most of these people are relatives).  But it's true that we've had some amazing adventures (misadventures?).  And it's also true that we had a whole lotta animals (animals = all kinds of drama).

How many of you have had your poker guests have to leave because they were volunteer firefighters who received a call to impound a horse from a drunk guy riding down the road? How many of you have come home to a herd of buffalo in your front pasture?  How many of you have received an email saying you have unclaimed money from the State of Texas and it turned out to be LEGIT because you never cashed the check for $10 you won in a donkey show at the State Fair??  

These stories need to be told.  For my children and for every person even thinking about selling a little condo in Southern California and buying 15 acres of land in rural Texas on the same road as all of their husband's family (who's that dumb, right?!).  And also, for me - so I don't forget these things.  Already, the memory of pulling into my driveway after a long day at work (in Dallas, in an office) to find wild buffalo destroying my fences and terrorizing my horses as two strangers tried to load them into a trail is starting to fade.  


So, the next time I'm waxing nostalgic over the "good" old days, I'm going to take it a step farther (further?) and actually record said memory in my blog so I can one day show my kids and say, "SEE???  This really happened to your good ol' Mom and Dad.  We were invaded by buffalos / won $10 in a donkey show / called 911 on three separate occasions because there were loose cows in the street at night and we almost hit them / etc."  

I know the image is blurry, but I'm totally not lying about the donkey show.  

Oh, yeah.  I got more where that came from.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Domestication of Mrs. Lindsey (that would be me)

Claire is three months old.  My last day of work was July 1st.  That means I have been an official "Stay at Home Mom" for about 4 months now.

But to be's only in the last few weeks where I have really started to FEEL like a Stay at Home Mom.  As in, this is my JOB job is solely to take care of my children.  I do not have to report to anyone (well, that is sure feels like I am reporting someone and that someone is a very demanding toddler).  I do not have to get dressed in the morning.  I do not have to check my voicemails or respond to emails.

I do not get a paycheck.  No one tells me thank-you.

And I am okay with that, because really, I am not so sure I am good at this job.

Not yet, anyway.

I feel like I was really good at my "real" job.   I kept my nose to the grindstone and managed to squeeze a full-time position into about 25-30 hours of work a week.  I did my best to keep my clients happy and to exceed the expectations of my boss.

Try as I might, I am having a hard time applying these same principles to my "new" job.  No matter how hard I work, I am never able to get ahead.  The house is always messier than it should be, the last load of laundry lays on the closet floor and taunts me because I can never seem to get to it, and don't even get me started on the Toy Explosion that is Jack's room.  My clients and my boss are the same two little people and WOW, are their expectations high.  It seems like I am always using the wrong sippy cup or offering the wrong cheese ("NOOOOOO!!!!  I want CHEDDAR cheese, Mama!") or causing tantrums because I insist that the golf club not be swung near the baby.

And then, as I browse facebook or Printerest on my iPhone as I nurse the baby to sleep, I see all of these fabulous, crafts, clothing, elaborate parties...all put together by fellow SAHM's of young children.  And I think..."Well, if they can do it, why can't I?"

I have to be realistic here.  Although I was super-efficient at work, I am not super-efficient at home.  I consider it a battle won if both kids are dressed and I have changed out of my nursing bra and into a real bra by 10:00 AM.

Breakfast?  If Charles doesn't make it and we don't have frozen waffles, it's a bowl of dry cereal or a fiber brownie for Jack and whatever I can find for me.  Lunch and dinner?  Much of the same.  Quality time with Jack?  Not happening, unless Mickey Mouse Clubhouse counts as quality.  Clean house?  Rarely...most often, the house is in a state of just-cleaned-but-already-needs-to-be-cleaned-again.

Somehow, I manage to be home all day long and not get a damn thing done.

The last few days this has started to get to me a bit.  I miss using my brain the way I did in the office.  I miss adult conversations and being up on current affairs other than which Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode is newest.  I kind of even miss...spreadsheets.

I am so grateful (seriously...insanely grateful) that I have the opportunity to stay home with my babies. I just wish I was better at managing this precious time and using it to everyone's advantage - for myself, the kids, and Charles.

So, I can sit here and whine about how much slower my brain is these days and how impossible it to get things done...or, I can just do them already.

I have accepted my new assignment and I am on the path to domestication, folks.  In fact, I have already started.

Last week, a friend taught me how to cook something (go ahead, laugh, but this is a BIG. DEAL.).  This week?  I am going to actually try cooking it.

I decided I want to learn how to sew.  I am sick of always seeing cute little projects and thinking, "Wow, I wish I could sew!" So?  I called up my mom and asked her to teach me.  I now have the same sewing machine she learned on sitting next to our dining room table (a Singer sewing machine from about 1950 - they really, truly do not make things like they used to).  This may be putting the cart before the horse, but, I am going to make Christmas gifts for most everyone we know this year.  I will share my first completed project once it's done...but here's a picture of the first thing I actually sewed on this machine (after a little more practice, I dare say all those projects I wish I could make might actually be within reach):

I am going to start getting Jack involved in more projects and try to maybe even leave the house a few times each week with both kids.  Here is the one and only project I've actually made with Jack lately, and his "help" was really limited to letting me trace his hand once.  This is a creepy wreath made of hand prints from Jack and might have been not-so-creepy, but I think the baby hands and the little ribbons-that-look-like-wrists make it toe the line between cute and ooky (but since it's for Halloween, who cares, right??):

And one more thing (reaching for the stars, here!).  I am going to do my darndest to get out of these maternity shorts and sweat pants.  The better I feel and the more energy I have, the more likely I am to actually accomplish the above things.  And Lord knows I need all the help I can get if I am going to be a SAHM who actually does SAHM things like cooking and cleaning and entertaining the kids.

Wish me luck on this journey.  I will keep you posted.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

The 21st of October

Guess what?  Claire is THREE MONTHS OLD today!  Wow.  I've said it before, I will say it again, and I'll say it here now...time is absolutely flying by.  I swear it's going by faster with Baby #2.

On the 21st of every month I dress Claire in the same cute pink diaper and we do a little photo shoot.  Last month, I was inspired by Jill at Baby Rabies to take pictures throughout the day to document what a normal "day in the life" is like.  Well, I liked it so much that I have decided to do it every month on the 21st (because I hopefully won't forget on those days as we start the day off taking pictures!).

This month, I admit I was a little bored with my day.  I was hoping the 21st of October would coincide with some super fabulous trip to the pumpkin patch or an exciting trip to, I don't know, Target or something (if it's me, by myself, with both kids...I can guarantee you those are pictures you would want to see, HA!).  But, truth be told, today was pretty darn boring.  I didn't have anything exciting to document (and even if I did, I only had my phone with me today...not even the little digital camera, let alone the Big Camera Beast I am a little bit afraid of but that makes everything look way cooler than it really is).  I am putting this together thanks to my iPhone (with a little help from Instagram).

Boring or not, was a day filled with healthy and happy kids and for that, I am grateful.  So, let the fun begin!

9:00 AM

The picture is blurry but it still says a thousand words.  In a nutshell, this is what I get to wake up to each morning!  Claire sleeps the first part of the night in her bed, and I bring her to bed once she wakes up.  Then I see this smiling face in the morning.  And even better...this morning she slept in until 9:00 and even better than did Jack.

10:00 AM

Breakfast of champions.  Pancakes (Jack calls them "pan-a-cakes") and hash browns from McDonald's. But the juice is organic!  From Central Market! That makes it ok, right??  Hehe...

11:00 AM

This is my third attempt to convince Claire she really wanted to take a snooze in the swing.  She really didn't think she wanted a nap at all, thankyouverymuch.  Charles finally talked her into taking a quick snooze.  While he did that, I enjoyed another very large glass of tea.

12:00 PM

Claire's nap is over (she did sleep for 40 whole minutes though, so I am not one to complain!) and we all know Jack isn't going to nap (sigh) so we are watching "Up" on the couch.  If you have not seen "Up" before...please see it.  I am confident in this recommendation (unlike the time I recommended Kill Bill to someone who weeks later told me she went to see Kill Bill because someone had recommended it and she hated it so much she walked out of the theater...and no joke, she didn't remember I was the one who recommended it so I didn't say anything...HA!).  Seriously...this movie is amazing.  It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it makes me grateful for what I have and it inspires me...and Jack loves it, too.  This particular part of the movie is extra great.  Dug, the dog, had just said to grumpy old Mr. Frederickson, "I have just met you and I love you."  LOVE this.

1:00 PM

The first picture?  A few cloth diapers I just hung outside (the sun removes stains better than any stain remover could).  The second picture?  Nursing baby in my lap.  This picture is kind of tripping me out...the hand next to Claire's side and leg is *my* kind of looks like she has a giant hand or something...!

2:00 PM

I am going crazy being inside the house, so while Charles tries to convince Jack to take a snooze on the couch (HAHAHAHA) I take Claire for a stroll.  There were more turtles on that log, but I was too loud walking around the corner and a bunch jumped off before I could take their picture.  And the squirrel...well, he is clearly challenging me to mess with him and make him move!

3:00 PM

Playing on the floor with both kiddos.  Well, mostly protecting Claire from projectile tow trucks.  But guess what else happened during floor time?  Claire ROLLED OVER.  From her back to her tummy.  Twice.  By herself.  Jack was four and a half months old before he even attempted this.  Claire has been working on it for about three weeks now, and today she succeeded.  And as soon as she gets on her tummy, what does she do?  Starts kicking her little legs and moving her little arms around...this kid wants to move.  Jack didn't crawl until he was ten months old.  I am thinking this is going to be a whole different ballgame!

4:00 PM

Ummm...anyone want to help me put some laundry away?  There's plenty to go around...

5:00 PM

We go for another walk, and this time Jack, Charles and Janga come with us.  And this time, I make sure everyone is quiet so I can sneak up on the turtles and get this picture.

6:00 PM

We are going to the neighbor's house for dinner so I make Jack lay on the floor so I can change his diaper.  The diaper has been changed and he is pushing the limits here by putting his feet on the baby.  Over and over and over again...I just gave him my "serious" voice and he's debating about how serious I really am (for what it's worth, it worked...foot was removed!).

8:00 PM

Claire is ready for bed at 8:00, so I bring her home and give her a bath (she sure doesn't look very tired in this picture, does she?).  

It's now 1:00 AM and I guess all that tea is taking it's toll, because I'm not tired.  However...the baby monitor is blinking and I imagine Claire will be waking up sooner rather than later.  

And with's off to bed I go.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

My Kids Don't Nap

A couple of years ago I wrote this post about sleep.  Jack was 11 months old and I was trying to put a positive spin on the whole terrible-sleeper-who-does-not-even-kind-of-come-close-to-sleeping-through-the-night thing.  Of course, when I wrote it there was a little part of me deep inside that thought, "this isn't going to last forever, I'm sure he'll be sleeping through the night by the time he's a two-year-old!"  

Well let me just fast forward almost two years from that post and tell you this...the kid still isn't a "good" sleeper.  His second birthday came and went, and although by that age I was usually able to get a few hours of "me" time after putting him down, I never did get a full night's sleep.  Up until the day Claire was born, I was up with him at least once a night (granted, most nights he would just climb into bed with me...but there were some real doozies involving growing pains, tummy trouble, etc.).  Charles would help...I was not alone...but it was still trying.

Once Claire was born, I shifted to nighttime newborn duty and Charles took over nighttime toddler duty.  And guess what? 

Jack is STILL up at least once a night.  He'll be three in six weeks.  

But I write this not to whine about how "terrible" of a sleeper Jack is...oh, no.  Compared to the early days, one to two waking a night is a piece of cake. 

And the baby?  I would not dare complain about her nighttime sleep habits.  She is (no pun intended!) a dream.  Truly.  I mean, she is in bed right now...her own I write this!  And has been for over two hours!  How could I complain about that?  

I would just like to take this time to say this: 

Mom, I am sorry I did not nap as a child.  It is my only regret as a baby.  My children are making sure that I pay the price.  

That's right.  My kids won't nap.

Jack is not even three yet, and he has, for the most part, left his napping days behind.  He gets grumpy, he gets tired, and I feel he still needs his nap...but there's no telling him that.  If I could make him sleep, I would...but I can't.  He has fallen asleep a few times late in the evening...once on the wood floors, his pennies (which he calls "coinies") in hand, and another time in his highchair, half of a chicken nugget in his greasy little palm.  Unfortunately, no nap doesn't equate to an early bedtime, either.  Tonight he made it up to 10:00 PM (it was movie night, three cheers for Toy Story 2!).  

A side note: Charles took over baby duty so I could put Jack down...and OMG is there anything sweeter than your little two-year-old saying "I love you soooooo much mommy, don't leave!" as you lay in bed next to him?  I think not.

But here's the thing.  Claire doesn't want to nap either!  

My mom told me that I never napped as a baby.  She would put me in the car and drive around just to get a break because that's the only time I would sleep. I would sleep for twenty minutes and wake up...wide awake...ready to play.

Claire is twelve weeks old...and she will pretty much only sleep on me, in the Ergo.  She will occasionally sleep in her bed...for twenty minutes at the most.  She will sleep in her swing...again, for twenty minutes.  She rarely nurses to sleep, except for bedtime.  Today, she slept for about 30 minutes in the car on the way to the Arboretum, about 10 minutes on the way home, and about 20 minutes on me as I watched "Up" with Jack.  She then napped another 20 minutes or so right before bath time.  

I spend all day feeding/cleaning/entertaining someone (for a few short weeks, I had a blissful break when Jack would nap and Claire would fall asleep on me while I caught up on trashy TV...those days have, sadly, ended).  24/7, I am on duty. 

I am not complaining about this.  It could be a lot worse - Jack is an engaging companion, and Claire is a joy.  But I am wondering...WHAT THE HECK DID I DO ALL DAY BEFORE I HAD KIDS??  And why didn't I, like, save the planet, or end world hunger, or just do something great with all of my free time??  

Because you should see what I can do now when I have 20 free minutes...there's nothing quite like kids who don't nap to teach you some serious time management skills.  

And because I want to remember that Claire does occasionally take a little is a picture of me and Jack on the couch watching "Up" while Claire sleeps.  

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sometimes You Need What You Thought You Didn't Want (how's that for insightful)

So, about three months ago I was very pregnant and trying to get out of a scorpion-infested house and into a new house before the baby was born.

Our house hadn't sold, we didn't have a new house picked out, and I wasn't getting any less pregnant.

I blame it on hormones now (what reasonable person would be this psycho?), but at the time my head could not wrap itself around the possibility that I might be having the baby while living in that house and there might not be a damn thing I could do about it.  

I was convinced (CONVINCED!) that we would be moving before the baby was born and I would not have to move with a newborn and a toddler who was just dipping his chubby little toddler toes into the waters of the Terrible Twos (he has since fully submerged).  Nope.  It was Not. Going. To Happen.

Ha!  Ha. Ha. Ha.

I told anyone who would listen that the baby was going to wait until we moved and that her first house would be our new house.  This I told as our house went under contract after six months on the market, fell out of escrow a month before my due date, went back into contract with another buyer and then all forward moving progress came to a screeching halt as all of our small town banks, surveyors, appraisers and title offices tried to coordinate things like how send emails of pictures of the house taken with a 12-year-old digital camera that required floppy discs and how to deliver documents from one department of the bank to another department that was IN THE SAME BUILDING but required someone to get out of their chair and actually walk it to someone on another floor.   

So you see, I was thinking positively.  Or more accurately, I was in complete and total denial.

But then one day I left denial behind.  And I cried.  And cried.  And realized that I likely *was* going to have this baby while we were in that house.  

Once I came to grips with this (and literally, one day I just woke up and had accepted my fate), I felt the weight lift off of my shoulders.  I felt calmer, more accepting and receptive to the daily setbacks, and ready for the baby to make her appearance.

We set up everything we'd need for her at home (I had most of it packed up because, you know, we were moving and she was going to be born after we moved, right??) and I literally kicked my feet up and caught up on Toddlers & Tiaras and Real Housewives of Orange County.  

The baby came, and guess what?  

I was So. Freaking. Happy to be in that house.

When it was time to go to the Birthing Center, I called my mom and she drove right over to stay with Jack.  Although he was living in what looked like a UPS shipping center, Jack was at a home he was familiar with (as if having a new baby sister wasn't a big enough change).  The next day, my Mother-in-Law came over and took Jack.  My mom and my MIL both kept food coming and entertained Jack while Charles continued with packing and making arrangements for the big move.  My mom would hold Claire while I showered.  We could take the kids just down the road to spend time with their 95-year-old great grandmother who might not have met Claire for weeks if we were in our new house (because who wants to pack up a little baby and toddler and drive over an hour if you don't have to - not me!). When Jack had to go to the ER the day after Claire was born to have his tummy x-rayed (he's fine, and that day is another story altogether), my MIL was able to go with Charles and help with Jack. Did I mention we had lots of help with Jack?

The week before our move there were a lot of loose ends to be tied up and Charles was extremely busy with everything.  With all of the help we had just down the road, I was able to concentrate on the new baby and rest.

When Claire was 6 days old, we moved (and for the record, moving day was a lot more exhausting than the day she was born).  Charles drove and I sat in the back with Claire.  Jack was with my mom; they were coming up later, after the movers had unloaded everything.  Charles and I were talking about everything that had been happening and we were musing over the fact that not only had everything turned out fine, but also that it worked out really, really well to be in the in that house those first few days.  The help from our moms was amazing.  In my head, I hadn't wanted it, didn't need it, would be fine without it.  In reality, it turned out to be a godsend.  

It was during this drive (which took forever, as we were in evening traffic and had to pull over once so I could nurse the baby) when I had one of those "Aha!" light bulb moments.  I realized that what I needed turned out to be exactly what I thought I didn't want.  

Another of life's lessons...learned.  

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Chubby Baby in a Watermelon Hat

Just because she is so damn is a picture of Baby Claire from this morning:


Why I Blog (And Why You Should, Too)

I originally started blogging because my friend Jesika convinced me to give it a try.

I admit it.  I thought it was totally lame.  Kind of like when I first learned about digital cameras, I just didn't get the point.  See, when I first saw a digital camera (at Carrow's in Orange, CA, and this also relates to Jesika because it was her friend that showed it to me) I just didn't get it.  What was the point of having all of those pictures stored in a camera and who cares if you could delete them?  I didn't realize that there was (or would be, this was back in the day...probably 1998) the capability to print them.  I just saw it as a way to take pictures and look at them on a computer (I was barely getting into email back in '98, people!).

Once I realized, several years later, how AWESOME digital cameras were, I was quick to toss the old school camera and never look back.

But back to blogging.

When Jesika told me I should have a blog I thought, "Wow, that's really lame...I am not an angst-ridden emo-listening teen with dark eyeliner, I am an adult who does not need a Web Log.  What moron would publish their diary on the INTERNET??"

As it turned out, I was missing the point and the scope of blogging.  It's not just about putting yourself out there and having random strangers feel sorry for you.  Shocking, right?!  Ha!

I like to write and so I finally caved.  Here is my First Blog Post.  Wow, when I was inserting that link I realized that was almost exactly four years ago today!  I learned that blogging was kind of fun, and it was even more fun to read other people's blogs.  I was surprised to learn that people blog about everything...their personal cause, kids, parenting, horses, and of course everything else under the sun.  And this led me to learn that there is a whole blogging community...and then I realized that blogging is actually relevant to *me* and not just for teenagers.  Sometimes I am a bit slow on the uptake.

But here is why I just recently (as in, the last couple of weeks) decided to take my blog seriously.  It is not only my story, but the story of my family.  Although I am famous in my little ring of friends for my ridiculous memory, I sill forget things.  My blog lets me capture those thoughts and then...they are there forever.

For example, I definitely would not remember that I actually thought having a baby would be easier than being pregnant if I hadn't written this little post.  Yeah, that one makes me laugh.  I might not remember the time it took me four hours to get out of the house when Jack was a baby if I hadn't written this.

You get the idea (oh, and the reason I abandoned that blog and started a new one is because my family found the old one and it was annoying to have to talk about it at family dinners - who knew the internet was, you know, public...ha!).

Someday my kids will be able to look at this and say, "Mom lived in a house infested with scorpions?" etc etc...

But also, this has been a great way for me to gain some perspective.  I guess it's not unlike a paper journal...the kind you actually write in, with a pen and all (which I kept religiously as a teenager but would hate to get back into hand cramped up the other day after filling out a form at the doctor's office).  But it's easier than keeping a "real" journal.  I can type faster than I can write, and I can easily browse old entries that make me realize how much things have, or have not, changed, or how silly it was to worry about something that at the time seemed like the end of the world but that turned out to be...nothing.

It was one such browsing experience that prompted this post.

I was looking through some "old" entries and I found this post, written when I was six months pregnant and living in the Scorpion Ranch (six whole months ago).  Here is the specific paragraph that I can't stop thinking about:

For one thing, the house has not sold yet.  This puts a damper in my pre-conceived images of life after baby.  We are all supposed to be moved into some cozy little house in a nice town with a Target and a Kohl's and a Chick-fil-A.  Jack will have his own room, right next to our room, where I don't need to worry about him getting stolen or trapped in a fire (yes, those are legitimate concerns I have and one of the reasons I don't want to even think about transitioning him to "his" room - which is all the way across the house).  We will have our nice King size bed back together again, as in actually lifted off the ground and with a headboard, and Baby Girl will sleep peacefully in her Arms Reach co-sleeper next to our bed.  We will have a teeny little yard that Jack can play in and a bathtub that doesn't rival a jacuzzi or a shower in a cruise ship (we currently have both).  I will put Jack in the stroller and the baby in the Ergo and walk to the park in the mornings.  It will be perfect!

Guess what?

We are in a cozy little house with Target, Chick-Fil-A and Kohl's down the road.  Jack has his own room, and while it's not next to our room, we have an alarm that beeps when any door or window is opened so I feel safe with him in it (not to mention the pit bull who lives with us and is on guard 24/7).  Our nice big bed IS off the ground with the headboard attached and Baby Girl DOES sleep in her co-sleeper for a portion of the night.  We have a teeny, tiny little yard that Jack plays in and our bathtubs are all normal-sized bathtubs.  And,  I put Claire in the Ergo every morning and put Jack in the stroller and we go for a nice walk on the nice walking trails we have access to.

Literally, everything I wanted...we got.  Without my blog, I would remember the stress and uncertainty of selling our old house, for sure, but I don't think I would have remembered exactly what I wanted.  And if I couldn't remember exactly what I wanted, how could I ever know and appreciate it when I got exactly what I wanted?

My mom and Charles were both right when they told me it would all work out in the end.  They were more than right.  It did work out, and I am grateful to them for their words of wisdom.  

And now for my words of wisdom (to the non-bloggers/journal-keepers): Start a blog.  If you already have one, keep up with it.  Or, if your hand is in good shape, get all old-school and write in an actual journal with real paper and pen.  You can thank me later.  ;)

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