Rags

Next up: Rags.

Because Loki was such an aggressive cat, when Kullervo and I started trying to have a baby, we had to decide what we would do.  Obviously, you can’t keep a cat around who hates children.  And Loki did.  He had been aggressive to children in our home before, and we were worried that he would do the same with our own kids. However, we were loathe to give him up because he was a part of our family.

So we decided that when we got pregnant, we would get another cat.  We figured that bringing a new addition into the home would be a way for Loki to learn some flexibility and how to get along with other creatures.

It just so happened, totally coincidentally, that Rags came along.  Kullervo was at his two week annual training in New York, and I had the flu.  Except, on a lark one night on the phone, Kullervo said that I should take a pregnancy test, because… what if?  We’d been trying to have a baby for a year and a half at that point, so it seemed a little silly.  But the next day I got a test… and found out I was pregnant.

That same day, some of the guys Kullervo was training with found a tiny kitten that had been mauled by some animal.  Kullervo fell in love with her.  She cuddled up to him, mewed in his ear, and let him take care of her.  He sneaked her onto the Army bus home in a box that had been filled with stuff used for cleaning weapons.  The inside of the box said “RAGS”.

When Kullervo got home, he showed me our new pet… and I wasn’t impressed.  Rags was a skinny piece of fur and bones (some of which we might have actually been able to see).  She was the ugliest kitten I had ever seen in my life.

We took her to the vet and got medicine to clean her up and make her better.  We also found out that she was actually a boy, but was so little that his testicles hadn’t descended yet.

Rags hung out with me when Loki wouldn’t, through my entire pregnancy.  He would steal broccoli off of my plate, and eat all of my mashed potatoes.  I swear, we were  a match made in heaven.  (And who’s ever heard of a cat that eats broccoli and potatoes?!)

Rags also tempered Loki’s awfulness (a bit).  Loki took on the role of single dad, and he and Rags became buddies.

Nowadays, Rags doesn’t venture outside.  He’s scared of his own shadow and jumps at every noise he hears.  He’ll hide for hours at a time.  But he loves Hazel to pieces, and lets her pet him and hug him and have her stuffed animals give him kisses.  She calls him her little buddy, and he often snuggles up on her bed with her at night.

We’ve always called him our little cat, but really, he’s a giant.  Loki is enormous (morbidly obese), and Rags might be slightly overweight, but even without the weight, both are just big cats.

Rags still loves me best and will come when I call him.  He’s an absolute sweetheart who charms anyone who gets to see him.  And he has turned into a beautiful cat with a handsome face and attractive markings.

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Getting Married Was My Biggest Mistake-And I’m So Glad I Made It

I got married for all the wrong reasons.  I was 19, and for the first time in my life I was in a relationship with someone who was brilliantly smart, incredibly handsome, strong, and kind.  I was new to the Mormon church, and he was a newly returned missionary when I met him.  I was in awe of how much he knew about the gospel, and how all that knowledge seemed so effortless.  It was just a part of who he was.

I remember the first time I saw Kullervo—it was at church and I thought he must have been the cutest boy ever.  I said that I’d marry him someday.  It took my first semester of college pining after him before I went home for Christmas break and decided to give up and not waste all of college with a crush on a boy who wasn’t interested.  When I came back to school, though, he asked me out.  And I said yes.

The next few months were a whirlwind.  We spent all of our time together that we could.  His family was so nice to me and made me feel like a part of the family.  He was still so smart and so lovely—total eye and brain candy for me.  Of course I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him!

But… what did I know?  I was just barely out of high school!  I was in a new town, in a new church, in a whole new life.  We got married that summer—as soon as the church would let us marry in the temple—and everything was wonderful.  Then the fighting started.  We were young, neither of us had had a lot of relationships, and we had to sort of figure it all out on our own.  We fought about everything—whether to get butter or margarine at the grocery store, how often we should be having sex (it turns out that five times a day just isn’t sustainable no matter how attracted you are to each other!), what we did in our spare time.  I think some people close to us were certain that we wouldn’t still be married after the first year was up.

Over the years, some of those disagreements we have resolved (we buy butter and margarine), and some still plague us (we always fight about driving directions).  More important than what we fight about is how we fight.  Being married to Conner taught me how to resolve a conflict.  Growing up, when I would fight with my sisters, we would be mad at each other until we made each other laugh… and then we would never talk about what we’d fought about.  I don’t know that I’ve ever resolved a fight with my sisters—we’ve just moved on.  So we probably would still fight about the same issues as we did when we were kids.  (Luckily, I rarely fight with my sisters because we live too far for it to matter too much, and they’re both awesome.  I never fight with my brother because he’s not the fighting kind.)

So we survived the first year, and our marriage was strong.  We moved—first to Tallahassee, and then to New York.  We struggled to get pregnant… and then pregnancy surprised us when we were no longer trying (and at a fairly inconvenient time, I might add).   We were sure that having a baby would change everything, but we really just had no idea.  We had been married for five years, and we were so used to being just us.   Having that change was a really difficult adjustment, and one we had to make again when we had Hazel.  And we weathered those storms and came out on top.

We are almost nine years into this, and I couldn’t be happier.  I think we got married when we were unreasonably young, and for all the wrong reasons, and without a clue of how to do this.  But I also think that we persevered and learned a lot as we went.  We work really hard to communicate when things aren’t okay, and when they are, and to support each other in our crazy dreams and wishes and feelings.  And it works for us.

Chilly Anyone?

Ahhh, I’m so punny. No, really. Because jokes about cold are always funny when you live in Chicago, I had to go with this title.

Anyway, I hate chili. I have always hated chili. I don’t like kidney beans, I don’t like spicy foods, I don’t like chili powder, I don’t like the texture, the taste, the anything.

However, last week when my in-laws were visiting, my father-in-law wanted to cook us his chili. And they’re my in-laws. So I couldn’t very well say no, especially since I have such a terrible reputation for being ridiculously picky about food. (For the record, I’m not picky about food, and I will always try a bite, but I’m not going to eat a ton of food I don’t like, and if I have a say, I like to be the one cooking (so I can avoid things like chili) or helping to decide what to make.) So, I made rice on the side and determined to eat a small helping and fill up on rice and never, ever complain.

Here’s the thing though–it was really good! He used pinto beans instead of kidney beans, and didn’t use chili powder at all. What a difference! I guess one might say that those changes make the dish not chili at all… but who cares?! I didn’t have to lie when I said that I enjoyed it!

It also meant that when I came across a chili recipe in a magazine (Real Simple), I actually looked at it. And then I bought the ingredients. And then I cooked it. And it was delicious! I liked changing the ground beef to ground turkey in the recipe. The turkey adds extra flavor while providing a similar texture. There was a generous amount of cumin in the dish, but not so much that it overpowered it. And while I still omitted the chili powder, I did substitute some chipotle hot sauce from Kullervo’s Christmas hot sauce gift set. And, like my father-in-law, I also replaced the kidney beans. In this case, I used a can of pinto beans and a can of navy beans (both drained and rinsed well, of course, so that dinner didn’t taste like a can).

I served the chili with rice and with a French loaf, and basked in the praise as Kullervo raved all night about how delicious dinner was. All in all, culinary success!

A Study on Bad Timing

Because I am on a flexible work arrangement at work, when I worked mad, crazy hours during busy season, I was able to choose two weeks to take off later in the year without taking official vacation days.

Because Kullervo was graduating in May, I chose the first two weeks in June, thinking that we would have some time together as a family, that I would have nice time in the early summer with the kids to play outside all day, every day before the brutality of summertime hit.  This worked conveniently around the schedule of my current client at work, and it was going to be perfect.

Then Kullervo’s summer annual training with the National Guard changed its dates, so the entire second week that I am off from work, he is gone.

Then we realized the awfulness of bar exam studying, and how it makes law school look like half-day kindergarten.

Still, I have these two weeks to play outside with the kids, “chalking” (as Oliver calls it), taking nature walks, swimming in the pool, basking in the sun (with tons of sunscreen, of course).

It rained for the ENTIRE first week that I was off.  All of this past week has been rain.  Every day.  All day.  If it’s not raining, it’s pouring.  If it’s not pouring, it’s drizzling.  If it’s not drizzling, there’s lightning.  If there’s none of the above, it’s nighttime and nobody realizes it.  And the forecast calls for nothing but rain for the next 10 days.

On top of that, Oliver developed what may be his worst diaper rash ever.  It was so bad that changing his diaper either took two people, or took one person holding him down using acrobatic-style leg calisthenics while he screamed bloody murder, “Don’t hurt me!  Don’t hurt my bum!” and I was certain that someone was going to report us to child services.  The diaper rash turned out to possibly be a blessing in disguise, because it finally convinced Oliver to attempt to use his potty.  And if he’s naked, he’ll use it without accident.  If he’s wearing anything, he’ll just let loose.  (I figure it’s a step in the right direction, right?)

And, because there has to be an ‘and’ here, Hazel appears to be teething, and hasn’t slept for more than about 30 minutes at a stretch at night for at least three nights in a row, which, of course, means that Kullervo and I haven’t slept for more than about 30 minutes at a stretch, and because the first night Kullervo didn’t realize, my boobs are so sore from nursing her every 30 minutes all night long that I remembered why I am fine to wait awhile before having another new baby, because the first few weeks of nursing are a horrible time.

But being inside with two kids all day makes them whiny.  And yell-y.  And bored.  They’re so bored they don’t want to watch TV.  They’re so bored that at the suggestion of a movie, Oliver says, “Um, how about we do something else, okay?”

So, that was last week.  Today, because God realized that I was really, really, really, really, really, really going to need it, it did not rain.  We dropped Kullervo off at Army this morning and headed for the zoo.  We went to the zoo, threw some tantrums, saw four animals (a free zoo makes going with toddlers much more enjoyable, because who cares if you only see four animals and your kids are much more concerned with the HUGE ant they saw walking by the window when they were looking at the bear sloth?), had an argument, chased some birds, and then came home for lunch.  After naptime, we went and tried out a couple of playgrounds we hadn’t been to in awhile (verdict: the first one was ghetto and I worried that we would be eaten by zombie drug addicts or something, and the second one was great with a lot of kids and parents who didn’t appear to judge me as I tried to keep both of my children from dying while perched on high playground surfaces and who lended a hand when it appeared that both were trying to dive off of opposite ends at the same time), and then came home right at dinnertime.

But, because we had to say goodbye to Kullervo for two weeks today, I have been an emotional wrecking ball today and desperately worked to not show the kids so they didn’t get freaked out.  I’ve been tired–I napped right along with the kids today, and it was AMAZING!–and on the verge of tears all day.

So, now I have rambled on and on and on and should probably re-read this before I post it because probably huge sections of it aren’t even going to make sense, but whatever.

50 Things I Love

Because imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery, I hope Katie won’t mind that I’m totally copying her.  Some things, like my husband and children are obvious so I’m not putting them.

Some things that I love right now:

  1. Puns
  2. Singing Kool and the Gang‘s <i>Celebration</i> when Oliver uses the potty.
  3. Naptime
  4. Working
  5. Coming home
  6. Riding in an airplane all by myself
  7. Knitting
  8. Matt Damon
  9. Big cities
  10. Driving down the road with music blaring, singing at the top of my lungs, dancing like a maniac, and looking over and seeing the person in the lane next to me is watching me and that I have totally just made his morning.
  11. m&ms with my coffee
  12. Babies’ skin.  I love how soft and smooth it is, like it has never had a worry or been disappointed
  13. Karaoke Revolution
  14. Cooking
  15. Office supplies.  I know it’s weird, but having a drawer full of blank, lined paper makes me happy.  Also, clicky pencils.
  16. Diet Coke
  17. Blue
  18. Painted walls
  19. Taking pictures
  20. Pirate jokes
  21. The West Wing
  22. Britney Spears
  23. Manos, the Hands of Fate
  24. Rings.  I wish I had one for every finger.  I have fat fingers though, so it’s hard to find.
  25. Vanilla ice cream with magic shell chocolate on top.  Mmmmm.
  26. That I got my belly button pierced again
  27. Tank tops
  28. Boots!
  29. A new computer
  30. Shopping with Kullervo, without the kids
  31. Making people laugh (probably everyone likes this)
  32. Gmail chat
  33. Papa John’s pizza with pineapple (and the garlic sauce)
  34. Oliver’s paintings
  35. Surprising creative things that I come up with and then implement, and that turn out as good or better than I had hoped, like this
  36. Doing gender atypical things (for example, changing my own oil in my car, which I did for years)
  37. Chocolate milk
  38. Cupcakes (hee!)
  39. New York City
  40. Redecorating when Kullervo isn’t home
  41. Vacuuming
  42. Having plans to do something with Kullervo at night after the kids go to bed, but getting so wrapped up in conversation that we forget to do it until it’s too late
  43. Brownie batter
  44. The idea of outside
  45. Sheep
  46. The blog post that will. not. die
  47. Being an Assassin Wife of Fury
  48. Down comforters and pillows
  49. The way that Kullervo looks in a pair of jeans (hot!!)
  50. Socks

Five Minutes

After a day filled with
whining,
potty breaks,
potty victory celebrations,
slightly sick kids,
yelling,
fighting,
debating over ‘one more bite’,
stuck inside because of the rain…
I have five minutes.

Five minutes to sit back and close my eyes.

Five minutes to imagine my next knitting project (I’m currently between, which is always a tough spot to be in).

Five minutes to sit on the couch and read a few pages of Wicked, the book I’m currently reading.

Five minutes where I can take a mental vacation to New York City, and I swear I can smell the hot dogs cooking at the street vendor as I walk down the street, surrounded by people, all going about their business, all looking like they are in vastly different businesses, but all in the city that I love.

Five minutes to drink–and enjoy–some chocolate milk and say a prayer of gratitude for Nesquik and for sometimes not having to share.

Five minutes to listen to my husband bathing the children and hear them all giggling in delight.

Five minutes just for me, where I can enjoy what I have, what I am, what I have created, and what I will create.

Thank you, God, for five minutes.

April Showers

I was reading a blog post by Mama Saga about an activity she did with her daughter during the month of March.

I realized that I am a slacker mom whose activities with her own children involve more throwing stuff at each other, dancing and singing silly songs (all of which are important and fun) and probably not enough learning and conceptual stuff. Oliver is smart nonetheless, probably more a product of genetics and less a product of my incessant need to make rhymes out of our conversations. But I’ve seen him flourish in Sunday school classes and under the direction of our incredibly nanny.

So, I decided to do what any American-high-school educated girl would do. I copied Mama Saga. 🙂

Since March is over, I had to come up with a new idea. (And note that although I suggested it, Conner actually implemented it, so I actually deserve no credit for this even a little bit.) The slogan for April is that April showers bring May flowers. We created a calendar for the month and are putting raindrops or suns on it depending on the weather that day. At the end of the month, we can count up the number of days that it rained and see if there were a lot of April showers.

Here is the calendar that Conner and Oliver made this morning.
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PS: If it’s not obvious, Oliver did the coloring of the calendar… (although it easily could have been me).