On Parenting a 7-Year-Old Boy

  1. “No, you can’t have Halloween candy for breakfast.”
  2. “Why in the heck are you….no, you can’t eat cereal on the couch! Go sit at the kitchen table.”
  3. “Aww, I love you, too.”
  4. “GO STAND ON THE WALL!”
  5. “No flossing…yes, I know it’s just a dance move. I don’t care. I’m tired of watching it.”
  6. “Sure, you can ride your bike down the street. Look both ways before crossing…Hey! Come back and get your helmet!”
  7. “GO STAND ON THE WALL! NO ELECTRONICS FOR A WEEK!”
  8. “What are you eating? No, you can’t have those. Those are school snacks! I know you’re hungry- why do you think I’m standing in front of the stove, cooking? School snacks are expensive, and dinner’s almost ready. Put it back. I don’t care if it’s half-eaten, I’ll put it in a ziplock baggie and you can take it with you tomorrow.”
  9. “Quit flossing. If you flossed your teeth as much as you flossed your butt, you’d never have a cavity.”.
  10. “You had a bad dream? Go pee first, then come lay down. Yaaawwwwn. Night, sweetie. I love you, too.
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Two Year Olds

Things 2-year-olds understand:

  1. Making noise
  2. How to make the TV remote really sticky
  3. MINE!!!
  4. The fine art of scattering toys
  5. How to eat with a fork without actually getting any food in your mouth.

Things 2-year-olds do not understand:

  1. “I’ll be right back.”

And man, wouldn’t life be so much easier if they did?

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The Perfect Woman (Hint: Not Me)

Somewhere out there, in some magical corner of the planet, there is some woman who has a clean kitchen.

Her dishes are done, the counters are wiped, and the fridge doesn’t smell weird. Her kids are doing great.  Oh, sure, they squabble some, but they all feel loved, and because she does such a good job meeting all their little emotional needs they are secure enough to show that love to each other. She’s firm but not so hard on them that they become anxious, and she challenges them just enough while also nurturing them just enough. She checked all their homework, they have clean school clothes for tomorrow, their lunches are probably packed ahead of time.  I bet she even puts a little note in each lunchbox, so they know they’re loved.

She probably even wrote this post, because her kids never bring four bags of chips and a sandwich to school because she forgot to go to the store and that’s literally all she had to fill their lunch box with.

All of her kids take their bath, every night, and smell deliciously clean and have shiny hair.  They dress in matching pajamas, because they actually have clothes in their drawers instead of piled on a bed in the spare bedroom. She spent time tonight with each of them. She hugged and taught and sang with the little ones, focused on the middle one and made him feel noticed and appreciated all his accomplishments, and worked with the oldest on his math until he understood it and felt empowered and intelligent.

She had to take away their books to force them to get a good night’s sleep, because those little scoundrels love reading so much they’ll read all night under the covers with a flashlight.  They definitely aren’t addicted to YouTube or video games – not her kids! None of them are having any emotional crises this week, and they definitely don’t feel left out or ignored, because she gives exactly the same amount of time, attention, and love to each one of them. She definitely didn’t realize, just this exact moment, that one of them has a birthday in less than a week and she still hasn’t done a single thing to prepare for it.

The dinner she cooked tonight had a vegetable, and everybody ate it.

I bet she’s all caught up at work, too.  I bet every email is answered, and every file is alphabetized, and she totally doesn’t have a bazillion post-it notes all around the edges of the computer to remind her of stuff she’s been putting off.  Nobody is waiting on a callback from her.  She’s caught up on processing every single permit, and she has updated every single form. She’s dependable like that.

Her house is tidy.  It’s not spotless, because that would be creepy, but the entire thing is somewhat tidy all at once, instead of some rooms being super clean while other rooms look like a bomb went off. 

I bet it smells really good in her house, too.  I bet it smells like something lemony fresh, or maybe baked apples, and definitely not like dog, boy feet, the poop diaper she just changed, and cheap Wal-Mart scent wax that she’s burning in an attempt to cover the smell. 

You just know her floor is clean.  I bet you could sit down on it in white pants, and then get back up, and those pants would be the exact same color. You know there aren’t any piles of dog hair lining the walls, or giant mounds of clean laundry stacked next to the giant mounds of dirty laundry. She probably made time to exercise, and drink all her water, take a shower, pray, and read her Bible, and reach out to someone hurting and help them.

Her dog probably got walked, or brushed, or… or… or something.  I don’t know.  At this point I don’t even know what you’re supposed to be doing with a dog beyond letting it out to go potty, telling it to get off the couch for the millionth time in a row and feeling vaguely guilty and hoping the kids are petting it enough.  Whatever it is you’re supposed to do with a dog, I bet she’s doing it.  I bet that dog is totally fulfilled with its doggy life, and just having a grand ol’ time.

She probably brushed her horses, and picked their hooves, too.  She definitely didn’t try to sneak in a few minutes with her horses after literally locking her children in the backyard and tuning out the sounds of their sad wails at being unable to accompany her.  She would never do that.  She’s a super good mom. She treasures every moment.

Did you hear me?

SHE. TREASURES. EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT. OF. SINGLE. DAY.  She knows how much she’ll miss them once they’re gone, so even when they’re screaming at her from the backyard, or arguing with their brother, or toddling their way into the bathroom while she’s pooping and then getting angry when she won’t let them crouch down to watch it come out, SHE TREASURES IT.

And so she does. She’s never once told her kids “JUST GO AWAY AND LET ME BE BY MYSELF FOR A SECOND. SERIOUSLY. SCAT!” That would be so hurtful to their poor little psyches. Only a mean mom would do that.

I bet her hair is brushed, and her toenails painted, and her eyebrows plucked.  She probably flosses twice a day, too.  I bet her husband feels loved and appreciated and she never snaps at him because she’s taking her feelings of failure out on him. They definitely have a totally banging sex life that any teenager would envy because they’re both bursting with energy and in great shape and super flexible and never feel too tired or too fat or just too exhausted.

Yoga would be too much – with as awesome as she is in other areas, it’d push her over into pretentiousness.  I think she probably just runs in the mornings before her kids are up  does pilates from an old DVD at home, or something, and it must work because she is still really athletic and never grunts when getting up from a chair.

I bet she smells good, and I bet she’s not sitting on her sofa in really old plus size overalls that she put on to muck stalls and then got too lazy to take off.  She would never sit on the sofa in overalls that smelled vaguely of horse pee.  I mean…. ew, right?

She’s probably on her laptop, but she’s probably not writing a book.  See, she’s taking a break from writing right now, because she just turned in the a finished draft of her latest book to her publisher and is enjoying her well-deserved break.  She’s good like that – she sets writing goals and absolutely finishes them on time, and enjoys people paying for her books and the joy of knowing she’s a published author.

She probably has the best time on the weekends, too.  I bet she does cool things like going to community events with her family, or impromptu road trips, or paint nights with friends that she still has because she’s great at reaching out to people and hanging out on a regular basis.  She’s probably going hiking – wait, no, I bet she’s going backpacking with her kids this next weekend.  She and her family definitely don’t spend too much time watching Netflix.  I mean, what a waste of precious time that would be, amiright?

Pfffft, that woman doesn’t need Summer Sanders to tell her this, cuz she’s already out there doing it…. EVERY NIGHT.

She probably makes time to go camping with her family, and calls her parents regularly, and takes her kids to museums so they turn out well-rounded.

She didn’t volunteer anywhere today – she does that on Thursdays.  She does that on Thursdays because she has a calendar, and plans ahead, and definitely doesn’t decide what she’s doing 45 seconds before she actually has to leave the house.

That planning probably comes in handy when it comes to budgeting.  I bet she has a nice tidy little savings account, and knows when and where all her money goes,  definitely doesn’t waste money she doesn’t have on expensive coffees she chugs to get through the day, doing her best to ignore the fact that while the money is there in the bank, it’s not actually there, you know?  I mean, that would be really fiscally irresponsible.  If she did that, she wouldn’t be able to afford her kids music lessons or the entry fees to sports, and they’d probably just hang out in her backyard all the time and grow up weird and socially awkward.

I bet she’s out there, being amazing, and just genuinely rocking at life.

I hope she stays out there, too, because if I have to see her in real life I’m going to feel really grumpy end up doing something I’d regret, like let my ill-behaved, too-friendly dog jump on her with muddy paws, or maybe sic my socially awkward, semi-feral children on her well-rounded kids, or maybe just leap on her and let my extra weight pin her to my filthy floor and demand to know where she’s finding all the hours in the day.

Lies! This image is pure lies!…. Okay, maybe not pure lies. There is only one person in that image, and that is kind of how I remember my early 20’s. being.

 

 

More realistic:

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Reverie’s Arrival

Holy moly, I’m tired.

I have that rag-doll, boneless feeling I only get when I’ve been living on a giant adrenaline surge and suddenly it’s all over with.

It’s a little premature to be celebrating, but I’m gonna go there anyways:

Three cheers for Plaquenil! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! HIP HIP HOORAY!

It’s the miracle drug that keeps my rheumatoid arthritis at bay when I have adrenaline dumps like this (if you didn’t know, adrenaline dumps/stress does to rheumatoid arthritis what gasoline does to a fire.) I could feel my body trying all week to rev up into a GIANT flare, but it just never seemed to get any traction and by this morning the pain was dissipating.

Reverie is doing well – she’s settling in and grazing calmly next to Caspian in the stall beside her, and only occasionally leaving her food to pace at the front of her stall. Caspian acts like he’s in love – this is the second time this has happened, so I’m beginning to suspect that he just genuinely likes young horses more than he likes adult horses.

(UPDATE: I wrote the above on Wednesday. It’s Thursday now, and Reverie is already totally settled in.)

(ANOTHER UPDATE: Now it’s Friday. It’s like she has always lived here.)

(ANOTHER ANOTHER UPDATE: whoops, it’s Saturday. I forgot to proofread this last night.)

As far as how it went on the night she arrived…..

We’ll fast forward past me rushing home and running around trying to get everything just right – filling the water in the barn, making sure there were enough shavings, spreading a little hay, etc, etc.

We’ll fast forward past the sight of the truck/trailer pulling into the driveway and the way our yard exploded with cries of “She’s here! She’s here!” and “Quick, get that bike out-of-the-way!” and “Mom, she’s here!” and “Hey, quit yelling and move Magpie over there! NO, DON’T SIT ON THE GROUND RIGHT OUTSIDE THE TRAILER, DON’T YOU HAVE ANY SENSE?”

We’ll fast forward past the way she just calmly stepped off the trailer like she’s been doing it her whole life, and the way she led right into the stall with her mom, and settled right down….

….and we’ll start with the point where they loaded Sparkle up into the trailer and started to pull out onto the road.

See, although they did some separation leading up to the initial weaning, we decided to “pull the plug” on weaning here at my house. Sure, it might make ruin the whole first night romance of the arrival of my dream horse, but it was probably kinder to Reverie in the long run. When foals can hear their mom answering weaning takes a lot longer, so we decided to do the final separation over here.

I spent a lot of time going over the stall, making sure there were no loose bolts, or jagged wood bits, or anything that might hurt Reverie. I thought initially about letting her be in the big paddock, but immediately discarded that idea. I figured a panicked foal had no business running around at full speed – she’d just hurt herself. I knew she would flip out when she realized she’d be left behind, and I was right.

What I hadn’t planned for was the way she would be so darn athletic about her despair.

Even before the trailer left the property Reverie was whinnying and freaking out, but as soon as it disappeared around the corner, Reverie was all, “Welp. They’re obviously not coming back, so it’s up to me to follow”, and up she went on her hind legs…..

…and over she went, or rather tried to go. Right over the 5 foot tall gate.

She didn’t QUITE make it all the way over, but she was close….. DARN close. I had to run forward and push her back over the top of the gate so I could enter the stall and attach a lead rope.

The closest I can come to explaining what she did was to show this video, which is took after she calmed down, during one of my “is it safe for me to go inside the house for 30 seconds?”

The video wont embed, so here’s a link to it on Facebook.

The answer is no – no it was NOT safe. This was one of her less athletic attempts.

On a braggy side note…. man, I love how much of a thinker she is. If you’ll notice, she’s not frantic, she didn’t lose her head- she’s just bound and determined to escape.

I had the boys lead in Carrots and put her in the stall next to us. Carrots is always so steady – she rarely spooks, and she has a calming influence on both Caspian and Jupiter when he was with us. She’s low man on the totem pole, and the worst thing she ever does is to halfheartedly pin her ears at Caspian whenever he starts acting like an alpha jerk.

She’s so easy-going and friendly and placid, I figured she’d be the perfect stall mate to calm down Reverie. Caspian likes all horses, but he can be reactive, and the last thing I needed was a horse spooking whenever Reverie whirled around her stall. Carrots would be a good influence.

Boy did I think wrong.

Carrots – my sweet, innocent, never-pins-her-ears, never-has-anything-but-a-sweet-expression-on-her-sweet-little-face little pony face turned into the chestnut pony mare from hell.

“I’m scared and lonely, won’t you be my frien- WHOA I guess not.”

She pinned her ears and made horrible squealing noises every time any time Reverie stuck her nose through the fence for a sniff. She glared malevolently as she chewed her hay, and even rushed the fence a couple of times when Reverie leaned too close.

I would have told the boys to replace her with Caspian…..

But by that point, I was all by myself.

I had locked the twins in the fenced portion of the backyard for safety before we removed Sparkle, much to their wailing distress. The boys weren’t much better. They were vibrating with nerves, running around frantically as they tried to help out and we tried to calm Reverie down, but they were only making things worse. Eventually I told them, “Look, just go inside. I have to hold Reverie until I can figure something out or get ahold of someone who can help me. Bring the twins with you, and get them some dinner. Turn something on the TV to keep them out of trouble.”

Since they are 7 and 9 years old, they interpreted that as, “Ask the twins if they want to go inside. When the twins OF COURSE say ‘no’, respect their decision and just go inside yourselves and watch your own TV shows for as long as you want.”

So there I was, stuck outside in the barn, holding a nervous weanling on a lead rope inside a stall, and literally no way to fix anything. Nobody was home. Nobody was answering phone calls, I had accidentally deleted my neighbor’s phone number, nobody was answering FB messenger, anyone who was home and had the knowledge to help me was too far away to be of any use, and I was quietly freaking out. If I let go of the lead rope and tried to go to a neighbor it was pretty much a guarantee that either Reverie would make it over the fence and gallop straight out onto a very busy road, or she would hurt herself trying. I was stuck holding her in the stall.

To make matters worse, I had two year old twins standing in my backyard, screaming like they’d been set on fire, with zero adult supervision. At first the twins were crying because they FURIOUS I had locked them in the backyard away from the fun….

….and then, as the minutes turned into half an hour, and the half an hour turned into an hour straight of me “ignoring” them while I was in the barn, they moved beyond furious to absolutely distraught. The sun was sinking lower in the sky, they were obviously abandoned, and the wolves were going to eat them. Worst of all, their cold, heartless, no-good mother was ignoring their screams for help.

It was a real, super good, super fun time standing in that stall with the screaming baby horse, listening to the screaming baby humans, and not being able to do anything about either situation.

I tried half a dozen times to call for the older boys, but it’s about 250 feet from the house to the barn, and either they couldn’t hear me over the sound of the TV, or they couldn’t hear me over the sound of the screaming twins.

I couldn’t leave Reverie. While she was fairly calm with me in the stall, the second I unhooked her, she would immediately try to escape.

Do you know what was even worse than her rearing up and trying to scrabble over? It was the way she thoughtfully eyed the gate. Whenever I would take off the lead rope she would approach the gate, rear up and consider trying to scrabble over….. and then she would drop back down, eyeball the gate thoughtfully, and back up slowly with firm, determined footfalls until her back end was pressed tight against the gate.

She was very, very obviously considering jumping the gate.

If she had about 10 feet more of running room (my stalls are only 12 x 12), or if that gate was about 2-3 inches lower, I’m pretty sure she would have tried it. She was not frantic at all as she assessed the gate height – she obviously thought it was within the realm of possibility.

The fencing in the paddock was no-climb horse fencing, but the idea of turning her loose in a large area seemed like a bad idea. I could just see her hurting herself in her frantic run around an unfamiliar area.

It was a long, long hour.

Now that it’s all over I’ve thought of a half a dozen people I could have called who would have been willing to come out and lend me a hand, but at the time I was just too stressed out.

Of course, I realized immediately that I could have called Kathleen back, and that was definitely in the back of my head as a last-resort. She’s the kind of person who would have shown up and helped. It’s just… my pride was in the way. There’s something a little wrong about “Hey, breeder, would you please entrust me with one of your precious babies?” and then thirty minutes later “HALLLLLP MEEEEE I’M OVERWHELMED AND INEPT!”

I almost didn’t want to share the whole story, because when you’re honest on the internet about messing up or struggling with horses (or kids) it’s kind of like standing on top of a giant hill with a megaphone and declaring “EVERYONE TELL ME YOUR OPINION, RIGHT NOW.”

Some days it’s useful, and people are kind, and I learn a lot.

Some days people are less kind, and it just makes a hard situation more overwhelming.

Eventually DragonMonkey came out to check on me, and to offer to make me dinner. I swear, I’ve never been so happy to see his scrawny, barefoot little self picking his way through the crunchy autumn grass. I could have kissed him – in fact, I think I did. I was able to direct him into gathering supplies for me, and eventually I figured out a fix.

It did the job immediately – with that barrier in place she stopped eyeballing the jump, and settled for pacing the front of the stall and sniffing along the bottom.

I sat down at last into a folding chair I’d placed inside the barn to watch her and make sure the fix was going to hold, and also because she seemed to really take comfort in me being near her. In that time period I also managed to get the boys to lure the twins inside and feed them some microwaved taquitos, so the whole affair became a lot less stressful.

At one point I noticed Reverie nosing the salt block I had tied between the stalls. Carrots rushed the stall and banged it with her chest, her ears pinned and her teeth gaping savagely, and Reverie sprang back and resumed her nervous pacing and occasional calling for her mother.

Do you know who deserves salt blocks? Sweet, orphaned foals, and not savage, stall-rushing, ugly-faced red-headed ponies.

I entered Carrots’ stall, and Carrots moved politely out of my way, turning to the side to return to her hay pile. Well, if Carrots wasn’t going to share, I was going to tie the salt block in Reverie’s stall. Maybe she’d find some comfort in licking it, in between nervous laps in the stall?

Carrots was standing diagonally to me, and I was right by her hip, in the “marginal sight” blind spot.

As I started untying the salt block, Reverie stopped her laps and crowded close to me on the other side of the stall, pressing against the bars for comfort.

There was a rush of movement as Carrots whirled, I caught a glimpse of orange, and then the next thing I knew my arm HURT and Carrots had bounded away to the complete opposite end of the stall with an OH CRAP, nervous expression on her face.

I don’t think she actually set out to bite me, I really don’t. I think she thought Reverie was messing with the salt block again, whirled around to bite her, and then when I was in the way just kind of mindlessly bit whatever was closest, which happened to be my left arm.

But you know what?

I don’t care. That’s almost worse.

She has one purpose on this farm, and that’s to be a steady, reliable, zero drama pony for the kids. She will never have to ride 100 miles in a day, or race barrels or ride dressage, or be yanked on with a curb bit or ride rollkhur. She has ONE purpose- be kind and patient with kids… and thus far, she’s done her job BEAUTIFULLY. She has yet to really spook, she leads along behind the twins one tiny, mincing step at a time, she lets the kids take FOREVER as they learn how to clean a hoof, and although she’s kind of green under saddle with an independent rider, she’s the best leadline pony I’ve ever been around.

I just couldn’t believe she bit me. She BIT me. How dare she?!

I felt like some kind of Jersey housewife that walked in on her husband of 20 years with a stripper in their bed. I say Jersey housewife because there was NOTHING classy about my response. I’m not even sure I was speaking English. I think I was trying to cuss, but it just came out in gibberish. I was channeling my inner Ralphie, screaming out my rage as I chased her around the stall and tried to kick her in the belly.

via GIPHY

After a couple of seconds I realized that it was time to stop, even though I didn’t really want to. My rule is that any time a horse kicks or bites our of meanness (even if they only try to) you you have about three seconds to rain hellfire down on their soul with no holds barred, and then you are supposed to shut it off.

Of course, I say that’s my rule, but none of my horses have ever been ill behaved enough to do that. *I* would never own a horse like that, or be lax enough in my discipline that they would even try.

Image result for my kids will never

I stood there, panting, glaring, wishing I could throw a rock at Carrots, or maybe a brick, or maybe smash a broom handle over her stupid, orange, “I-think-it’s-okay-to-bite-people” head.

Carrots stood in the corner, tail clamped, poised for another lap around the stall as she waited to see what I was going to do next. I came back to my senses and glanced over at Reverie, who had stopped pacing her stall and was standing in the center, head raised super high, eyes wide. She looked like she just stepped off the cover of Morgan Horse news.

Awesome. Just AWESOME.

My dream horse, the horse I’d been waiting for my entire life, had just witnessed me trying to kill her stallmate.

Great.

Perfect.

Image result for sarcastic way to go

I stomped over to the salt lick, untied it, and then stomped over to the gate to let myself out. Carrots slid submissively out of my bubble long before I got near to her, which was fine by me. If I’d had a pack of wolves, I would have happily fed her to them.

I went around into the hay area, tied the salt rock in Reverie’s stall and then threw myself down in a folding lawn chair and tried to stuff my bad temper back away deep down inside me.

I glanced at the bruise Carrots had left on my arm, but it wasn’t very big.

24 hours later, f course, it was much more impressive looking:

In one of those “Okay, I understand with my brain but will never truly understand with my heart” moments, screaming and cussing and trying to beat a pony to death caused both horses to relax.

Horses, man.

I mean, if I’d adopted a child, brought them home, and then within a hour of bringing them home they watched me chase DragonMonkey around the house, trying to beat them over the head with a frying pan, it would not relax them.

But that’s horses for you. You could see them both visibly breathe out in relief. “Ahhhh, how comforting. There’s a horrible, witchy, alpha mare looking out for us.”

Reverie went from calling for her mom every few seconds to just calling every once in awhile, even stopping every once in a long while to snatch the occasional bite of hay or let me scratch on her before she resumed pacing the front of the stall, staring out to where the trailer disappeared with Sparkle.

Carrots turned her butt to Reverie and proceeded to ignore her for a long time before she finally resumed eating dinner.

After about half an hour she decided enough time had passed and she was allowed to take offense again. When Reverie passed by too close she pinned her ears and snaked her head around towards Reverie.

EHHHHHHHH-EH-EH-EH-EH. DON’T YOU EVEN *(&@*!!&$# THINK OF IT, YOU HORRIBLE LITTLE GREMLIN.”

And she immediately unpinned her ears and settled back down to her food.

Eventually I went inside.

When the Bean came home (it’s tax season so he’s rarely home before dark) he asked, “So, was it everything you dreamed it would be?…..What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

I slept poorly that night – terrified that my fix wouldn’t hold and that Reverie would break free and gallop into oncoming traffic.

Also, my arm hurt.

STUPID PONY.

The next morning I switched out Carrots for Caspian, who immediately fell absolutely head over heels in love with Reverie. He snuffled her softly, ears pricked, oozing contentment.

This is the second time this has happened, and I’m beginning to suspect that Caspian just really likes young horses. I wish I’d put him in there from the start. Oh, well. Live and learn?

Reverie has already settled down. It took 28 hours for her to forget about her mom – I doubt it would be quite so quick if she’d been able to hear Sparkle calling back.

I called my stepdad, and he dropped everything to come out and help me install an electric fence. Of course, by “help me install” I mean I told him where I wanted to place it, and the ideas I had, and he installed the entire thing by himself while I was at work.

Kathleen sent me several follow up messages, along with some great advice, and her husband was even kind of to offer to come out and help me start putting up the electric fence.

It felt kind of empowering to be able to say “Actually, it’s already halfway done,” even if the empowerment came from, “because I totally threw all of my pride in the trash and asked my dad for help.”

The relief I felt as the fence went up felt almost like a physical sensation. It feels SO GOOD not to have to worry about her charging out into the street any more.

I’m looking forward to her first turnout, which will be tomorrow. It’s really hard to get a good picture of her in the stall, and I look forward to watching her move.

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It’s Due Date Time

Reverie comes home today, which makes me excited enough that I’ve almost forgotten how tired I am.

About two weeks ago I put Magpie into a new, unwashed shirt and she ended up with a rash. It’s not surprising – she has the kind of skin that Victorian England women would have swooned to have, but that’s not very practical in real life. I gave her a bath and put her to bed.

By the next morning the rash had spread all over the place, and she had scratched herself bloody during the night. I called in to work and drove her to the doctor’s….

And discovered she had scarlet fever.

Pardon my ignorance, but I had no idea scarlet fever was still a thing.

Antibiotics and Benadryl made her comfortable. The doctor recommended we stay home and keep her out of daycare for 24-48 hours, and after reading about how serious scarlet fever can be if it doesn’t get treated, I opted for the full 48.

On Wednesday I was just getting ready to load everyone up into the car to head to church, when DragonMonkey broke down into tears, out of nowhere, over something really weird. With a sinking feeling I asked him to stick out his tongue… and yup. It was spotty.

One trip to urgent care later, I now had 3 of my 4 children down with scarlet fever. Sigh.

I stayed home and made it in to work on Friday.

I woke up with a sore throat on Sunday, and Finn was unusually tear-filled, and somewhere in the middle of church I put two and two together. I dragged my plague infested family out of church mid service and headed to the urgent care.

Finn was positive for the scarlet fever strep virus, but I was in the clear. I chalked it up to allergies, or just being tired.

I spent most of Monday home with Finn, but Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were spent frantically trying to catch up at work, at home, with the pets, with the cooking, etc., etc., etc.

Thursday I woke up exhausted. My sore throat had never gone away, and seemed to be getting worse. I felt ground down, empty. At lunch went to the Thai Food place next door and got myself a hot coconut Tom Kha soup. Whenever I have a scratchy throat or feel a little sick, there’s nothing quite like spicy Tom Kha to set everything right.

Only… only it didn’t work at all. Thursday afternoon dragged by, and the more the minutes went by, the sicker I felt.

By the time I came home, I told the kids to feed themselves and just curled up on the couch under a blanket. The Bean wasn’t home until almost 8 pm, and by then I had a fever of 102 and was feeling too sick to make the almost hour-long drive to urgent care.

By 2 am I really regretted not making that drive, because my “my throat really hurts” had morphed into “Yeah, this hurts as appendicitis, and I can’t think through this pain”. Gargling didn’t help, Tylenol barely touched it, and I spent the rest of the night just lying there in bed waiting for the sun to rise so I could go to the doctor.

I didn’t have scarlet fever – I had generic old strep throat, so I stayed home on Friday and waited for the antibiotics to kick in.

The thing is, I’ve never been sick like I was sick this time. I know it sounds all hand flappy, but I really think this was one of those illnesses that would have taken me down in the 1800s, without antibiotics. Usually after 24 hours on antibiotics, I feel great…. But this time I could actually feel the strep throat fighting against the antibiotics, and worst of all, almost winning. I’d take a 500 mg amoxicillin, the sore throat would get better… and then after about 3-4 hours, right before I was due to take another one, the sore throat would ramp back up, and I could actively feel myself getting sick again.

It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that the antibiotics finally built up enough and I felt myself getting better.

Of course, as ALWAYS HAPPENS EVERY TIME I GET SICK, I was also contacted by more than one person and offered the chance to do some writing jobs. Normally when that happens I’m ecstatic, but I was sick…. And to top it off, a couple of months ago the twins had pushed our old Chromebook off the table and dashed it on the ground, so between then and now I’ve been doing all of my writing on my cell phone, which is about as much fun as a root canal.

Halfway through tip-tapping the project out on my phone aching with fever and strep throat, I texted the Bean. “Walmart has a sale on a cheap Chromebook for $149. I *am* buying it. Where is the emergency credit card?”

The rest of the typing went off without a hitch. It’s amazing how much better I can think with a keyboard under my fingers.

Yesterday was spent frantically running around like a…. well, like this year’s birthday card:

The boys missed the bus in the morning, I was late to work because I had to drop them off, and when the moment I got off a full day at work it felt like I was off to the races.  I had to run home, feed horses, drop off my kids, and then head right back out to pick up someone else’s kids and and dash off to Portland, albeit for the best of reasons: they had a new baby brother to meet.

Babies never used to be my thing, but now that I’ve had four of my own, I really enjoy other people’s newborns, and watching the kids’ faces as they met their new sibling – the pure joy in their reaction, was totally worth the drive. Besides, there’s a chemical rush that happens in my brain whenever I smell that new baby smell, and I’m not just saying that. It’s an actual, proven, scientific thing in some people. Little bitty baby squeaks turn me into one of those mares that runs the fence line and tires to steal other mares foals. It’s only with the little bitty babies though – once they gain the ability to look around and sit up and crawl and be mobile, I don’t get any urge to steal them from people.

In addition to helping out a friend, one of the best parts about meeting the baby was what was waiting for me in a plastic bin in the corner of her room:  Her placenta!

I know, it sounds gross.  Trust me, I’m still not into eating them, even if I had asked her to give it to me.  Also, in case you’re curious, there really isn’t a non-creepy way to ask for people’s used body parts, even if it is for a good cause.

I tossed the placenta, the umbilical cord, and her kids into the car, drove them back to her ex husband’s house, and then headed up to Rainier where I met up in the parking lot and traded the placenta for a brand new weanling horse halter.

I agonized over what color to get her. Don’t laugh.

Okay, it was less weird than that. Mika had offered to pick up the halter from the tack store before it closed, and I offered to transport the placenta so she could take it with her to train her (and other people’s) Search and Rescue Dogs for emergencies. I mean, if you’re going to train dogs to hunt for bodies, you need to train them with actual body parts.

If you are wondering what to do with your kids’ old teeth or any other body parts you have laying around, may I recommend contacting your local SAR dog group and offering it to them?

I drove back home, went to sleep, woke up, cooked a pound of bacon to start the day off right, fed the horses, got the kids off to school, came back inside……

Where I found The Bean completely immobilized, having thrown out his back. Together we managed to get him settled into a chair with a hot water bottle where he grimaced and stayed frozen until the pounds of Tylenol and Ibuprofen I poured into him began to take effect.

I put my foot down for the first time ever on him riding the motorcycle to work, so we transferred the twins’ car seats into our project car (The Bean fixes cars in his spare time… hahahahahaha…. “spare time”. That’s a good one. But seriously, he’s a crazy good mechanic.)

The twins were horrified. In retrospect, I don’t think they’ve ever been in any car but Jean Claude Damn Van. Finn was genuinely confused at the sight of his car seat in another car, and Magpie froze like a spooking horse and almost refused to go in. I was running late to work again, so maybe I could have led them through it a little nicer, but I was feeling frantic as I watched the minutes tick by. Eventually I coaxed them both into their car seat.

As I mentioned, the Civic is a project car so I drove it slowly and carefully, treating it like it was made of glass. It made for a very long, noisy ride. The car itself wasn’t noisy…. It was the twins.

“GO FASSER!”

“Finn, I’m not going faster.”

“GO FASSER, RIGHT NOW. PEASE. GO FASSER!”

“No, Finn, I’m not going faster. Don’t order me around with ‘right now’, either. It’s rude.”

“New car? New car? I wide new car New car? I wide new car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car—“

“GO FASSER!”

“New car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car? New car?” Ne-“

“Yes, Magpie, you are riding in a new car.”

“Gank You, Mami. Gank you, wide new car.”

“You’re welcome, Magpie, for letting you ride in a new car..”

“GO FASSER? GO FASSER, PEASE?”

“No, Finn, I’m not going faster.”

“Whassat?”

“Magpie, that’s a sun roof. See? This car has a sun roof.”

“Sun woof?”

“Yes, Magpie.”

“WOW. BOOFUL!”

“Yes, it’s beautiful, Finn. It is nice having a sun roof in a car.”

“Dis car have sun woof? Sun woof? Dis car have sun woof? Sun woof? Sun woof? Sun woof? Sun woof? Sun woof? Sun woof? Sun woof? Sun woof? Sun woof? Sun woof? Sun woof? Sun woo–”

“YESSS! YES, MAGPIE. YES, THIS CAR HAS A SUN ROOF.”

“Gank you, Mami. Gank you sun woof, Mami.”

“Great, now I feel guilty. Sigh. You’re welcome, sweetie, for the sun roof.”

“GO FASSER? GO FASSER? PEASE GO FASSER?”…..

Etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Guys, they’re cute, but sometimes…. Sometimes listening to two year old twins on repeat makes my brain feel like it’s liquefying.

Anyways, Reverie will be here in a few hours. I still need to finish my work day, stop by the credit union to empty it out for the final payment, drive to daycare and get all four kids, and then go home.

The plan is to trailer Reverie with her mom, load them into the stalls until Reverie settles in a little bit and we get the paperwork done, and then Kathleen will take Sparkle home and Reverie will be mine.

I’d like to say I’m relaxed and comfortable with the concept, but I’m kind of freaking out on the inside. I wanted to have the barn clean, and all the winter’s hay loaded up, and tons of shavings, and understand everything about foal nutrition and be a foal training expert and have all my tack lined up all pretty, and my barn scrubbed and shiny and ready and, and, and…

Well, I guess they say you should begin as you mean to go on, so….

Wish me luck, guys.

HERE I GO.

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It’s Cuss Jar Time Again

“What da he**, it a bus! Look, a bus! Oh, what da he**. A bus!”

“What da he**. I stuck. What da he**, Mama. Help me, I stuck. What da he**!”

“I wan’ watch Sing. Wanna watch Sing, Mama. What da he**! What da he**, Mama? I wanna watch Sing. “

“What da he**, Mama. I wan milk. Oh, wat da he**, Mama. Uh oh! Uh oh! Milk fall down! Uh oh! Oh… Oh, da he**! Da milk fall down!”

After listening to Finn for the past week, I’ve come to the conclusion that I either need to get a Swear Jar in my house, or I need to start cussing more creatively.

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First Day of School Nostalgia

Tuesday was the first day of school.

It was more than a little bittersweet to me. This was the first summer in Oregon I didn’t spend home with the boys, and I feel almost like the whole season almost passed me by. When you don’t get home until 5:30 and jump straight into frantically cooking dinner for hangry children, bedtime and nighttime and getting up to get ready for work the next morning is on you before you know it.

On the other hand, Oregon did her best to make it feel as summery as possible to try to make up for it, so maybe fall isn’t such a bad thing. We had almost no rain from May on, and the whole state seems dry and crackly. Local parks lost quite a few older trees due to the overly dry summers, and the ground feels hard-baked beneath my feet.

I may not be ready for the return of the rain, but the land certainly is, and I can’t begrudge it the moisture.

Anyways, as I was saying, Tuesday was the first day of school which always makes me feel more than a little nostalgic. I remember lining up in front of my mom’s camera with its shutterclick sound, bright flash, and the roll of film that would wind itself up at the end of every spool. First day of school pictures are a yearly tradition.

As I dragged everyone outside into the nicer light to take my own pictures, DragonMonkey dutifully dropped his backpack on the ground and walked over to the designated picture-taking area. “Why do we have to do this every year?”

“Because….. because it makes a nice collage when you’re all done. I can see how you looked at the beginning of each year. I have first day pics of me, all the way up until my first day of college.

He lined up in front of the wall in front of our house, and reached for his yellow piece of construction paper with the hastily-written words in cheap marker. “If we’re… if we’re still doing this in college, do you think that maybe…. I mean, not to hurt your feelings, but maybe we could get nicer signs instead of paper?”

Present Becky is always willing to make promises on Future Becky’s behalf, so I was quick to agree. Future Becky would totally make one of those awesome, color-coordinated, sturdy Pinterest-style signs.

Future Becky is a chump.

I raised my cell phone, and DragonMonkey threw on his customary closed-mouth smirk smile that he always does for pictures, the one that makes him look disturbingly teenagerish.

After that it was Squid’s turn – I say Squid because that’s what I’ve called him on this blog since the beginning (when he was a Squidgelet), but he’s recently informed us that we are not to refer to him by that nickname anymore. In fact, we are not to refer to him by any nicknames. He will only respond to his full name.

I raised my cell phone, and he tilted his head back, looking at me with the heavy-lidded cool-dude expression he always likes to don for pictures.

“Squid, can’t you open your eyes a little bit more? I can barely see your eyes. You don’t have to smile if you don’t want to, but just open your eyes a little mo—“

“Bus,” intoned the Bean. “BUS!”

I snapped another picture in desperation:

And then kissed them as they dashed down the street, their backpacks rising and falling with each stride.

Like I said, first days of school always makes me feel nostalgic, and as I drove to work my brain rattled down familiar roads. Am I doing enough, as a mom? Am I being there enough, helping enough, loving enough, challenging and pushing enough, educating enough? Am I screwing any of them up? Have I already screwed them up beyond repair? Will they turn into adults I actually like, ones I am proud of? What can I improve on?

It was that last thought that trapped my brain. If you have multiple children, it’s not an easy answer. Every kid is unique. Even if I could wave a magic wand and change myself, each of my kids would want something different from me.

If DragonMonkey could reshape me, I think he’d turn me into the quintessential Pinterest mom. I’d rise before dawn in a wrinkle-free, coordinated outfit, and cook a couple of pounds of bacon and pancakes. I’d wake him with a hug and a tickle and invite him to feast while I washed all the breakfast dishes myself, and then he would get dressed and I’d spend the rest of the day chauffeuring him around to new experiences. Our days would be scheduled, right down to the minute, and there would be few surprises. Everything would be planned out (well in advance) with professional-looking calendars and well-packed gym bags for soccer games and playdates (are they still called playdates at his age? Probably not.) Upon returning home I’d miraculously produce a hearty, healthy, meat-and-vegetable dinner within minutes. After dinner we would play a light round of video games.

It sounds exhausting, but he would be so, so content.

Also, he would want me to have super long, super straight hair. I dunno. It’s just a thing with him.

What would Squid want?

Squid would want me to be Elsa:

only I’d be Elsa with a machine gun.

It be only me and him, no other siblings around, and we would have amazing adventures where we would shoot guns and rappel down walls and help people. At the end of each adventure he would heroically save us all, and most likely I would present him with a nightly medal he could hang on his wall. We’d feast all day on ice cream and sodas and candy.

My hair would also be long, and I would never cut it, because cutting hair is pretty much the same as ruining everything about yourself forever and ever. I’d be a crack shot with a rifle, and always have on fresh lipstick.

I’m not gonna lie, aside from the whole makeup thing and wearing a dress, I think I’d have a lot of fun in Squid’s World.

If I’m being honest, the twins would probably love to change me too. Finn’s imaginary mom is the easiest to understand – I didn’t even have to think very hard to know what he would want.

Finn would very much like it if I could stop being me, and just figure out a way to be The Bean, except with boobies.

Seriously.

He would be SO content if I could just figure out a way to make this happen. Also, my/ Bean’s boobies would still be producing copious amounts of milk that never ran out, and Finn would still be able to nurse all day. The two of them would live on a tractor, alternating all day between nursing and doing tractor-type stuff.

I’m pretty sure if Finn was in charge of heaven, that’s all it would be: Heavily-lactating, giant-boobed men on a variety of different tractors.

You can see why I’d rather be stuck in Squid’s world, right?

Magpie is a harder nut to crack, because she’s so quiet with her wants. I know she would like to have Mommy/daughter time without any pesky brothers around. In her imaginary mom world I would be a fashion diva, and we would both dress up constantly.

Please understand that by dress up I don’t mean we would wearing tasteful evening gowns with sensible heels – oh no. Magpie’s version of dressing up consists of layering accessories upon accessories… and also, do you know what makes an accessory really pop? Another accessory.

The two of us would adorn ourselves like real-life Fancy Nancies:

and then we would spend quite a bit of time just sitting around pointing out each other’s amazing outfits. Earrings. Yes, earrings. I am wearing earrings. You have sparkly shoes. Yes, yes you do. I do, too.

We would admire each other’s glasses, frequently.

Wherever we went each day, it would not be in a car pointed in the direction of home, because oh lawsie, “NOT DAT WAY. NOT DAT WAY. NO HOME… NOT DAT WAY.” She’s an adventuring sort at heart.

She’s not very particular about what we would do, provided we do it together, but if I had to come up with something I think we would spend the entire day swinging on swings at the park, trying on different pairs of shoes, and maybe riding a pony. We’d have a collection of items we dragged around, from Purple Bow Dog to Rattle Elephant, and we would very systematically rearrange them around ourselves wherever we went.

We would hold hands, a lot. We’d practice number facts, and sing the ABC’s and “Tinka Tinka Widdah Stah” over, and over, and over. And over.

And over, and over, and over, and over.

Also, we would feast on .99 cent bagged salad from Safeway, because she’s kind of weird that way.

Maybe it’s for the best that the kids can’t rearrange me to suit their desires… It’s exhausting just imagining it.

In other news: Reverie isn’t coming home until closer to the end of the month, which I’m thrilled about. I can definitely use another week or so to get things ready for her.

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Getting ready for Reverie

I introduced the twins to Reverie yesterday.

I figured it was time, since she’s going to be coming home in less than a month (GACK!). I didn’t want the first time she saw a pair of loud, hyper two-year-olds to take place during the stress of her move.  There’s enough craziness at our place that every day is a lesson in desensitizing:  kids on trampolines waving towels over their heads, flying kites over the paddock, wagons full of shrieking children being pulled all over by a hyper Labrador….

If I can take any steps ahead of time to make her transition to Bean Acres easier, I definitely want to.

In case you were curious, the answer to “How many people actually refer to it as Bean Acres?” is still “just Becky”. Even when I do use it, it’s usually only in my head.  There’s something about naming your property and then saying it out loud that feels a teensy bit pretentious, like you’re talking about yourself in third person.

Well, I don’t care. I’m going to keep calling it Bean Acres, in hopes that one day it will catch on.

Of course if really wanted everyone to call it by a name, I could probably should have named our home FartFartPoopFart Acres.

And if you don’t understand why that is, then I congratulate you, because you aren’t living in a house filled with mostly males. Seriously. I will never understand why farts are so unbelievably funny.

Anyways, I had a few minutes in between getting off of work and showing up at the house to get started on dinner, so I decided to stop by and see if I could say hi to Reverie, and scratch on her a little bit.

There have been times when I’ve come to see her she was waaaaay out on the back side of 20 acres and all I could see was a tiny brownish speck next to a larger brownish speck, but lately Kathleen has been putting her in a shady paddock during the day, to protect her incredibly sensitive pink nose.

I foresee a lot of Destin/long-nosed fly masks in our future.

Luckily for me, Reverie and her mom (Sparkle) were hanging right by where I normally park, so it didn’t take very long to find them.

Reverie was very, VERY interested in the twins, almost to the point of spooking. It didn’t help that Finn was in a hyper mood and kept jumping rather than walking, and that Magpie had dragged along the singing puppy she takes with her everywhere.

 

His (apparently it’s a boy?) name is Doggie PurpleBow, and bless the makers that gave him an off switch that’s easy to switch off but hard for toddlers to find.

Seriously, thank you. There are only so many times you can hear “That’s my tummy!!! Tummy begins with ‘T’!!!! T…U…M…M…Y.. spells TUMMY!!!!” followed by semi-maniacal animatronic giggling before you get the urge to run away and join a cult. That off switch saves my sanity.

For being only 3 months old, I am really impressed at how laid back Reverie seems to be. I know a lot of adult horses that would not stand still with two screechy twins coming running full tilt at them, complete with creepy singing dolls in their arms.

I prepped the twins as we got near, to better direct them.

“This is Sparkle. Sparkle is a mommy horse. Sparkle is nice.”

And dude.

Sparkle is SO nice. Every horse should be a Sparkle.

Sparkle is just a gem of a mare in a very pretty package. You could tell she really liked the twins, because she just came alive when they drew near, swooping low to snuffle at them and standing patiently as they patted the sensitive tip of her nose with their inept little hands.

Magpie, who lives up to her namesake more every day with her penchant for shiny, sparkly things, was in awe of the name.

The horse was named Sparkle.

Not only was the horse named Sparkle, but she, Magpie, also had on a pair of sparkle shoes (light up Sketchers with sequins I found at a yard sale.)

She couldn’t get over it- it totally blew her little two-year-old mind.

“Yook, Spahkle. Hi, Spahkle. Spahkle shoes! My Spahkle shoes. You Spahkle. Dese my spahkle shoes!”

Sparkle is thinking, “You’ve literally been showing me your shoes five minutes straight, saying the same three sentences over and over. I get it. I see them.”

 

While the twins were VERY interested in Reverie, and she in them, I discouraged it as much as possible.

“That’s Sparkle, she’s a nice horse. And this is Reverie, Sparkle’s baby. Reverie is Mommy’s new horse. Reverie is a baby, and Reverie bites. Hard. It will hurt. No touching, or she might bite you. This horsie bites.”

Okay, maybe Reverie doesn’t actually bite…but hey man, two-year-olds and three-month-old horses don’t mix. Reverie would probably nip out of boredom given half a chance, and I’d rather terrify the twins a bit and have them keep a safe distance than try to explain the concept to them or give her a chance to learn bad manners.

After all, for all Reverie is amazingly sweet and calm, she’s still just a foal. I trust her as much as I would trust a hyper kitten near priceless lace curtains.

The twins were horrified at the concept that Reverie could bite, and proceeded to spend the rest of their time lecturing her.

“No biting. No bite. No. Ow. No biting,” they said, over and over…. and over and over…. and over and over, in a kind of squeaky tandem Gregorian chant.

It almost made me miss the whole “Dese my Spahkle shoes” litany. I wish I’d thought to take a video instead of a pic.

You can actually see Finn saying “no bite” here.

Anyways, it’s a little disconcerting that Reverie will be coming home in a few weeks. For the one thing, it means summer is almost over, and that makes me sad. With my full-time job, I feel like I barely spent any time outside.

In addition, although I’m not nearly so worried as I would have been if I hadn’t brought home Jupiter last year…. She’s only going to be four months old.  Jupiter was the youngest horse I’ve ever owned, and he was already a yearling when I got him.

The idea of her actually being here, so young and impressionable, is totally terrifying.  I know in my head that it’s actually not, but my heart disagrees and keeps insisting it really is terrifying.  Reverie represents years (decades?) worth of dreaming come true.

The most disconcerting thing about her impending arrival is the fact that she’s, you know, going to actually be mine. I’m a perpetual daydreamer. I’m used to daydreams – they’re easy, and airy, and fun to live in…. but the Bean is a realist. When I daydream, he tends to take it literally.

 

It used to cause us issues in our marriage, because I would want to daydream with him (“Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get 30 chickens and make money selling eggs? Wouldn’t it be great if we had more property, and could raise our own beef?  What if we packed it all up and headed to Montana? Look at this gorgeous chocolate Labrador, I wouldn’t mind owning a dog like this”, etc, etc.) and he would start to get stressed, trying to figure out all the complexities of turning my imaginary scenarios into a reality.

Even after ten years of marriage, it still weirds me out when the Bean manages to turn my daydreams into reality ,and I think that’s where I am at now. The sheer realness of Reverie makes me nervous.

In my head I am Alex Ramsey on a deserted island with my amazing Black Stallion who is bonded with only me. I am athletic and confident and young, galloping bareback over deserted stretches of sand, and I always know the right thing to do.

In reality…. I’m a 37-year-old mom of four who is out of shape and struggles with depression and has never really taken many riding lessons or had a foal this young, and what the heck am I doing with a horse this nice? What if I ruin her? What if I break her?  I asked for water, but someone handed me the nice china, and can I please just use one of your plastic tumblers to get a drink out of so I don’t have to worry about dropping it?

Caspian is also an amazing horse, but he wasn’t necessarily my decision so I didn’t feel as responsible for him as I do for Reverie.  That’s not to say he’s not magnificent – he’s athletic and amazing and calm and wonderful and talented and I’ve never met a horse as honest as he is.  Still, I didn’t set out to buy him. A horse trader sold him to a horse trader, who sold him to my parents, who needed to find him a quick home after they had some unexpected hospital time.

I’m sure I’d feel just as panicky if I’d bred him from scratch.

Of all the things that are not on my control, there is one thing I can actually do something about, so I’ve channeled all this:

Image result for now what do I do

 

into slowly getting back into shape. I set an initial weight loss goal for myself back in May, and I’m almost there. Once I hit that goal I will then let myself join the local CrossFit.  I know, I know, Crossfit is the devil/the best/the worst/your savior.

I’ve heard it from a lot of different people, trust me.

The thing is, I tried CrossFit before, and it suited me perfectly. The trainers were wonderful and modified all exercises for out of shape me….

But during the free trial week I found myself getting super competitive and I pushed myself too hard for where I was phsically.  I didn’t injure myself – I just ended up having to go up and down stairs on my butt for three days because I didn’t trust my quads to hold my weight.

You haven’t really lived until you’ve tried to navigate stairs on your butt with a set of 7 month old twins in your arms.

I know you’re imagining that in your mind, and let me assure you, the reality of it was even more ridiculous.

Anyways, I figure I’m almost as the point where I can try again, and hopefully by the time Reverie is rideable I’ll be in a place where I can sit a three or four-year-old green broke horse (you better believe I’m sending her away for the first 90 days!) and not feel totally off-balance from lack of core strength.

Giving myself something to do helps. It gives me something to do while I think, and as I ponder, I’m also realizing that it’s okay. It’s okay to love something this much.

In those quiet moments where I’m honest with myself, I think that loving Reverie may be my biggest fear of all.

When I was in my early 20’s I had a flame point cat named Fuego. If you’ve never had a close connection with a pet, it will sound weird to say this, but he was my best friend.  When he escaped from my house and got hit by a car, I was devastated. That’s not hyperbole either- after I received the phone call letting me know he’d died I started crying so hard I had to leave work, and for the rest of the week I barely managed to pull myself together enough to show up for my receptionist job.

Months later, still in the midst of  my private mourning, I lay curled on my side under the covers as silent tears dripped down my cheeks. I still felt aching and raw, lonely for the way he used to crawl under the covers and sleep against me. And that’s when I had a total lightbulb moment, to the point I even muttered it out loud:

“Well, this is stupid.”

Fuego would have lived, what … Fifteen years at most? Seventeen? It just didn’t make sense to give away that big of a piece of my heart to a pet only to have it destroyed every decade or so. There wouldn’t be anything left of me when it was all said and done.

And that was that. That was the last time I let myself get really close to a pet. Oh, I still love my animals, but it’s an easy-going love, more like warm affection.

With Reverie I can sense it is going to be so much more, and it makes me nervous.

Of course, maybe I’ll get lucky?  Maybe it’ll turn out that she has a nasty PMS cycle or that she likes to pee on my shoes whenever I get close to her, or barely tolerate me scratching on her neck.  Maybe she’ll be a habitual stall kicker, or like to stomp chickens, or rub her mane out, or pin her ears a lot?

It’s a weird thing to secretly hope for, but then at least I’ll feel like I can relax, because then she wouldn’t be quite so perfect, so the idea of being responsible for such a perfect daydream of a horse won’t be quite so daunting.

And in the meantime…. if you’re looking for books on training young horses over at the St. Helens Public Library, you’re outta luck.  I’ve already checked them all out. After all, when in doubt, go to the library.

 

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My Weird Dreams vs The Bean’s Weird Dreams

For years my dreams have both plagued and thrilled me.

I’ve had terrifying dreams, waking dreams, and disjointed-but-full-of-symbolism dreams. I’ve had awesome dreams ruined by my husband’s practical nature, suffered from creepy sleep paralysis, and lately I’ve been unnerved by awful “awake-but-not-quite-awake-as-floating-faces-draw-ever-nearer” dreams.

I’ve had mom threesome dreams, dreams where I almost but-not-quite get to ride a horse, and dreams where I’m a crappy parent.

I’ve had the ubiquitous “Oh no, it’s finals day and I didn’t even study” nightmare.

I’ve dreamed I’m combating housecleaning with my specialized Magic the Gathering card decks.

I’ve had lactation nightmares and dreams of swashbuckling bravery, dreams with background music, Game of Thrones Librarian dreams, dreams with old friends I’ve never met anywhere in real life, but who I walk with regularly as I sleep…

I’ve even dreamed I was a My Little Pony with an assault rifle, only to have it ruined at the very end.

I mean, seriously. My dream life is THE BOMB. I feel sorry for non-dreamers sometimes. I go to bed, curl up on my left hand side and drift off, and then I wake up with a magic bow that shoots napalm arrows and I’m infiltrating the enemy base to single-handedly bring down corrupt governments. I have chase dreams, superhero swat team and dreams where I’m trying to survive the zombie apocalypse while high on LSD.

I have dreams where I’m stuck trying to take down the Mexican cartel and the only weapon I have is a fuzzy troll doll/banana slug hybrid.

I regularly have lucid dreams where I use my cognizance as a weapon, and even lucid dreams where I feel pity for the people in my head. Some dreams are funny, a lot of them are not. Some nightmares are so terrible that I don’t even like to write them down, because I keep hoping the details will fade.

The worst ones won’t, no matter how many decades go by.

I’ve even had epic three and four part dreams, where I wake up and then go right back to the same story line the next night, and the multi-part sprawling story line is so complex and woven so tightly that I’ve jotted down the plot in hopes of turning it into a book one day.

Strangely enough, I used to have nightmares about having twins all the time, but since I had to combat that phobia in real life, it’s gone away. There’s power in facing your fears.

Dreams sometimes feel like they are as much a part of who I am as my waking life – an entire swirling second plane of existence I visit for 8-10 hours every day (hahaha, who am I kidding? I have four kids. 5-6 hours a night?).

My dreams are huge and complex and creepy and wonderful.

And then there is the Bean.

The Bean is not very artsy. Oh, he loves beauty, but he is drawn to the beauty of symmetry, or stark beauty, or the kind of powerful beauty contained in 30 foot waves off the southern coast of Chile. I used to ask him what he dreamed about, but eventually I stopped. Even though he was honest when he shared, it took me years to actually believe him. It wasn’t that they were too fantastic to comprehend, but rather that they were too literal.

This morning the alarm clock went off way too early. Finn is still sleeping between us in our bed,

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and lately he has gone from mostly sleeping through the night to waking up every 2-3 hours, asking for another bottle.

Usually around bottle number 2-3, his diaper overflows and wets all of our sheets, and we wake up gritty-eyed, exhausted, and covered in toddler pee.

Parenting: it’s not for the faint of heart.

After several weeks of devolving sleep, I finally had enough and tried putting down my foot yesterday. I told him he would not be getting a third bottle in the wee hours of the morning, and that two bottles was quite enough.

Two or three hours of disjointed, angry screaming toddler non-sleeping later, our alarm went off. I rolled over, trying to blink my hot, too-dry eyes as I returned to reality. What had I been dreaming of? There was a sense of impending doom….. had I been rappelling down the side of a burning building, Australian-style? Why was the building on fire… was it the apocalypse again?….

“I had the weirdest dream,” The Bean murmured, the sound of his voice shattering the haze of my dream into disjointed scenes.

I rolled over and looked at him. “Oh yeah?” The Bean dreams so infrequently that it’s a rare treat for him to remember one.

“I owned a gas station.”

“Yeah?”

“And I had a catalog of all the snacks, so I was going through the catalog, making decisions about what to restock..”

“Yeah?”

“……”

“Then what? You had the catalog, you were trying to figure out what to restock, and then…”

“…..Becky, I just owned a gas station. I was going through the inventory, selecting what to order from catalog. ”

“…… Wait, that’s it?”

“Yeah.”

That was it. His “weird” dream consisted of him doing inventory.

Ten years of marriage, guys, and I still don’t understand how this man’s brain works.

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DragonMonkey and the Disappointing Dinner

It was too hot to cook last night.

After six summers in Oregon I have finally acclimated.  I sweat and whine and flop about bonelessly whenever the sun gets too warm, which is generally anything over 90 degrees.

I know.  I know.  Feel free to mock me – I certainly am.

While that’s still a lot more stoic than most of the other “anything over 80 sucks” long-term Oregonians around me, it’s still a far cry from the Becky of the early 2000s, who would patiently mutter “I really don’t enjoy doing an 10 hour day in the Bakersfield sun whenever it hits over 102”.

Yesterday was a balmy 95 degrees, and despite a house with central AC and an office with AC so crisp that every patron who steps through the doorway smiles in pleasure, I just couldn’t bring myself to embrace the idea of cooking when I got home.

I tried asking my friend Google for help.

“Google, it’s too hot to cook. What kind of dinner should I make for my four kids?”

I did my best to keep it simple.  I learned long ago not to ask Google to consider the fact that Magpie is dairy-free or that DragonMonkey is gluten-free… the results are too weird and difficult.

Even so, the results were fairly predictable.

“Becky, you should have grilled up tri-tip two days before you needed to ask this question so you could marinade it in your fridge and slice it up today to serve with a variety of cold salsas!”

“Sorry.  I forgot – Google, what kind of quick dinners can I feed my four kids when it’s too hot to cook?”

“Becky, you should make hamburgers!  Fire up that grill that stands right in the sun with no shade and then roast things for an hour.. that’s the perfect no-cooking meal!”

“Google, NO. You’re not listening. What kind of I DON’T WANT TO COOK AT ALL meals should I make my kids tonight?  Meals for a hot summer night that kids will actually eat?  And I swear, if you recommend some kind of garlic spinach Brussel sprout salad again, I’m going to hate you for the rest of my life.  What kind of kid starts jumping up and down in excitement at the idea of a garlic spinach Brussel sprout salad?”

“Becky, you should make chilled bean dip!”

“Huh, that sounds kind of good.  How do I–”

“You take black beans and mix them up with garlic and sliced cilantro harvested beneath a winter moon.  Mash it with a silver fork and blend for 2.3 seconds n a counterclockwise direction with acai berries and je ne sais quoi and sprinkle it with foreign spices and blood of a virgin and…”

So I turned to Facebook, where people are much more reasonable, and got a bunch of wonderful answers.  Deli meat platters.  Veggies and ranch dips.  Ice cream sundaes.  Order Dominos.  Send the Bean out to grill for me.

I finally settled on cereal, and decided to make an event of it.  I stopped off at the store on my way to pick up the kids from the sitter’s, and grabbed four boxes of forbidden, name-brand, sugar cereal.

After herding all four of them upstairs into the house, I pulled out the boxes with a flourish.  Lucky Charms. Fruit Loops.  Cap’n Crunch.  Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds.

“Dig in and have as much as you want!” I announced, gesturing at the boxes with a flourish.. “It’s too hot cook, so today and tomorrow are cereal dinner nights!”

Three children cheered.

“Wow!  Yummy!  Thanks, Mommy, you’re the best!” cried Squid.

“Ceweal!” chirped Magpie with a giant grin, and then glancing sideways at her big brother, she added an absolutely adorable, “Gank oo, Mammy.”

“CEWEAL!” echoed Finn, dragging on his high chair, trying to pull it over to the table.  “Wan up.  CEREAL!  Wan up!  Pease.  CEWEAL!”

DragonMonkey crooked an eyebrow, the weight and responsibility of his preteen years settling heavily on his shoulders.  “Really, mom? This is dinner? Don’t you think we need more vitamins and protein than this?”

“Dude.  It’s cereal.  We rarely even eat it for breakfast.  Relax and be happy.  This is a fun treat.”

He picked up a box and squinted at the side.  “It says here it has 12 grams of sugar.  That’s too much sugar.  You’re really going to give this to us for dinner?”  His gaze settled on me, waiting for me to make the right decision.

“Relax, DragonMonkey.  I’m not sitting you in front of a TV and cramming M&Ms down your throat on a nightly basis.”

“M&Ms?  We have M&Ms?”  said Squid, perking up with interest.

“No.  It’s a simile…. wait, it’s a metaphor…. Oh, I forget.  No.  Eat your sugar cereal and be happy.”

“Thanks, Mom!” Squid said.

DragonMonkey took a deep breath and proceeded to explain slowly, as if I was the world’s slowest learner. “Mom, it’s not good for us to have this much sugar.  Our muscles need protein.”  He shook his head, manfully shouldering the burden of his oh-so-disappointing mother.

“Fine. Everyone but you gets Lucky Charms.  You can go eat a limp hot dog and gnaw on frozen broccoli, or wilted lettuce or something.”

“No, no.  It’s fine.”  He poured a bowl with a sigh.  “I just think that maybe other moms out there are feeding their kids real dinners.  It’s okay though.”  He sighed, heavily.  “It’s fine.”

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For sale:  pre-teen with opinions.

CHEAP.

 

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