Welcome to my less than perfect life!

Embracing the imperfections that make my life practically perfect in every way.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Heart Strings

Lately I've been feeling a second baby plucking at my heart strings.  I think every day about this new little life that I would like to have with me.  I must talk about it a lot, too, because yesterday The Nugget said, "No more questions about a baby!" when she thought I was asking her if she wanted a new baby.  I already know she does (because I have asked her eleventy billion times, obviously).  I just feel this new little life waiting for us to get it together already and can't help but bubbling over with excitement and talking about it.

We are scheduled to attend an adoption seminar on May 16th.  That just happens to be my birthday.  Not that I'm reading into it as being lucky or anything:)  Each day since we scheduled this, I have been anxiously awaiting May 16th and have hardly even realized that it is my birthday.  Instead, it feels like it has already been re-made into the day we took the first step toward bringing home our new child.

To be fair, we had already met with an adoption attorney.  They were just crazy expensive, so I am hopeful that the agency we are meeting with now will be at least a bit more affordable.  Adoption, overall, is not an affordable option (at least newborn adoption).  For us, though, it feels like the absolute right choice.  For all I know, our child could already be growing in his or her birth mommy's tummy!  It's overwhelming to think about!

Of course, there is trepidation.  What if we are matched and then the mother changes her mind?  What if nobody picks us because we already have a child of our own?  What if, what if, what if?  I suppose we could what if ourselves about everything forever.  I would like to trust that if we meet with disapointment on the path to finding our child, then that's all it ever was; one stepping stone on the path to finding OUR child.

For now, I feel almost as emotional and hormonal as I did when I was actually pregnant.  I tear up over every slightly emotional thing that happens.  I see babies and feel so overwhelmed with love and joy.  I just KNOW this is the path we are meant to take.

I know because that baby has been plucking at my heart strings.  I'm listening, little one.  We're coming.  We're coming.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Good Fences?

I took last Friday off of work.  Pretended I was rich and that my life was filled with nothing but me-time.  Drove an hour to an outlet mall and shopped in the sunshine.  Relaxed.  Listened to grown up music of my choosing while I drove.  Made it back in time to fit in grocery shopping while The Nugget was still at daycare.

In short, I spent last Friday in complete and utter bliss.

Until I checked the mail.  We had a letter from the Homeowner's Association.  I sifted it out of the pile because I knew it wasn't time for dues yet, so I wondered what it could be.  As it turns out, it was to notify us that one of our neighbors had filed a complaint about us.  Because we have too many weeds in our yard.  And if we don't take care of this then the HOA will hire someone to do it for us and then we will have to pay that fee and if we don't then we will have a lein put on our house.

Seriously?

The yard is mowed weekly by The Mister.  He really enjoys yard work and takes pride in keeping it neat.  He even mowes in a variety of patterns so that the lines show in our yard.  I have never mowed a day in our marriage and can count on one hand the number of times I have mowed the grass in my life.  If it were up to me, the grass would grow up to the windows.  But he takes care of me like that.

Anyway, yes, this Spring has been a particularly hearty one here in the Midwest and we seem to have been overcome with dandelions.  We had already put on an early Spring fertilizer and had, in fact, already purchased a late Spring fertilizer/dandelion killer to put on after another week or so when it had been enough time between applications.  Had our neighbor spoken to us about the matter, he or she would have known this.

Had our neighbor spoken to us about the matter, he or she might also have know that April is a really difficult month for our family.  That sometimes in April it is all I can do to try and keep breathing in and out.  That my one and only son was born and died four years ago in April.  That, no, the lawn is not the first thing or the fifth thing or the twenty-seventh thing on my mind, but it did make the list of shit we need to take care of at some point in our freaking lives.

What bothers me is not that these were false allegations.  I had a boat load of weeds in the yard, it's true.  But our home is not in a state of disrepair.  We have potted flowers on the front porch which are well watered and pretty.  There is no trash or unsightly junk in the yard.  We clean up the dog poop from the back yard (okay, The Mister does, but still).  We have a nice home.  The weeds represented a CHANGE from the norm, not an addition to it.  So it bothers me that the reporter didn't just stop over and say, "Hey, I noticed your yard could use a little help.  Is everything okay?"  Or even if they didn't want to go that far, maybe they could just have been direct and asked when we were going to take care of it.

I know, it's nobody's job to parent or police me.  I just would like to think we all could have a bit more compassion for one another.  If not compassion, at least some faith that we can and will do the right thing.

It's been a really disappointing experience for us to get this letter.  Both of us grew up in the country.  A dandelion was just part of the scenery.  Now we live in this middle class suburbian neighborhood that mandates that you use chemicals to keep lawns looking perfect.  Our neighbors are people who want our home to conform to their ideas or we will be on the outside.  Suddenly, our home doesn't feel as homey anymore.  I feel like if my dog barks at all or if a piece of trash blows into the yard an isn't immediately noticed and cleaned up then I will be reprimanded.  I feel like Big Brother is watching me.

I think given the level that this disturbed us both, we might just up and sell and move to the country if we weren't upside down on this house (thank you, housing market).  It just feels so gross to me and seems crystal clear all at once that, even though we love our house, maybe this is not the kind of place we want to raise our family.  My idea of having a family in a neighborhood like this was to have community, not a police state.

Am I over-reacting?  Maybe.  But this issue struck me to the core.  That stupid little letter seemed to put into question all of the values that we have and all of the values we are teaching our child.  Be helpful.  Be kind.  Give people the benefit of the doubt.  We don't always do it perfectly, but I think we do it better than that neighbor of ours.

Never fear, dear neighbor.  The dandelions have been sentenced to death.  The flower beds have been mulched.  Our stepford home is back in conformity.  But my defenses have locked into place with an almost audible "chink" of metal on metal.  My fence is up, like it or not.  I'm trying to pull at it, get it to come back down, keep my own values in the forefront.  But I'm not there yet.

If that old saying about good fences making good neighbors is true, I just became about the best one anyone could hope for.  For now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Top 5 Places to Eat with Kids

Hello, remember me?  I have this blog that I never write on anymore.  Sorry about that.  BUT.  I was inspired to write again.  I hope it will last but cannot promise you.  All I can promise is that I DO plan to keep it up over the course of years.  It may be in fits and starts, but there will at least be those.

Anyway, I was thinking about eating out with my kiddo.  She and I spend many evenings alone together since The Mister works evening shift.  While I love to cook, I also work full time and find it hard to get motivated to cook for just the two of us.  I often leave crock pot meals or casseroles for The Mister and The Nugget to eat at lunch time and then she and I will go out occasionally.  Of course, we also go out as a family sometimes.  And some places just do kids so much better than others.  Most everyone these days will do some crayons, but some do so much more.  So here is my list of places that are the best to eat with my kid.

5.  Red Robin
Yum! (You know you just sang that)  It has something for everyone with the wide variety of food choices.  There are lots of exciting thing for The Nugget to look at while we eat.  They offer plenty of healthy side items and your child gets a free balloon each time you go.  Also, their kids cups are sturdy enough to re-use.

4. Ruby Tuesday

Yet again, they will bring some treats pre-meal, like a small plate of biscuits. I would prefer something a bit healthier, but, again, it staves off the tantrum that comes from letting your child get over-hungry. Plus, bonus points for having an awesome salad bar with tons of healthy options for my litte one!

3.  The Cheesecake Factory
I know it's a bit pricey and the portions are way too enormous, but I calculate that into eating there and bring home enough for 1-2 additonal meals.  What I love about them is that they bring a little plate of bananas and bread to your child while you wait on your food.  AWESOME.  This helps out mom and dad when lack of planning has left us all starving and the littlest among us unable to cope.

2.  Tequila Sunrise
Okay, this one will only specifically relate to a small percentage of you.  This is our favorite local Mexican restaurant.  Our whole family loves Mexican food.  It's never too crowded and (the key here) it's local.  So we know most of the people who work there.  One of the waiters is good buddies with our daughter and it helps her work on her Spanish.

1.  Chik-fil-A
This one almost deserves it's own category.  It is as close to paradise for eating with children that I have ever encountered.  First, even though it is fast food, the servers will carry your food to the table for you.  When struggling to wrangle children, that is HUGE.  Second, every location has a play area that is glassed in so that you can easily see your child playing inside while you avoid the noise out at a table.  Third, your child can choose a toy or trade in the toy for an ice cream at the end of the meal.  Third, they have tons of healthy options even though it is fast food.  Fourth, while you watch your child play, the servers come around and refill your drinks if you like.  And when you thank them?  They answer, "MY PLEASURE."  Other fast food places I count myself lucky if they even talk to me enough to ask me what I want rather than just staring me down.  Fifth, local restaurants offer family nights once a week where there is a craft activity and then some other special activity (at ours it is sometimes a magician or a person making balloon animals).  It makes spending four bucks on dinner seems like a really big, special deal for the kiddo.  And, finally, once a month they offer a deal where you get a coupon in the amount of whatever you buy to spend again later that month.  You get the same amount of food FOR FREE.  I don't know how they do it, but they are head and shoulders above anyone else in the fast food business.  Oh oh oh...AND they have these lovely plastic mats that stick to the table for littler ones and make the mess so much easier to clean up and keeps their food as hygenic as possible.

So, those are my thoughts.  Any places I am missing out on?  Where do YOU love to take your kids to eat?