Archive for the ‘Misfit Mom’ Category

There was a whole big long entry here that must’ve been eaten.  That really sucks.

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One of my assignments for this week was to write a one-scene continuation of the Glass Menagerie.  It ended up with a happy ending.  I gave a happy ending to Tennessee Williams.  This is a clear indicator that I have reached pessimism overload.  It didn’t start out happy but that’s sure as hell where it ended up.  WTF?  I am so not a happy ending sort of person.


As I was waiting for my yearly exam with my midwife, standing in the gown rewriting my history midterm essay on the counter next to the swabs and speculum, I realized that I may have gotten myself in over my head every-so-slightly this semester.  Four classes is definitely too many.  Or more specifically, four classes and two children is too many.  It’ll be ok and I’ll make it through–this isn’t one of those angsty freakouts–but in the future I must remember that school is a lot of work, kids are a lot of work, and the two together are massive.  Fun, but massive.


Sprouts are still sprouting.  Flowers blooming.  Geranium plant has taken over the entire window-area and needs desperately to be repotted.  Next week, if all goes well, I’ll be planting my pickling cukes, nasturtium and marigolds.  How’s that for Spring Break?  Don’t worry, I’ll flash my tits at the worms or something.


Late to the party as always, I just discovered both Regina Spektor and Feist.  Is there anyone else I should be listening to?  I’m trying to listen to mostly women artists for a while so I’m back in the Ani-Indigo Girls-Etta James groove but am always looking for more.  I feel a playlist coming on as soon as I get through midterms.

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Mmmmmmm.  C sauteed ours up in oil and merlot vinegar with red pepper and garlic, and they were delicious.

Lucy and I had a nice walk to the CSA pick up, and she has expressed interest in trying new foods again like we did last year with the farm share.  I don’t know if I can get her to try chard though.  She doesn’t do cooked veg except for a newfound love of steamed broccoli.

Otherwise, we are getting ready for a night out tomorrow for C and I,  followed by a weekend at Grandma’s for the kids and I.  Daddy gets to have a nice break from the rabble while I get to lounge beside a pool.  Fair trade, I think.  Of course, I’m going to need it by the time it rolls around because it’s packing time again, and this time I have another wee one to contend with.  I’ve gotten less ritualized about packing since we stopped flying, but I still have to have a good list going to get anything done, and my list is barely begun.  There is swimwear to handwash (I think I’ll introduce Lucy to No Impact Man’s bathtub stomp method to which I cannot find a direct link but it’s there somewhere and you should be reading his blog anyway.)  There is an apartment to ready to be cleaned (which is a gift from the gods this week, I swear.)  There is a me to ready for the dinner (I ordered a swanky new nursing dress so that I can nurse Chico right before I run out the door and as soon as I run back in because I’m not sure if he’s going to do a bottle but I haven’t tried it on.  Or pumped, for that matter.)  I threw out all of my makeup except for powder and lipstick so the temptation to get uber-made up will not be there.  My hair is such a mess that I can only pull it into a bun or leave it down.   I cannot wear shoes with a closed toe so I will be rocking my Birkenstocks, which is tacky but easier than trying to walk in the surgical shoe and a heel.  I refuse to buy new shoes, especially open-toe ones which I hate with a passion.  Am hoping nobody will be looking at my feet anyway.  All in all, it may very well be an occasion wherein I leave the house looking like a total mess.  Meh.  And, in between all that, we have laundry to do to take with us, a ton of greens to eat before we go, and Lucy has somewhere between 5 and 10 projects she wants to do.  It’s gonna be a busy day.

I would have gotten much of this done yesterday except we were making things.  Making things is far more fun than cleaning things or packing things.  A pox on responsibility.

In other news, I have a new mesclun sprout.  I don’t know how, or when, but it snuck up on me and was proudly standing up between the pot of vermicompost and an old newspaper.  This pot hasn’t been watered in months.  It’s like the Gardening Gods felt bad about my seed woes and sent a gift.  I also have several sprouts in the pot of vermicompost.  I don’t know what they are, though.  It looks like maybe cukes.  How about that.

Can you tell that I’m freaking out about getting everything done?  I don’t need coffee in the morning, I need oxygen.

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Reverse Blog-ology

So I’ve noticed how often I come over here and announce one thing, and then shortly after am singing a different tune.  Like when I announced I was having trouble writing two days ago and then found myself typing away within 24 hours.  Anyway, one of the things I wrote about yesterday was trying to appreciate the opportunity to gouge away at my medi-phobia.  And then I proceeded to freak out.

I don’t know exactly what it is I’m afraid of.  I run different reasons through my head and none of them hit me in the gut with absolute truth.  I’m not afraid of doctors or nurses or other medical personnel.  I’m afraid of diagnosis but not to the point where I am paralyzed by it.  I’m afraid of dying, and I’m sure I blow things out of proportion in my head, but I highly doubt, even in my weakened emotional state, that I am dying (except in that ‘we’re all slowly dying’ angsty-pants sort of way.)

I think maybe I’m afraid of ceding control.  When you go to the doctor, you go to a person who has the power to determine things about your body that you cannot.  There are forms to fill out, waiting to wait, and all so you can explain yourself to a person who sits in judgment of your health.  It freaks me out.  I imagine I am seen as irresponsible for not coming sooner, for not already having determined what is the matter with me (or my children.)  It all comes squarely back to caring overly about what other people think of me.

Or perhaps, more accurately, it all comes squarely to me seeing myself as less than I should be.  I wish I knew why I think I’m such a screw-up.  Then maybe I’d stop thinking everybody else thinks I’m a screw-up too.  In the meantime, I’m hoping to get through the next few hours without working myself up too much.  And I’m hoping that pouring out all of this fear will get at least some of it out of my head.

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In Absentia

It’s been some time since I’ve taken this long of a break from the blogworld.  Truth is, I’ve not been having the best success with expressing myself in words lately.   And the other truth is, I have been far more interested in doing than talking about. For the time being, I’m going to keep buzzing around my little comfort area and see how it ends up.  I may bust through this existential miasma (ha!) soon, or it may stick around for a while.  I think I just need a little while to get my thoughts together and figure out what exactly I’m doing, and heaven knows that with a super-clingy 7 month old and a 5 year old who deserves Mommy Time too, I can barely come up with a spare moment to rub two thoughts against each other.

It’s not that dramatic, actually.  I’m just thinking a lot lately.  I’m still reading, but the writing…it’s just not a writing sort of period.  Does that make any sense?

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Of all the changes I’ve made for the Riot, the one that gets the most attention from people I tell about the reduction, by far, is the worm bin.  I think it’s partly because people usually try to get bugs out of their house, and part because I doubt anyone who knew me would figure me for the type to keep worms.  Many people are interested in the process of using a worm bin, including how the hell you go from rotting food to compost.  I’m still trial-and-error-ing my way through the last part, but I think I have an ok handle on the day-to-day.  At least, I can say categorically that I still have a shit-ton of worms, egg sacs galore, a jar full of vermicompost tea on my kitchen counter, and I’ve been able to pull a decent amount of compost from the first bin, although my method of doing so has been a colossal pain in the ass.

So this is how I did it.

I ordered my bin from the Worm Woman.  I got the model 7002, which came with a copy of Worms Eat My Garbage, as well as a box of wormins.  Worms Eat My Garbage is your number 1 source for vermicomposting information, and the folks at Flowerfield Enterprises are fantastically nice.  I highly recommend getting a bin from them if you are in the market.  Lots of people make their own but I’m terrible at following instructions and clumsy to boot so I figured this was safer.  In hindsight, I would have gotten the larger bin.  CSA time makes a whole bunch of food scrap, as does having a kid.  I imagine it will only get worse when Chico is on solids regularly.

Our package was waiting for us when we arrived home from vacation so it was a bit of a rush to set it up.  I was totally freaked out I had done it wrong and was going to wake up the next morning to a worm massacre, but apparently worms are pretty hearty little dudes.  Alls I did was rip up some newspaper from the recycling room, mix with water, work in some soil and toss the worms in.  Gently, of course.

You can start adding in food in the next day or so.  Let the worms get acclimated, find a good spot for the bin, stuff like that.  I have mine next to Lucy’s desk in the dining room.  The second is close by.  This way I can run the scraps in from the kitchen next door.  I’d love to have the bin in the kitchen but there is just no space.

I keep my scraps in old take-out containers, I do not chop it up or do anything to it.  I do keep the containers in the fridge after we had a bout of fruit fly infestation last summer.  For a while, I weighed and kept track of where I buried the scraps but after a while I just started eyeballing where there was space and tossing in bedding (packing paper, newspaper, paper bags) whenever it looked like it was getting too sloppy wet.  About a month before I had Chico, I stopped putting food in one half of the bin and then a few days before I had him I started trying to scoop out bits of the compost.  This was a huge pain, but I’m not hip to touching worms.  It took forever and barely made a dent in the amount of crap in the bin.

After Chico was born, the bin went untouched for about a month-six weeks.  I was sure that would be the end of the worms, but they survived.  I scooped out some more poop and switched feeding sides.  And then, a week or so ago, I got the second bin.

Bedding was set up, worms were moved, and we’re feeding in the second bin now.  I did a heavier duty scoop out of the first bin, finding there was still a lot of uneaten food mixed in with the vermicompost, as well as big puddles of ‘worm tea’ in the bottom which I scooped out and into the aforementioned jar.  I think I’m going to have to break down and dump it all out to sort, which I am dreading.  I need the 2 bins, though, to keep scraps from ending up in the trash.  And I need the compost, as I am finally planting my seedlings.

Anyway.  I find the worm bin to be super-easy aside from the ‘harvest’ of the worm poop, which is probably easier than I am making it.  Much of our food scrap is plant-based so it has definitely reduced our trash a bit.  The second bin should take it down a lot more.

I should mention, though, that my only indication that I am doing anything right is that my worms are multiplying like crazy. I have not done a particularly good job at following instructions or even looking at instructions.  I have read about other people having much more trouble with their bins than I have had with mine.  I am no expert.  But seriously, it’s been beyond easy for me.  And Lucy can help, which makes it educational too!

some of the stuff I feed to the worms:  any fruit or veg that falls on the floor, lots of apple cores and banana peels, wilty greens, carrot ends and peelings, coffee grounds and tea leaves/bags, paper towels that haven’t touched cleaning product/animal product, eggshells, dead leaves and flowers from houseplants, melon rinds (the worms love melon.  a lot.)  I do not put bread product in because it’s the only thing I’ve seen grow mold in the bin.  That was the only thing I had a problem with, plus a little bit of moisture draining from the side vent that wiped right up.  There’s no smell, no bugs, no worms escaping, no nothing.  And the worms don’t care if you think they’re gross as long as you keep feeding them 🙂

I was going to take pictures but I have a big teething monster-baby who no longer wants to be put down because whenever he is some mean baby throws all of his toys onto the floor.  I mastered the kangaroo carry with the pouch last night but for some reason can’t do it this morning.  sigh.

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On and On and On

Chico was up and down all night so I am rather bleary-eyed, yet somehow brimming with energy.  It’s like the first No-Doz buzz after an all-nighter before the nausea sets in.  No chalky taste, though.

Anywho.  I sprang from the bed at a luxurious 9 am.  I put on music and loaded the dishwasher because the pile of dishes was far too daunting to handwash.  I am a dish sissy sometimes.  I took my coffee to the dining room where I began to hand-shred old utility bills for the worm bin.  I changed a diaper, set Lucy to picking out toys for Chico from the drawer, checked my email, waded through some of my feed reader, stared out the window and tried to figure out what I want to make today.  That’s when I realized that I might just be incapable of finishing anything today because my brain is moving far more slowly than my hands.  Dammit.

Thus here are a few of the things flitting through the space behind my eyes.

*350.  That’s parts per million, and it refers to the level of CO2 we need to REDUCE TO in order to prevent irreversible atmospheric change.  Read Bill McKibben’s op-ed in the LA Times here.  350 is a crucial number and everybody needs to know about it if there is going to be any meaningful change in how the world looks at emissions.  And let’s face it–it’s great to wipe your arse with tc or bike to work or sign up for green power, but personal change is just never going to be enough.

*looking within and learning myself.  I wrote a post a while back about doing things because I wanted to.   Not because I should, or wanted to want to.  I’m trying to continue to approach my days from that perspective, and overall I think it’s made me happier with my actions.  The other side, unfortunately, is probably always going to be anxiety.  I wish it was easier to see when the anxiety was coming as a result of a challenge to my usual negativity but honestly I didn’t even realize it until I started writing this bullet point.  Score another one for blogging, eh?

*selfishness.  I tend to think selfishness is one of the worst qualities a person can have.  I’m starting to see from the above point that I need to allow myself a little selfish time.  At least enough that I can say, ‘wait a minute, I need…’  There are degrees of being selfish, and not all are equal.  And some of the things I do that are most selfish are the ones I have done in the name of being good to myself but are things that really aren’t good.  Like the mounds of beauty product I bought over the years to ‘treat’ myself that did nothing but make me feel less-than.  On the other hand, there is skipping housework to make a necklace, or sticking the baby on daddy’s lap to read a book.  It’s interesting how much easier the former is than the latter, how conditioned I’ve been to feel like primping, keeping house, and 24/7 baby care are acceptable but making something or learning something is ‘selfish’ or should be relegated to ‘if there’s time’ status.  I’m trying to remember that it’s ok to do the things I like to do, and especially to NOT beat myself up if I choose to do them over chores or things I feel like other people expect me to do.

*the last is ‘what other people think.’  Oh, do I ever have a problem with what other people think.  A huge chunk of the inadequacy I feel about myself is due to worrying about what other people think of me.  I hate it.  I hate being paralyzed by the fear that people are talking about me behind my back, or are only being nice to me because they have to, or because they pity me or want something from me.  It’s probably the thing that causes me the most mental anguish; trying to figure out if people like me, or why people like me.  It’s really hard to write about this, actually.  In some ways I’d like to print it on a t-shirt so that people know that this is why I don’t make friends easily or start conversations, why sometimes I can have wonderful experiences with people and then never call them–be paralyzed by the fear that I’m the only one who had fun or that I’m misremembering what happened or or or…it really sucks.

Meanwhile, back in life, everybody but me is doing a craft as I clickety-clack my mental inadequacies here.   I gotta get out of here and go join in!

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Every once in a while I’ll wake up and just feel a particular color.  I don’t know how to explain it in easy terms…it’s sort of like having a song stuck in my head only it’s a color instead.  Most often it has been a blue tone.  This morning I woke up feeling orange.

Orange is the color of creativity and expression.  And as much as I am skeptical about chakras and color vibrations and all that rot, reading the description of not having enough orange is pretty close to what I’ve been going through.  I’m not about to run out for crystals yet (ok, I am probably going to dig through the bag of stones I have though) nor am I going to douse myself in Jasmine or Ylang Ylang (although I actually own both oils…coincidence?) but I am going to do some more thinking on this whole orange deal.

/crazy hippie talk

The interesting part about orange is that I have slowly been adding more orange to the house.  I started out with lots of green and yellow and white and wood in the living room, but it never felt warm enough.  Since swapping the white for brown and adding in orange and gray, it’s felt much more homey.  Part is moving from a twill to a corduroy, and part is definitely the rounded shapes of the chairs and couch, but the orange just makes me happy when I look at it.

But Jen, why are you telling me this?

Fuck if I know.  But I am thinking about doing a collage today.  Maybe on a journal cover.   And I might make it orange on one side and green on the other because I need to be creative and I need to staunch this anxiety.


I awoke this morning from a dream that I had been arguing with C about household chores.  I stomped around for twenty minutes before I had myself convinced that it was actually a dream and not a real argument we had.  I hate those dreams that seem so real the emotion carries over into the waking world.  Still, I’m going to make him take some trash and recycling down to the basement just on principle.


All of my seedlings need planted.  Tomorrow!  My mesclun sprouts died save one, which is sort of upsetting but not so much because the seeds were years old and we’ll be getting a jillion tons of greens from the CSA.  The lavender never germinated, or the onions.  Everything else is going strong.  In fact, we have more tomatoes than we planned and are going to have to wangle tomato cages once they get bigger.  There’s only one lonely little chive plant though.  I’ll get pictures once everything is in its proper place.

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So no sooner had Lucy left for the party than a wave of nerves washed over me.  Was it going to look cheap that only one of the 4 presents for each girl was purchased?  I shook it off, but by last night on the phone with my mom, I was really worried.

See, I spent many years of my childhood with my grandparents as my main caregivers.  There was a generational thing going on, and I felt decidedly different from my peers.  And yes, a lot of this was because I felt like my grandparents kept me from being like the other kids.  I didn’t have a lot of licensed crap, the stuff I played with was well on the ‘educational’ spectrum, and my lunches were always uber-healthy.  You know how the magazines tell you to tuck notes into your kid’s lunch box to say ‘I love you?’  She did that.  And I hated it.  I wanted to be like the kids who wore their house keys on pop bead chains tucked into their t-shirts so that Molesters didn’t know they were latch key kids.  But I digress.  Back to yesterday…

I don’t want my daughter to feel like the odd one out because of me.  I don’t want her to be made fun of.  And I’ll be honest, I don’t want the other parents to think I’m some crazy hippy, even though I’m pretty close to being some crazy hippy.  I also don’t want to be so worried about what other people think that I act more for their benefit than for my own.  Because that sucks even more than folks looking at you funny.

Anyway, this morning I’m pretty frustrated with myself.  It feels like as soon as I’m feeling good about how I’m living or things that I’m doing, my brain finds some way to tell me that I’ve screwed the whole thing up.  I did this with the last proofing assignment and now I’m doing it with the presents.  It sucks to live always looking over my shoulder for the person who may think I’m a terrible -insert title here-.

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oly beautiful day.  I mean…wow.  First yesterday and now today–sunny, warm, like winter is over.  I am so happy to be able to get outside with Chico without having to wrestle to keep his mittens on and socks pulled up.

Today will be another museum trip but this time I think I’ll haul him through the Jasper Johns exhibit so that I don’t miss it.  Time with him, now, or the exhibit.


Last evening, at the playground, Lucy tried out a swinging bridge part that she was afraid of last summer.  As she was crossing it, beaming with pride, telling me, ‘look mommy!  I don’t need to hold on to you!’ a couple of older boys went running through, stepping over her feet and sending the bridge shaking.   Her face fell, glee replaced by terror and something like embarrassment mixed with defeat.  My heart broke as I remembered being the little scared one who was proud of myself for doing the things the other kids found so natural.  She bounced back right away, running to the water fountain for a quick drink.  I woke up this morning needing to hug her, to make it all right again, to make that feeling go away.  That’s when I realized that our children are always stronger than we give them credit for because our children are stronger than we are.

And that its so much easier when they are babies and can be strapped on and carried about and when nobody would dare laugh at them.

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