Friday, February 28, 2014

When the cat's away

Everyone I talked to asked me "how I was holding up" during the time Tim was gone. Of course, I missed him for all of the obvious reasons (and a bonus reason: I was way excited for him to see how much our new dish drainer holds), but I felt more on top of things while he was away. I was terribly lonely and have no desire to be a single mom, but it's nice to have a confidence boost handling the house and kids alone.

We had a busy weekend without dad because apparently "my husband is out of town and I have two small children to keep alive" is not a good excuse for missing class (I'm looking at you, Ustaath Mustafa). On Thursday, our friend Jessica came by with her boys to meet Atticus when his bus arrived from school. I came home to three playing kids in the middle of a crazy rainstorm. A few hours later, we even had thunder. Thunder... snow. It was bizarre. Unfortunately, the warm weather did not last and Friday brought with it freezing temperatures  and wind, wind, wind. All the water accumulated from the melting snow and rainstorm left the sidewalks a slippery mess and the snow brown and depressing. Atticus went to school and came home in time for babysitter Rachel to come over while I went to Arabic class for a bit. I came home, we ate dinner and the kids played around a bit while I was lazy and didn't get the schoolwork accomplished that I needed to (of course).

While I was attempting to get some Arabic HW done, the kids decided to throw flour everywhere. I then realized just how cheap our vacuum cleaner really is.
Saturday was a farmer's market at FUS with a delicious locally-sourced breakfast and crafts for the kids. We almost didn't go but Atticus wanted to get out of the house, which is weird for him so I went with it. We decided to make a day out of it, and hopped on the bus downtown to the International Festival at the Overture Center. We went to three shows including a Lithuanian dance, a Scottish dance, and a Afro-Caribbean duet. We ate lunch (polish kielbasas and tacos) watching a bluegrass band. After three hours at the Overture Center, we headed to the central library. It is a perfect space for kids to roam and there is plenty to keep them occupied, though my kids would stay perfectly content with just the books.

20 degrees and the sun is shining! We wandered up to FUS collecting sticks for an hour.

Atticus walked so slowly Tallulah fell asleep on the way there. At 9:30 am.
(this stroller bunting bag was a great purchase)

Afro-Caribbean duet. The kids loved this the most.

As luck would have it, we ran into our former neighbors who now live up in University Houses, and they have a minivan! Instead of taking the bus home, they took us home and it was the perfect ending to an exhausting day. We got home, ate microwaved baked potatoes for dinner, and went over to our South African friend's house to pick up some things they are leaving behind when they move back. The kids both fell asleep on the way home, though Atticus woke up on the way inside and insisted he was NOT tired so we read an American Girl book until he passed out. I got a little choked up when Marta dies of cholera...

Sunday was FUS and playtime with Donovan on the playground after. The two boys had a great time and did not seem to mind the cold and ice. Lulah fell asleep on the way home and we had a nice afternoon of quesadillas and Magic Tree House. The kids also did all of the dishes for me (minus sharp knives). Atticus did a decent job scrubbing, there were only a few items (the pancake batter bowl) that needed a quick do-over by me.

Potty-training Lu = no pants, ever.

Tim arrived home just in time for yet another week of tundra-like conditions. My top fantasy these days involves walking outside without ten minutes of dressing. The kids wear two shirts + sweater + coat on top and tights + fleece-lined jeans + snow pants on bottom, gloves, hat, and boots. I (and everyone else in Madison) am so. over. this. winter.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Christmas 2013

We arrived in Utah about a week before Christmas as soon as I was finished with my school stuff for the semester. We had a really laid-back week, the kids mostly played with Grandma Betsey's immense stockpiles of toys, I taught myself French, and Tim read. We had a few outings to the mall and the children's museum, but mostly we just stuck around the house as going anywhere requires at least a 20-minute drive and I feel too guilty to contribute to the inversion pollution in Utah (it is SO bad).

Christmas Day arrived, and since a bout of the stomach flu had passed from Tallulah to her grandparents, the bride-to-be (Tim's sister Charity) opted to stay away from the house lest she come down with it on her wedding day. We did not think anyone would come over, and we had a relaxed present opening time (I got a cool, hand-carved wooden French rolling pin, and the kids got a few books and toys). We ate ham, mashed potatoes, Stovetop Stuffing and green beans. It was surprisingly satisfying. I guess I've been away from South Carolina holiday cookin' too long! All the siblings surprised us that evening and came to hang out (minus Charity and Spencer), we opened presents, and ate pie. It was really nice -- we get along really well with all of Tim's siblings and their partners. There are many pictures from Christmas Day itself, which we eventually get from Tim's parents...

Tim's completed puzzle!

Attempts at igloo building, with Mr. Cat.

Circle of life: Atticus was enthralled watching Mr. Cat eat a bird.

Reading with Grandma Betsey before bed.

Friday, February 21, 2014

How many kids do WE want

I realize that with our last two posts were about how Cait is fertile and asking how you decide how many kids to have might lead some to think that we are really close to deciding to get pregnant again.  I do have to admit that we have a pretty short history of times in our marriage where Cait was fertile, either not breastfeeding heavily, or pregnant, or having an IUD. Probably 6 months total in our five years of marriage. That being said I think we are pretty firmly at 2 kids for now. But I also have to admit that the old sidebar on this blog talking about how impulsive we are still very much applies, as in evidenced once again in my previous blog post on attending seminary.

Let's start with this: Our reasons for having kids, or not having kids, should not in anyway be taken as judgement for those who do or do not have kids based on different reasoning. It is so complex a decision that we really all have to admit that we are inadequate for perfectly making the decision for ourselves, let alone others. I think that is one of the reasons why this isn't a publicly discussed topic, both because it can be sensitive to the person who is asked, but that the answer can easily be taken as another front in the battle of who is the best parent, which certainly needs no more fronts on which to throw ourselves into combat. Now that is out of the way and let's move onto what we all came for.

I don't want anymore kids. There, I said it.

Part of me, of course, really wants more kids. Babies are cute. Our kids are cute and I love them probably like I would love any other kids that came into our lives. I want my kids to have friends. I don't want to be alone in my old age. All reasons left in the comments of our last post. Nevertheless, most of the time and with most of my rational mind, I don't want any more kids.

Here is some of my (once again, admittedly inadequate and highly personal) reasoning:

1) This is already hard enough. A friend from the MESA program at BYU asked me what the hardest part of being a parent is as she and her spouse were contemplating having kids. For me the answer is pretty clear: I am so often deeply disappointed in myself as a parent, and dealing with that self-dissapointment is really tough. I am usually a very patient person, but with my kids, my patience runs out agonizingly quickly. I am already so far away from the kind of parent I want to be, and it is significantly harder to get close with two kids than it was with one. Yes, it will get easier as they get older, but I think I've already made as much of a compromise between present difficulty and future good times as I am willing to make. This, of course, has to do with my choices as to parenting style, but I'm not willing to make much more of a compromise on that either.

2) People are hard on the planet, and I want to be careful about how many I add. I realize that the environmental impact of having kids is a really touchy subject, especially among Mormons, "Zero population is the answer my friends" and tight jean dancing (sorry for the inflammatory title, find me a better one) and all that. But this is a legitimate reason in my mind for not wanting any more kids, and this is my blog, or at least our blog. Yes, population models show that we'll eventually peak, although there is plenty of dispute as to when and at what number, and that this decline will bring with it very serious problems of an aging population. However, a) I've done my part to keep us at replacement population and ease the transition b) I think the problems of an aging population are much easier to deal with than that of an ever growing one and c) it is pretty clear that the main decline will come from educated people in developed countries having less babies. That's us. It's also clear that even though we'll peak as a population, we are going to do some pretty radical damage to the planet in the meantime. Yes, two kids vs four kids will not make any real difference in the outcome of the future of our planet, but fighting against the tragedy of the commons is one of my main life goals.

3) I've lost trust in that quiet voice telling me that there are more kids for us waiting to come and complete our family. Yes, Linus and Clementine might be up there somewhere begging for us to let them come down. I take that possibility seriously, in large part because I believed it to come from God for so much of my life and because people that I love and respect believe that this is true for them. But, like so many things that I believed to come from God before my faith transition, I have found other explanations for this impression or feeling that make more sense than having it be from the Spirit. Out of respect for those who firmly hold this belief, I'll limit myself to saying that there are (or at least were, pre-industrialization) very clear benefits for our species to have our minds consistently whispering to us, in whatever form we are most likely to accept, that we should have more children. I know even that amount of alternative explanation will be offensive to some people.

So, there you have it. And now we'll feel silly when we announce our next pregnancy in six months. But what is a blog for except making yourself look like an idiot for the world to see?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Carroll-Brownings at a glance

23 months, Tallulah's favorites include...

Food: Lentil soup
Toy: Baby dolls of any sex, ethnicity, size or shape
Past time: Naked dancing (this girl can groooooove)
Newly-acquired skill: Potty-peeing and boobless sleeping
Artistic medium: Markers and construction paper
Thing to wear: Elmo pajamas
iPad game: Endless Alphabet
Amazon Prime TV choice: Caillou
Expression: "Mom Milk"
Book: Olivia

Four years, five months, Atticus's favorites include...

Food: Shepherd's Pie
Toy: Rocket ship
Past time: Cooking
Newly-acquired skill: Name-writing and independent sleeping
Artistic medium: Watercolors
Thing to wear: NOT overalls
iPad game: Isabella game (Preschooler Minecraft)
Amazon Prime TV choice: America's Test Kitchen
Expression: "I am SO FUSTERATED!"
Book: Losing Uncle Tim

27 years, 2 months, Cait's favorites include...

Food: Butternut squash burritos
Toy: Vibrator
Past time: Writing grant proposals
Newly-acquired skill: Menstruating
Artistic medium: Pencil and French workbook
Thing to wear: Eddie Bauer flannel-lined jeans
iPad game: DuoLingo
Amazon Prime TV choice: Sherlock
Expression: "Let's have another baby"
Currently reading: Les Miserables

28.5 years, Tim's favorites include...

Food: Chocolate chip cookies
Toy: Solar charger
Past time: Stretching his IT band
Newly-acquired skill: Speaking German
Artistic medium: OmmWriter Word Processor
Thing to wear: Betabrand biking pants
iPad game: Home Routines
Amazon Prime TV choice: Falling Skies
Expression: "Did you see [blah blah blah] on FMH?"
Currently reading: Rough Stone Rolling and The Earth Path

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Headlamp photo shoot

Here's one of the ways we get through the winter days, taking increasingly close photos:

Atticus's "photo-shoot mode" was out of control funny throughout. I think we was trying to do act like a winner of a cooking show.

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 10-16

In big weekly news, Lulah has been making huge strides in both potty training as well as sleeping through the night. She's such a sweet girl, and she has made these long awaited transitions smoothly. Atticus is still adjusting to his new, longer school schedule, I can't stop thinking about my lovely upcoming weekend in Austin and Cait tries to not let her jealousy bring her to violence.

Monday: Our big errand day in the snow. Tallulah and I picked up Atticus from school, rode to the doctor, where they both got some immunizations, stopped at the bookmobile, and rode to Whole Foods to play in their play area and pick up some groceries. Ever since we learned that whole foods gives people on bike $5 off of a $30 bill, we have been shopping there more and more. Because we rarely go above $50 on one bike trip, it's basically 10% off everything. We've realized that while there are cheaper options on groceries in other stores, we usually tended towards the whole food type choices. Anyway, that is why we end up shopping at Whole Foods. Stop judging our pretentious food choices.

Resting after the big ride
Tuesday: Cait had a breakfast with some muckety-muck. I'm sure it was great. I probably forgot to ask, being the disinterested homemaker type.

Lulah likes drawing circles on the iPad. I criticized Cait for taking a picture of the iPad with the iPhone, but, she was right, this is nicer than a screenshot

Atticus and I played snow baseball as the sun faded

I'm not sure if this is officially Atticus's bike or not, but it is officially stuck for at least another month

Wednesday: I took Tallulah with me to an "assessment" to see if we qualified to be in a research study on compassionate parenting. Boy do I need some of that. I was really trying not to get my hopes up, because we had a 50/50 chance of being in the control group, that didn't get to participate, but we found out later that night that we got in. I remember being too exhausted, for whatever reason, when I read that we got in, to be excited, but now I am. Maybe I'll start a blog series on it.

Thursday: I put into motion my top-secret valentine's day plan. Not really. I stayed inside and worked on grad applications while it snowed like crazy outside. I also went on a run for the first time in too long.

Friday: Cait went with Lulah to her valentine's day party at school. Another run while Cait went to Costco. Final Sherlock episode+extra long back rub for Cait with essential oils=?

Atticus was more enthusiastic for the party than Lulah

Saturday: A great morning run out on picnic point in the snow. FUS (I have to stop myself from typing "candy land church" which is what we call it around here because Atticus played his first game of Candy Land there, I feel bad when we offer Atticus the choice of whether to go to "Candy Land church" or "Mormon church" on Sundays, sorry Mormon church, I guess you should have more board games). We, especially Cait fueled by chai vanilla lattes from Costco, cleaned like mad.

From this throw-all corner:

To this lovely reading nook/Lulah bed (we [Cait] shifted a lot of bins under Atticus's bed and gave Lulah's bed a permanent home, instead of pulling it out from under Atticus's every night)

Sunday: A batman and cat woman dress up party for the kids followed by sledding in the morning. Cait made a friend from France and scheduled some language exchange playdates (Cait is learning French, the other woman is learning English). I had a too-long library committee meeting. And then we had the Krewson's over for dinner.

Two terrible photos that I got of sledding. Apparently our kids need better fitting hats.

The dynamic duo:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Lovin'

I was listening to the Valentine's Day This American Life podcast and there was a story about a couple who fell in love during college and spent their 20s together. As the man described their perfect relationship, I thought to my own: best friends, travel well together, great sex, can talk about anything. They, however, did not get married and have a kid a year after they met, and ended up breaking up (after a month-long rumspringa where they were allowed to have sex with whomever they wanted). Fortunately for us, we didn't feel the need to sleep around and experience a normal 20s experience, because life is pretty satisfying and wonderful as is. 

I love this man.

"I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman." - Anais Nin

February 3-9

Monday: After Atticus's school we all headed out to the bookmobile.

Tuesday: I had my a long meeting with the senior pastor at FUS, Michael Schuler about entering into divinity school and then the ministry. While we talked through a lot of different issues and challenges about being a minister, I left feeling more assured than ever that this would be a good path for me to walk down at least for a while.

Wednesday: The UW provided baby sitter came in the late afternoon. Because it was already cold and dark, I wasn't really sure what to do, since I didn't want to ride my bike to Whole Foods to work, which is what I usually do when the baby sitter comes over. Instead, I rode the bus down to State St. and worked at Chipotle and got a burrito. I should have called Cait to come over, because she was just finishing school, but I didn't think that far. Sorry Cait.

Thursday: Cait had her first day online tutoring a high school student. Fun.

Friday: I went to the dentist in the morning. Looking good, thankfully. We had pizza night at night.

Saturday: We had a big day at the children's museum all together. Cold day for travel. Second saturday potluck at FUS. We made cookies. Then we came home and played in the snow.

Lulah dressing up at Children's museum

Sunday: I took Atticus to help provide hospitality after services at FUS (coffee, tea, hot chocolate) and we played a Dr. Seuss board game for hours. He loves that stuff. Then we had a Valentine's party at the kids school.

Other pictures from the week:

This is her "cheese" face