Monday, December 10, 2012

Week(s) in Review

Kombucha brewing.  Did you know kombucha is $4 a bottle?  Did you know I'm super cheap?

Finished kombucha plus SCOBY for my friend Tory.  
Mooch after trying kombucha.  Not a fan.  Butterbean loves it but she's a weirdo.  
Interested in being a super-cheap hippie?  Kombucha home brewing directions here.
She is also my complete crunchy/granola girl crush.

Butterbean at her preschool Thanksgiving feast.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THE CUTE.

Girly dance parties in our living room.  Amazing.  PS That ghe-tto side table and couch are gone, thank you baby Jesus.

A lot more dancing, a lot more changes, a lot more ....

The girls are adjusting so well and I tell them "We can think of this as an adventure".  I hope to inspire them while we go onto this next chapter.  And yet the nurturer in me hates to take them out of their comfort zone.  Their Dad now lives in a different home.  We are moving out of our house in the new year.  So many changes for them, and while I know they must be hard on my girls I can feel all of this guiding us towards something better.  I know from now on I won't chase something that can't be, I will put myself and my girls first, I will face hard things and work through them.  I'm ready. 

I also find myself having lots of deep conversations with people lately about if monogamy does or does not work, which I find very funny.  I've become kind of a touch stone for this.  Women tend to either say to me "Oh I have days I could absolutely divorce my husband" or women who say "I just can't walk away from all I have invested in this".  It's a very odd place to be in in a conversation.  To the 'investors' I want to say, you do realize this isn't a business transaction?  You only have one little life to live here, you might as well be happy.  The former I want to say, every married person has those days.  If the good outweigh the bad, it's worth hanging in there.  I got to a point where the bad far outweighed the good - it was a matter of survival.  And despite the biological clues I do think monogamy works, if the circumstances are right.  My parents have been married almost 40 years and are insanely in love and each other's best friends.  I have always had a feeling that my path towards that would be twisty-turny, and that's ok.  It's part of what will ultimately make me who I am supposed to be.

And until then, I bake bread, and take my dog for hikes, and play and craft and laugh with my perfect girls, and rub my sister's bellies where my nieces/nephews are growing, and am generally excited about life and love and the whole crazy lot of it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Week In Review

I brought my camera to Thanksgiving and took not a single picture.  So for that, you will have to just picture me next to the chiminea on my parents deck with a fire going, glass of red in my hand, laughing with family as my daughters danced and sang for us. 

But for the rest of it ...

Berry pancakes and Butterbean giving you "the eyes"

Mooch protecting her sister from the Abominable Snowman while watching Rudolph

Making snowcones from their Snoopy Snow Cone maker in 40 degree weather.  These days it feels like our little girl troop is very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants .... we craft and cook a lot, go for lots of hikes.  Every weekend that they are with me we all sleep together in my bed, one girl on either side of me.  My mind can be racing and I can be very out of sorts, but snuggling up with them is the best sleep I have.

Shaving cream + food colouring = puffy bath finger paint

An added bonus I didn't think of before we did this - after they had painted the bathtub top to bottom, I handed them both washcloths and told them to wipe everything off.  They got into that almost as much as the painting part.  So their bathtub is now shining - not that I condone child labor.  Ahem.

And since you didn't get to see the Halloween costumes, I give you the greatest kids costumes ever.  FIN.

Monday, November 19, 2012

After The Storm

And the time came, when the risk to remain in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom. ~ Anais Nin

And so it was.
The day after my oldest girl turned 7, we told the girls that we were separating.  To spare the blow-by blow, initially they both took it very hard.  I'll never forget the look in Maya's eyes when it sunk in - I could see her pain, fear, confusion, sadness.  In that moment my heart broke for my girl and if we had not tried absolutely everything to save our marriage I know that moment would have been so, so much worse.  Tegan clung to her Daddy, crying, and begged him not to go.  We both hugged her and reassured her that she would still see us both and we both loved her and her sister so much.  She calmed down very quickly, where poor Maya was a little ball of hurt for two hours, alternately sobbing hysterically or throwing things.  We took turns trying to talk to her, telling her that whatever she was feeling was normal for this and that we loved her and were sorry.  Then she consented to a ride to Daddy's new apartment to see it and the new bunkbeds, and by the time they came back and picked up Tegan and I for lunch she was even smiling a little, told me she loved me and hugged me.  We went to lunch and it was sad and happy - which seems to be a regular place for us now, this balancing of knowing that this is the right thing with the pain of making it so.  Maya brought markers to lunch and wrote "Mom" with a heart on one hand, then asked me to write "Dad" on the other hand with a heart.

My sweet little girl is doing so well.  It is absolutely not a smooth road, but she has a great counselor at her school who is helping her tremendously.  Maya is a "fixer" and it's hard for her to accept that not only did she not have a choice in this, she also can't fix it.  The girls and I are also keeping a journal together, taking turns writing in it to each other and passing it back and forth; and at the suggestion of a friend I am also keeping my own journal for them to read when they are older.  Tegan has moments of being sad about having to go back and forth between homes, and in those moments Maya always jumps in to cheer her up and help her.  That's where she shines, helping other people.  I always tell my girls "No matter what, you always have your sister" and they are absolutely growing even closer through this. 
There is so much to sort through.  We have to sell our house, I have to find someplace comfortable for the girls and I to move to, I have to buy a new car (my 12 year old car is finally giving out) but this is all small potatoes.  The only thing that matters is my daughters are going to be ok.  They'll have ups and downs but they are strong and sweet and fierce.
And I'm finding through this, and I hope to spread the message, that divorce does not have to be awful.  I am absolutely convinced that marriage is work and I recommend you try everything possible to save your marriage.  But if you get to a point where nothing is working, it's ok to decide to part ways before you hate each other, before you've said things that can't be un-said and inflicted too many wounds.  Once you have children together you are forever linked, and there is no way to sever that - so you might as well find a way to be friends and let go of the bad stuff.  It might be just as hard as trying to save your marriage, or even harder; but you can give your children the gift of two happy parents. 

I'm hoping after this post to get this blog to a new place of recipes and things that make me laugh and pictures of the greatest dog in the whole world, but there will always be updates of how my girls are doing.  Because I think the whole "children of a broken home" stigma is pure and utter bullshit.  There is no reason that divorce needs to be awful and painful, sometimes it can be just the start of a new chapter, for you and your children, a way to show them that it is ok to make a choice which allows you to grow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Full Moon Musings

We break it to our beautiful, perfect, sweet daughters on Sunday that we are divorcing.

It's strange that at this stage in my life it seems like the majority of the married people I know are urging me to "work things out" - as if they possibility hasn't been explored yet; while my single/divorced friends are leaning towards splitting up.  I have had a feeling a few times: I just want someone to ask me, what do you want?  My family and close friends are the only ones to go there, and the answer from my heart is always the same.  I want to be happy and I know that I can't be in this marriage.

He has asked me the same thing; what are you looking for that I couldn't give you?

Honestly, it's not that complicated.  I want to be loved and appreciated, encouraged to grow and explore.  Appreciated for my whole-hearted devotion to my daughters and my family.  To be able to cook meals for a house bursting with people sometimes, and other times just a few of my beloveds.  For someone to notice that I'm petrified of lightning when I'm outside but fascinated when I'm inside; someone that wants to know why I love sycamores so much and wants to debate with me without feeling they need to tear me down to prove a point.  I want a love that inspires my daughters to seek the same; something that will fill their hearts long after I'm gone.

I balance this with wanting to be unselfish about what is best for my daughters.  I know I'm not being the best parent I can when I'm unhappy, but how do you explain that now?  A good friend suggested I keep a journal and that's what I've been doing; writing down a lot of stuff that they can read when they are older.  Trying to be honest about what I am feeling, who their father is, who I am, and what brought us to this.  It's a love story with a twist .... a twist that goes down a very, very unexpected and undesired path.  I do want a love story, but the wool's been pulled away from my eyes.  I know who I am and I know what I want.

I've been comforting myself with thinking of all the still married but horribly dysfunctional couples I know.  Is that wrong?  I can't help but think of adult relatives who have come out of unhappy marriages and have gone on to unhappy marriages themselves.  Of course the inverse is true.  But it keeps me from thinking of all of the horrible divorce statistics for children.

If you can spare a wish, good feelings, love, a prayer, please do so for my sweet girls.  They know something is up but can't know that this is coming.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Carving

 These little girls of mine - to say that the last few weeks have been stressful is a huge understatement.  But they never fail to amaze me and make me smile.

  I'll get the yucky stuff over with first - my husband and I are separating.  Through LOTS of discussions, counseling, and careful consideration, we've realized we are not what the other one needs to be happy and grow and be the best people we can.  There is a mountain of work to be done with this process - we are continuing counseling, both separately and together, we have to sort out a big financial tangle with our house, figure out a schedule with our kids that will be the least disruptful, and we have to divide up the contents of our house.  So, I've had to drop my math classes for now, in order to focus all my attention on my kids and to be as present as possible with them. 

  It's funny and strange and scary and full of potential.  My husband and I are falling into a friendship routine, and doing our best to stay friendly throughout this weird-as-balls process.  We agree on how a lot of things should go with the separation, so there is that. 

  And it's fall - probably my favorite season, although I hate to have just one, you know?  I think each season makes me appreciate the next one more.  It is Halloween time though, and the girls and I get completely into it every year.  I have their costumes, they are amazing, and I'll show them to you after Halloween so you can get the full effect of their awesomeness.  But you can see our pumpkins now.

  Me:  Girls, what do we need to carve pumpkins?  What would you like to do with them?  Mooch : I want a face on mine but I also want it to look like a lantern.  Butterbean: I want paint and glitter!

The all-important pumpkin carving dance.

Mooch's solution to "making it look like a lantern"

I don't think we'll ever carve pumpkins without power tools again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Day With The Bean

May every sunrise hold more promise and every sunset hold more peace.

Two weeks ago my sister took Mooch for a sleepover at her house, and Bean and I found ourselves with a whole free day, just the two of us.  I've become slightly obsessed with the Play At Home Mom blog and their simple philosophy to encourage learning and emotional growth through creative play.  A theme with all of their posts is letting your child take the lead and trusting in their instincts.  So I asked Bean, what do you want to do today?  You get to be the boss today.  And she said, go to Longwood Gardens and eat cookies and play in the fountains, then have a picnic in the living room.

Yes, we can get a stroller so you can rest your little feet.

Yes you can paint with water on the walls (Longwood has amazing volunteers)

Me & my girls hands
Yes you can chase the leaping water for as long as you want.  I'm surprised these came out so clear, she was cracking me up.

Yes you can take pictures with the camera to show me your point of view. 

Yes we can eat cookies by the fountains and you can take my picture, and pictures of other interesting things ...

Yes you can help me pull up veggies for dinner when we get home

... and then have your dinner in a tent in the living room while watching Jumanji with Mommy.  I love you, baby girl.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sing it to me, Wino.

Amy Winehouse just does it for me right now.  I loved her from the first time I heard Back To Black, and I listened to it so much that my 6 year old knows all the words.  She's so raw on that whole album.  Maybe because I know (and am related to) so many with substance abuse issues, even when she was all whacked out and obviously sick I was rooting for her.  And when I heard that she had died it was so sad not only because she was so young but also because I wanted to be able to hear more from her.  I loved that crazy crackhead.  This song in particular I've been singing to myself a lot lately, and seems appropriate for this rainy day and my mixed up heart

Friday, September 14, 2012

And .... *Part 2*

I walked into a university classrooom for the first time as a real student.  I need to take a college level algebra and statistics class towards the degree I want (Landscape Horticulture and Design) and I took one look at the textbook for the class and felt sick to my stomach.  It may as well have been written in Swahili.

  So I am taking a "refresher" math class.  I am by farrrrrr the oldest person in there.  The other students are freshmen who didn't do well in math their last year of high school, so they are taking this non-credit class.  They went over all of this last year, they just didn't do well at it.  The last time I even thought about half of the things we're covering in class (and even then, not much) was 15 years ago when I was in high school.  Humbling.  They yell out answers while I furiously write down everything that comes out of the professor's mouth.  They finish their homework in 30 minutes, it takes me hours.  They have no idea about not being able to start your homework until after you put your kids to bed, which comes after you've worked a full day and taken care of housework and made dinner and cleaned up.   But I'm working through it and I WILL learn all this. 

Mooch's school was looking for volunteers to head up the landscaping committee, so guess who volunteered?  Yup.  It's an excuse to play in the dirt.  I'm also chairing the vegetable garden committee. 

And Mooch is now a big stinky first grader and Butterbean is a little stinky preschooler.  Bean loves school, she was so excited to start, and Mooch loves her new teacher. 

My only little garden was woefully under-utilized this year, but I intend to plant a few winter crops and get a truckload of new soil in the spring.  It's hard to get excited about the garden when things between me and the Mister are so uncertain.  The phrase "polishing brass on the Titanic" keeps popping into my thoughts.  Especially since one day we are relatively happy and the next day it hits us both how bad things are. 

I'm still exercising, but with everything going on I'm not as consistant as I was.  I'm just tired in the mornings and it's really hard to get up, but I always feel so much better when I do.  This morning I woke up at 5:40, put on my running stuff and headed out.  The temp was low 70's, it was perfect - and after 3 miles I felt recharged and a bit more peaceful.  I walked up my block and was appreciating the beds I put in on either side of my driveway and how well they've done, filled with flowers and herbs, and this phrase popped into my head and I felt like I could breathe:

Where I Am *Part 1*

Hello all, and thank you for following me to this new place.

Right now is a time of tides turning, seasons changing, all that scary/new/exciting stuff.  I've thought so much about how to present all this, but I think I just have to go straight from my heart.

If you've read my previous blog you know that my relationship with my husband has never been complete smooth sailing.  And I know every relationship is flawed in some way, I do - but we've had way more than average flaws.  Throw into that mix crazy job schedules, two kids, a dog, a cat, two fancy rats; depression and anger issues (him), simmering resentment and unfulfillment (me), two VERY different outlooks on life, and a serious breakdown in communication ... and my friends, you get a very messy situation.

Long story short, he came from an unhappy home and grew up watching an unhealthy marriage.  I grew up in a fairly happy home with parents who adore each other and are each other's best friends.  When all of our issues started piling up and the few times we tried to talk it out ended in screaming matches, we just stopped talking.  Or looking at each other.  This has been going on for the better part of a year.  To him, we were living in the same house and raising our kids together and were able to be civil when we were around each other.  He thought things were fine.  To me, everytime I was around him I was in turns angry, hurt, sad, or frustrated.  I couldn't relax, I couldn't truly enjoy my kids, I could barely concentrate on anything for a minute.  This all came to a head when he discovered I was having an emotional affair.  I honestly was at a point that I didn't think he would care, that we were both strictly there for the kids.  First lesson: don't assume.  Second lesson: always, always be honest.  Not just in marriage - once you have children together, you've created something greater than yourself and you have a higher obligation to a moral standard, no matter your beliefs. 

The full range of his anger and his simmering depression came out, and he said a lot of thing that I knew he would say.  He called me names and told me he was only there for the kids.  That he would never forgive me and that I was a horrible person.  That the person I was having the affair with could care less about me.  Then he took my wedding band back and told me to leave. 

I went to my parents house (the girls were there, thankfully both napping) I spent the day talking to them and my sister and crying my eyes out.  I physically hurt all over and was nauseous.  I couldn't stop asking why - WHY was he not satisfied, and not working harder to appreciate his wife?  Yes I did something wrong.  But as a friend said to me "You jumped off the cliff but he pushed you right to the edge".  When I returned to our home that night with the kids we put them both to bed and then stayed up talking and crying until 2 in the morning.  I got up the next morning and made the girls pancakes and had to get ready for work.  He was civil to me in front of the kids and then would whisper an insult.  I went to work and spent the day in my office with the door closed, trying to work but mostly sobbing. 

He called me mid-afternoon and said we needed to have a real talk, and I arranged for my sister to watch the girls that night for a few hours.  He and I went to the reservoir in town and walked around it for 2 hours.  All the anger had left him and he was confronted with the fact that he had been a shitty husband.  And that there is a real possibility that our marriage may be over.  That I've spent the last 12 years of my life trying to help him emotionally mature and there have only been baby steps on his part, and that I was fed up and tired.  We cried, we talked like friends.  Because we have been for the last 12 years and will always be very, very good friends.  He shocked me by saying he knew he needed individual therapy and that he was going to start going.  We are also in couples therapy because no matter how this turns out, we are NOT leaving our marriage with any issues between us that will cause our kids stress. 

Neither one of us knows what is going to happen.  But we have come to a place of honesty and communication, to the friendship that has always been our base.  We have committed to always being there as a united front for our girls. 

Marriage is weird.  I've always thought it was just one big leap of faith.  So should I ignore what's in my heart and plow along, and hope for the best?  We've been in therapy before with limited results, will this time be different?  Can working at a marraige long enough replace something that's not there, or do people just become complacent and get comfortable? 

I don't even have some of the answers.  For now I'm taking every day slowly, and trying to keep my eyes and heart open and believe that everything will work out exactly like it should.