Posted: June 17th, 2016 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Minneapolis Schools, Misc., Out and About, Parenting, Stream of Consciousness | No Comments »
I just want to write.
Every night as my head hits the pillow, my eyes blink open and that thought flashes across my mind. I just want to write. But when? How? What do I even write about?
I’m in the deep end of the parenting pool, and I’m treading water like crazy. Everyone is so loud. Everyone needs me all of the time. Yesterday I actually told my kids that I was going to run away and never come back. And for a few minutes, I think I actually meant it. We aren’t far enough into summer for me to be losing my grip here. Don’t even get me started on the state of my house.
There is a lot of energy in my house. My almost 6-year old is without his best friend Monday-Thursday, and spends the day antagonizing everyone from dawn til dusk. There is not enough coffee in the world to enable me to start the day on the right foot with him. I do not do mornings well to begin with, and I dread getting up when I hear him downstairs at 6am. Which is in itself a problem- 6am?! It’s summer, we have nowhere to be in the mornings. Why must my kids get up at 6am?
My 2-year old just figured out how to climb out of his crib, so naps and bedtimes are a nightmare, and we are suddenly back into up-all-night sleep deprivation mode. I was completely spoiled by the ability to put him in his crib, let him snuggle in and be awake for awhile, and then fall asleep on his own. Now we are all rocking and shushing, and sitting in front of the crib and putting him back when he climbs out. Did I mention he is still nursing? He’s still nursing. We’ve been trying to wean for a good year at this point and although I think we are close, I’m completely over it.
My 7-year olds are (as usual) the easier of the four to keep entertained during the day, mostly because there are endless screenplays to read on the internet, and the yoga balls are in abundance. Easy if you ignore the fact that one of them likes to dump all of my jewelry out and drag it all over the house, and the other one won’t wear pants. Easy if you ignore the fact that we are all on constant lockdown because they are an elopement risk and my biggest fear is one of them leaving and me not being able to track them down and/or catch up to them. But they aren’t yelling at me at 6am, so that goes a long way.
We wrapped up all spring sports and activities! Newsflash: much to my surprise, I am not cut out to be a sports mom. I have zero patience for watching games, and even less patience for chasing my other kids around parks and fields while their sibling plays. I also really like not having things scheduled at night. Maybe it’s good none of them like hockey.
Speaking of sports moms, I got to witness another mom walk out onto the field during a game to yell at MY KID for throwing sand. Of course every other kid was also throwing sand at the time (this is T-Ball after all), mine just happened to throw sand at her kid. Asher’s Mom- Your face is seared into my brain.
We spent approximately 10% of our income on various car repairs and major appliance replacements in May. So that was fun. I’m never getting a new couch.
My 5-year old took it upon himself to open up a can of paint, and proceed to paint on our walls, and his bed frame when I allowed him to stay home while Yogi Dad was on a conference call (home, but not supervising). I guess I need to actually get the painting done this summer. Anyone like to paint?
We finally figured out what our upstairs ceiling was made of. The weird ceiling that when we bought the house we told the realtor we would eventually replace because it’s weird, and ugly? ASBESTOS. The ceiling is made from asbestos. Because OF COURSE IT IS. I guess we just paint over it and live with it, because we probably aren’t going to be replacing it anytime soon. Shouldn’t that have been in the truth in sale of housing documents? It feels like that might be important information.
Another important piece of information that we recently learned was the fact that the teacher hired from Spain to teach in my 5-year old’s brand new Spanish dual immersion program last year, was a gym teacher when he taught in Spain. Nothing against gym teachers, but I think we can all agree that this was a major oversight on the hiring team. He was not a general education teacher. He was not a dual immersion teacher. He was not a kindergarten teacher. I’m not sure how many times I asked what he taught, but it was never specifically stated, and the answer always led me to believe that he just taught a grade other than kindergarten. Of course, I didn’t learn this information until we had already pulled our kids from the school for next year, partially due to the fact that the Spanish immersion experience had been so poor. I am disappointed on so many levels. But mostly I fear that we wasted my son’s entire kindergarten year. We put a lot of faith in the district and our administrators that this was going to be great. We knew it would be hard starting a new program, but we trusted that it would work out. It was a total fail.
(Now I’m just sitting here angry. Think Lovely Thoughts!)
Libraries. Dude. I finally updated my card and I’m newly obsessed with working on my To-Read list without feeding my Amazon addiction. The best thing so far is the audio books. I spend way too much time doing dishes every day, and listening to something I want to read is making those hours feel like less of a loss. Also: podcasts. I’m sorry I ever turned my nose up at the podcasters at the blogging conferences!
Ice Cream. This is the summer of ice cream. Northeast Minneapolis needs a good ice cream shop, it sounds like we have donuts figured out, but our ice cream options are lacking. In the meantime we are eating our weight in DQ.
Neighborhood pools- best invention ever.
My gardens are really coming along, there wasn’t much here when we bought the house, and we have since removed all of the shrubs and replaced with perennials, so it’s a work in progress. If I like it, I stick it in the dirt, so there isn’t much rhyme or reason to what is happening there, but now that things have had a year or two to establish, I can see where we need to move things around a bit.
Our summer is pretty well stocked with fun things to do. I hope the boys enjoy our daytrips and vacations. I hope that I can enjoy them and not just be constantly stressed. Cross your fingers for me?
Aaaannnd we’re back to negative, so I’m going to stop right there for now.
Posted: November 3rd, 2015 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Living in the City, Stream of Consciousness | No Comments »
It’s November. In Minnesota. And it’s 70 degrees out.
I’m staring at my backyard that is still covered with kid toys, and lawn tools, and an unfinished patio, and I can’t help but think we are playing with fire here. It’s going to actually be winter soon, and then those toys and lawn tools will be covered in snow, and that unfinished patio project will cease to just be an eyesore and turn into a major hazard for anyone trying to walk across the backyard. We need to get on this stuff, but the weather is not conducive to getting everything put away for the winter.
We need to rake! We need to mow! We need to put away the trampoline and the patio furniture! I need to put down grass seed! We need to fill in that damn hole before someone breaks a leg! But I’m over here ignoring all of it. I’m enjoying these days of having the windows open and the breeze blowing through. It makes up for the craziness of darkness at 5pm thanks to daylight savings time.
I never get used to the early darkness. By 6:00 I’m ready to tuck everyone into bed and sit on my ass. Instead I have an endless list of places to be: PTO, CPEO, SEAC, Site Council, Partners in Policymaking, and on and on and on. When did I become a joiner?
Winter is coming. It’s my favorite time of year. When everything gets covered in a quieting blanket of snow. When the air has that distinct winter snow smell that I can’t ever describe. When it’s OK to sit inside and be cozy, and churn out baked goods, and burn candles, and wear sweaters, and plan holiday meals and map out holiday traditions on the calendar.
Winter is coming. I hope it snows.
Posted: September 9th, 2015 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Living in the City, Parenting, Stream of Consciousness, Stuff I Like | Tags: Kitten | No Comments »
We told the boys they could have a kitten.
This doesn’t seem like a huge deal, except I have been saying for the past year that I am in no uncertain terms, done with pets. D.O.N.E. And then a friend with a pregnant cat offers up kittens, and half jokingly I asked Yogi Dad if we should get a kitten, only to be met with a very enthusiastic- Yes!
So, we are getting a kitten.
“Because all kids should have the experience of raising a pet.”
To prepare for this kitten, who is expected to come earthside sometime in late September/early October, we need to get the last of the carpet out of our house. I can’t have cats and carpet. More specifically, I can’t have Henry-Simon, and a new kitten, and carpet. I can barely have Henry-Simon and carpet as it is. He’s kind of a passive aggressive asshole that way. I’m anticipating some angst-y days after our little furball friend joins us. I have visions of him just giving up the cat box altogether to show his displeasure at the situation.
That said, I’m hoping Henry-Simon enjoys this new addition. He seems lonely without Audrey and Stanley. He needs someone to bum around with. He needs someone to get him up and moving instead of hiding under the bed all day long. He needs someone to boss around. Someone that isn’t me.
The major conversation around our house lately revolves around what to name this kitten. We get first choice of the girls, so I’ve been rallying for Gertie. I think it fits well with Audrey/Henry-Simon/Stanley. So far I’ve only convinced Lincoln that *this* is the name for our kitten. Wyatt and Judah have settled on Gnocchi, like the cat on Curious George.
It’s been almost 14 years since we’ve adopted a new pet. Where will she sleep? How will we contain her? What if she gets out and is eaten by the neighborhood fox or one of those gigantic blackbirds that are everywhere?! So many things going through my mind. I need new cat bowls, and a collar, and something to scratch on, and heaps of catnip to keep Henry-Simon content.
I’m excited for the boys to meet this new addition. I don’t know what I was thinking saying I was done with pets. As if that could ever be good.
Posted: May 31st, 2015 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Autism, Early Intervention, Living in the City, Minneapolis Schools, Parenting | Tags: acceleration 2020, ASP Program, Burroughs, Citywide autism program, Minneapolis Public Schools, Sheridan | 1 Comment »
If you are going to make big sweeping changes to how something is done, you need to communicate early (and often!) to the people those changes will be affecting. This seems like a simple rule, but it’s not always put into practice.
Over the past few months our district has been talking about upcoming changes to the autism program. I have zero issues with the current program, it’s been fabulous for the boys, and they are thriving. We are very happy in Minneapolis Public Schools. At the Monthly SEAC meetings I’ve attended, any discussion about the changes have made sense to me, and I have been comfortable with what is being rolled out. There has been very little push-back to the changes at the meetings I’ve been to.
If the changes are implemented well, this could be a great way of getting kids back into their classrooms, back into their community schools (vs being segregated into cluster schools), and more aligned with the federal settings.
I am not so naive as to believe there will not be stumbling blocks, or that the changes will be right for every single child, but I think the reasons for the changes are sound, and I think the changes are overall good, and I think this could really work.
I seem to be very alone in my opinions, at least I haven’t found many other parents who agree (or are willing to speak up on the matter). I am starting to think this is because the vast majority of parents do not know about the changes yet, and those who do are being informed by a very vocal group of parents who are absolutely outraged (Call the media! This is Criminal! This is detrimental to our kids!) vs by the people who should be sharing the information: the people who came up with the plan- the Special Education department.
You can not imagine how much this has made me question my sanity or intelligence. How can I, an educated mother of two autistic sons entering 1st grade, be so daft as to think these changes are OK, when everyone else is screaming for every advocate in the sate to take up the cause of putting an end to these changes? I’ve asked nearly everyone I know who has seen and heard the same information if I am missing something, and I have been assured I am not.
Am I just more level-headed? Maybe I can see past the knee-jerk reaction to freak out whenever something will affect the boys, and give it a chance? Maybe I am more trusting in my boy’s abilities? Maybe I am too trusting of the boy’s educators to want the best for them? Maybe I can see the good the changes will bring? Maybe I am right and they are wrong? Maybe we are both right?
What I want to know is this- what would the motivation be for a district to set up kids for such failure? Because that is what these parents are saying these changes amount to- nothing but detrimental, criminal level failure of our children, who will be no doubt ostracized in the process, and left on their own to fumble through. Apparently in this world, IEPs don’t exist, and neither do federal settings.
So far all I’m hearing is the token “it’s all about the budget”, but I hate to break it to you, in a school district EVERYTHING is about the budget.
There has to be more. I don’t think the district would do something to cause this much blowback, if they didn’t think the changes were good, and important, and that kids would be supported.
At this point I want to completely remove myself from the conversation. Those who are talking the loudest do not want to hear dissent. They are only interested in finding people who agree, or those who haven’t heard any information yet, because they can be easily swayed. And really, what could I possibly say? I have nothing to back myself up- there is nowhere to direct people to get information at this point.
Do you see what I mean about communicating early and often? The district has already lost on this, because they are letting a group of unhappy parents write the script. As we go into the last week of the school year, with the last SEAC meeting this Thursday, I just want to skip ahead to August, and have the changes in place.
Let’s get some information out there MPS. Stop letting this conversation be based on fear and negative propaganda.
Posted: June 14th, 2013 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Living in the City, Stream of Consciousness | No Comments »
Well, it’s been awhile.
I have to say, there were many days when all I wanted to do was sit down and write, but time was just not on my side.
Here are the high (and low) points:
We bought a house! We closed on the 31st and have been in full-on moving mode ever since. Which mostly means painting, packing, and spending all of our money at Home Depot.
Moving with three toddlers is harder than moving with two toddlers and an infant. I think we are still 90% in boxes here. As hard as it was to pack, it’s proving to be just as difficult to un-pack and organize. We might be living out of boxes for the next 6 months. Maybe the next 6 years.
We have a lot of stuff. I *thought* I had made a dent in our possessions when we purged three van-fuls of clothes, housewares and home décor over to Goodwill. I was sorely mistaken. As we unpack and organize, we will once again be giving everything a long, hard look. Or, in my husband’s case, just tossing everything, including the gorgeous hooked rug gifted to us for the boys room. I pulled more than a few cherished items out of the trash last week. So, I suppose I will be doing the unpacking/ organizing/ purging. Anyone want to help?!
We went on a date! At a normal time! At a respectable, hip place! On a Saturday night! On MOVING DAY! It was one for the record books. It’s been awhile since we made a reservation for after 6pm.
All of my electronics conked out on me at the same time. Our desktop took a turn for the worse and was skittish at best, throwing up the blue screen of death at it’s worst. A certain 4 year old spilled a glass of milk on our laptop rendering it almost completely useless. My phone decided that it would no longer hold a charge for more than 6 minutes and seeing as we are up for new phones in July, I am trying to make it through the next few weeks with minimal phone use. So, basically, if I was online at all, it was while tethered to the wall by my phone charger.
Care Cab took our boys home to our old house. Pretty sure the old guy across the street who sits on his porch and watches the neighborhood all day thinks I am up to something after I paced up and down the sidewalk with a half-naked toddler for 45 minutes while we waited for them to show up at the right house. I have no doubt that it was an honest mistake, the driver has driven them many times before and it was the first time she had driven them since the move and just went to the old house. There was no way she would have left them there, they just got an extra long ride home. She probably suffered the most as Wyatt and Lincoln told her in no uncertain terms where they wanted to be: The three five one five house!
The school year ended. We are mostly surviving with just 3 hours of day treatment each day. It’s hard to tell where the craziness is coming from, the shortened day, or the new, unorganized house. I’m hoping we can get into a routine here soon. I’m also hoping that things will be easier once our fence goes in. I. Can’t. Wait.
This house is locked up tighter than Fort Knox. Four locks plus alarms on the exit doors? Yes, please! Everywhere you look there is a lock, latch, or safety device. I know it seems excessive, but containment is our number one priority with these kids, and for once, I don’t want to have to worry about leaving the room and coming back to find they walked out the back door.
New furniture for everyone! And the beginnings of Pinterest worthy rooms! Aside from Home Depot, we have been to Ikea about a dozen times, Target, and Amazon are seeing lots of action. We held on to cheap furniture from college and when we were first married because we wanted to wait to replace things when we bought a house. Let’s just say that tearing apart old flat-pack was insanely satisfying after all these years. It is so nice to start fresh and new!
I am failing at using my CSA shares. We just have fallen apart when it comes to cooking. Pretty sure we have eaten out at least once a day for the past month. I am so ready to be cooking again. Thankfully Wyatt is on a “healthy snacks” kick and the boys are devouring fresh fruits and veggies by bowlful, even if they aren’t our CSA veggies, and even if we aren’t getting healthy meals in. Sunday is the start of a new week, a fresh start for everyone and everything!
Wondering what happened to our landlord and his many hats? When we checked out of the old house, he sort of apologized for “only thinking of himself” when he gave us the boot so unexpectedly. Things obviously worked out in our favor. We bought a house we love in a neighborhood we are excited to be living in. That said, his “apology” doesn’t erase the douchbaggery. He ended up taking his house off the market after a couple of price drops, so they won’t be moving into the rental we were in after all. Of course.
That’s probably enough for tonight. Pictures will come once we get more settled. Right now it’s just toy soup and box city. Pretty sure you all know what that looks like!
Posted: May 1st, 2013 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Living in the City, Parenting | Tags: Cleaning, Moving, Terrible Twos, Toddlers | 2 Comments »
Right now I am sitting at my dining room table, trying to figure out how in the world I am going to get this house packed up. I can’t get the dishes done without Judah running out the backdoor, let alone do work where I need to be sorting and organizing and getting rid of things I don’t want or need to take to our new house. He makes the smallest task next to impossible.
On Monday I was in the kitchen, doing dishes (which are endless when you don’t have a dishwasher) and he went outside to the backyard. I had him leave the back door open so I could hear him, but not 5 minutes later, he was nowhere to be found. John and I both kind of freaked out. Our yard is fenced, but it backs up to an alley- could someone have taken him from the alley? The worst things go through your mind.
After about 10 minutes of running around like crazy people (our neighbor across the street helped too), we found him. He was in the garage, which we both thought was locked. I had my phone in my hand, ready to call 911. It was scary shit.
I cannot take my eyes off this kid for a second. Which means I get absolutely nothing done until after the boys go to bed, and by then I am completely exhausted and ready to put my feet up and drink a beer and cruise Facebook.
It’s frustrating to live like this.
We move in a month, so adding extra locks and alarms to our doors is silly. Telling him “no” is useless. Putting him on time out is laughable. We have taken away toys and privileges and everything we can think of, it doesn’t stop the naughtiness. And honestly, I can deal with all of those things as long as I am not having to worry about his safety. Within 30 minutes of getting up in the morning, he has escaped to the backyard. I don’t have time to deal with that when I am trying to get the boys out the door to school.
So back to packing- I have no idea how this is going to get done. I feel like we need a few kid free weekends where we can get the majority of it done, because staying up until midnight, packing by myself doesn’t sound like a good time!
The countdown has started- we close on the 31st!
I’ll be in the corner, distracting myself with paint chips and Pinterest, trying to forget that I have a laundry list of things to do.
Posted: April 16th, 2013 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Living in the City | 5 Comments »
It has been a really, really, really, exhausting and LONG 10 days.
Two Saturdays ago we were informed that our neighbors were putting their house on the market. It’s totally gorgeous, in a desirable neighborhood, in a seller’s market, so it of course sold in about 16 seconds. Our landlord emailed us letting us know about this. Also that he was “just brainstorming” and wondering what he could get for our place. Yogi Dad, trying to make sure we would not be homeless, asked if we could change our lease to a 1-year (we hadn’t signed one yet and had been toying with the idea of looking for a house later this year). Our landlord said no, apologized for needing to put on his “investor hat” and that was that. The clock was ticking. How much time we had, we still didn’t know.
We kind of went into panic mode and immediately sought out a mortgage broker that did not work for Wells Fargo*. Within 24 hours we were approved for a mortgage and were on the hunt.
Naively, thinking that he has a vested interest in getting us into a house so he can sell this one, we hired our landlord to be our realtor. Our parents were all kind of giving us the “are you sure you want to do that?” talk, but up until this moment, we hadn’t had a bad experience with our landlord, and anyways, he kept telling us he wasn’t going to “kick us out”, so we figured it was a win-win. He was available at a moments notice for showings, which is really helpful when there are 6 houses for sale and 9,784 people trying to buy them. This is a seriously bad market for buyers right now.
We took our list of houses we had to choose from and would drive around, culling them based on location- busy streets, no driveway and being next to a crack house, an auto shop, or train tracks were all deal breakers. On Monday (or was it Tuesday?), I went and looked at 3 houses with Judah.
One house stood out and after John and my dad looked at it, we put in an offer. They countered, we countered back, they wouldn’t budge, then a new TISH report showed a laundry list of problems we didn’t want to deal with. We talked it over, we talked it over with our landlord/realtor. He offered to let us live rent free for 2 months and guaranteed our deposit back to give us more cash up front. The kicker was we had to get out by June 2nd because him and his wife were thinking our house would be a perfect place to come home to with their newborn twins (they are selling their house as well).
June 4th is the boys last day of school, no way am I moving them out before then.
It was at that point I kind of lost it. I needed a break from the pressure- no one buys a house in week one after looking at 3 houses. We walked away from our offer the next morning, and that was that. John made plans to look at houses in a different part of the city on Sunday while I was at my moms with all my aunts and girl cousins and our kids. He was given the hard sell on a house we both had absolutely no interest in. I was really starting to losing my patience.
That night, or landlord/ realtor asked what I was looking for in a house.
So I told him:
If I’m buying an old house in the city, the dream with be a Victorian or a Tudor. After that I would be happy with a 1.5 story built in the 40’s or 50’s- still charming in it’s own way. Wood floors throughout are at the top of our list- if there is carpet, knowing there are hardwoods underneath is enough for me. Safety things that are top of mind because of the flight risk with the boys- not a busy street, not immediately adjacent to a busy street, fenced yard, a driveway is incredibly helpful but I know it’s not the norm in most neighborhoods. At least .12 on the lot and if there is a claw foot tub, that would be icing on the cake.
We didn’t hear back until the next morning.
When were informed, by email, that we had 60 days to vacate our house as per the terms of our lease. Also:
I am sorry to “spring” this on you, but in order for me to be able to possibly sell it/re-rent it**
or live in it…it needs to be empty…
After much thought and discussion with my wife and business partners***/friends, it is in my best interest
to make it official.
I completely understand if this situation makes it difficult to work with me for a potential home purchase,
so I am willing to cancel the representation contract that John signed on Friday morning…there is and was never
any compensation for this representation contract.
My head pretty much exploded at that point. I don’t think I stopped crying for more than an hour at a time the whole day and our world was pretty much turned upside down. Did I mention Judah was being evaluated for the red flags of Autism today?**** Yeah. It was not the day to mess with me.
Yogi Dad hired a new realtor about 10 minutes after getting this email while I hyperventilated in the bathroom.
Fast forward 24 hours and we are currently knee deep in an offer on a house in a neighborhood near our old stomping grounds. We are up against one other offer and the ticking of the clock definitely has us on edge.
I understand that it’s “business” and he had to put on his “investor hat”, but nothing about this situation is ethical- it’s like he saw what we were looking for, realized it probably wasn’t going to happen before June, and threw in the towel. He needed a place to put his family when he sold his own house, so we were going to be out in June come hell or high water.
I’ve had a lot of anger the past 2 days, I don’t know when that will subside. You can guarantee that all of the professionals we are working with are aware of the circumstances of our situation, and I just have to think, Karma is a bitch.
In the meantime…any good thoughts, prayers and crossed limbs are welcome! We have 12 days to have an offer accepted to be out on time. (I realize that is a completely ridiculous request considering my statement about Karma, but SERIOUSLY!)
Also: I am LOVING our new team- they came highly recommended and are taking great care of us, which is helpful considering my completely emotional state right now.
UPDATE: As I was writing the title of this, we got the call, our offer was accepted! We bought a house! In the city! In NORDEAST! So many things are exciting about that for me.
*It took Wells Fargo over 6 weeks of jumping through hoops over the holidays to deny us a loan- it was an experience I don’t recommend to anyone.
**I actually just noticed that “re-renting” it is an option…why would he kick us out to re-rent it- SERIOUSLY?
***Interesting, considering he told yogi Dad the night before that one of his business partners told him to stop freaking out his tenants with his “brainstorming”.
****He is fine-not showing any signs. Just high strung and crazy/normal.
Posted: December 11th, 2012 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Living in the City, Parenting | Tags: Budget, Christmas, Wants and Needs | 3 Comments »
Remember earlier this year, when we were making a very big attempt at purging all of our stuff and living more simply?
Why is it so hard to remember that intention at this time of year?
Or rather, why do I feel guilty for not overwhelming my kids with gifts or giving extravagantly to friends and family?
I think I know what it is for me, and it’s kind of difficult to swallow because it shows a certain shallowness of my character, I think.
I am afraid that if people see us giving only a few things to our kids, or small token gifts, they will believe it is first and foremost because we can’t afford to give them more and not because we have made the choice to keep things to a minimum.
Because not having enough money is pretty much the worst thing, right?
You need to have more, bigger, more expensive things. Right?
You need food.
You need shelter.
You need clothes on your back (or boots on your feet).
I also think you need healthcare, love and an education but really, food and shelter and clothing pretty much cover the needs.
Food: I think we eat fairly well, considering the budget is so tight it squeaks ($220, for 2 weeks- 5 people plus pets and all paper, health and beauty supplies, etc.). Since we’ve given up most convenience foods except for mac and cheese and the occasional frozen appetizer, it’s gotten more difficult but I like to cook so I can usually make it work. I practically do a dance out the doors at Target when my total is under and I can grab a Starbucks on my way out the door!
Shelter: We live in an OK house in a fabulous neighborhood. Actually, who am I kidding? It’s the eyesore of the block but we’re only renting so I really don’t care what it looks like on the outside. The neighborhood is exactly where I would want to live forever, but on one income, it’s probably not going to happen anytime in the near future. I’m OK with that. I will enjoy my ugly house and the 4 coffee shops and lovely restaurants within walking distance while we are here.
Clothing: I will admit, my kids get a lot of their clothes from grandparents and when I buy them, they are usually second hand from the St. Paul Moms of Multiples sale. They have no need for clothes. Although I have completely fallen down on the boots/ snow pants thing this year. Epic Mom fail.
Healthcare: We have more than enough of that to go around although I’m not too excited about the new plans offered by Yogi Dad’s employer. I’ll be interested to see what is offered in the exchanges once they open. The boys have pretty much everything, and I mean EVERYTHING covered regarding their autism therapies because we also have TEFRA which is like a supplemental insurance for kids with disabilities. It’s simply amazing.
Love: I’m pretty sure the boys know they are loved. They only get told and hugged and kissed and cuddled and squished about 97 times a day. It’s literally my coping mechanism when things get rough. Things going straight to the shitter? To-do list too long? Kids acting like crazy people hopped up on Pixie Stix? Just tackle them all with hugs and loves. Nothing brightens my mood more than a smiling kid asking for a Puppy Kiss.
Education: Way back when I was in high school a friend of mine and I were having a discussion about what was the most important thing for a child and I said “and education”. She said “love”, but I just take that as a gimme- of COURSE kids need love! I still stand by my answer. The boys have an amazing group of people who are working with them to figure out their little minds and make them the best kids then can be. I don’t doubt that we would be in a completely different place in our journey if we lived somewhere that did not have the same emphasis on education and early intervention that they do here in Minnesota.
So, all the other stuff is just “stuff”.
I don’t want to do without all of it. Some of it I could do without. I definitely don’t feel the need to add to it.
So why then, do I feel inadequate this time of year?
There are so many people who have less, much less than we do. People who do not have their basic needs met, why am I even contemplating what more I should buy simply because it’s Christmas?
Posted: December 2nd, 2012 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Living in the City | Tags: Christmas | 1 Comment »
I really do love this time of year.
I just this weekend turned my kitchen radio from MyTalk107.1 to Kool108 so I could listen to Christmas music and it seems like every other song has me saying in my head “This! This is my favorite!”. I figured it was time to make a list so I could compare next year.
As it turns out, I’m pretty old school in my Christmas music!
In no particular order because I really can’t choose a favorite:
The Christmas Song– Nat King Cole (And really, anything by Nat King Cole. Ever.)
Do They Know it’s Christmas?– Band Aid (Bono. What else can I say?)
The Little Drummer Boy-Harry Simeone Chorale (Judah and I sing this at night before bed.)
All I Want for Christmas is You– Mariah Carey (The fact that this is in what might be my favorite Christmas movie ever is just the icing on the cake.)
God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen/ We Three Kings– Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan (Two favorites singing two favorite? Yes, Please!)
Fairytale of New York– The Pogues (Mists my eyes up every single time I hear it.)
Do you Hear What I Hear?– Bing Crosby (A Classic.)
Carol of the Bells– St. Olaf Choir (The Lutherans really churn out some phenomenal choirs.)
Merry Christmas, Darling– Karen Carpenter (Christmasing with you…)
(There’s no Place Like) Home for the Holidays– Perry Como (I know this is more Thanksgiving, but I like it. Makes me think of station wagons loaded to the gills, skidding down icy roads to Grandma’s house.)
and because I couldn’t *not* include this song (and I couldn’t pick just one) pretty much anyone singing O Holy Night!
So, I guess that is my top 15!
What are your favorite Christmas songs?
Posted: November 23rd, 2012 | Author: Erin Clotfelter | Filed under: Living in the City | Tags: Holidays, Thanksgiving, Traditions | 2 Comments »
I gotta say. I was a little nervous heading into Thanksgiving this year.
I don’t talk about it a lot, but my parents separated and divorced the year after I got married. People always talk about how divorce affects young kids, but no one ever asks how it affects adult children of divorce.
It’s tough. Especially at the holidays when you feel pulled in 20 different directions and all you really want to do is put your foot down and refuse to stretch your time to include everyone because it’s just too stressful. And for the most part, we do that. Most of the holidays we spend with my mom, because that’s really who I want to be with.
She’s “home” to me (whether she believes that or not).
Sometimes Thanksgiving falls on Yogi Dad’s birthday (which is awesome!) and sometimes, it falls on my parents wedding anniversary. Which is the opposite of awesome. This was one of those years.
We usually head to my Mom’s, but this year, in an effort to make things as light and fun as possible, we hijacked the hosting duties and invited everyone over to our teeny tiny house.
To top it off and make it extra awesome, we threw out the turkey and put out a Snacksgiving spread.
Snacksgiving is Yogi Dad’s very favorite type of Thanksgiving. Born one year when it was just 5 of us home for the holiday. Who wants to cook a giant turkey and all the side dishes for just 5 people, two of them under the age of 1? (Well, my mom would, but that’s just her.).
Snacksgiving consists of huge spread of appetizers, hot and cold, not fussy and all AWESOME.
This year we had:
Hot Crab Dip
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Hot Italian Dip
Italian Egg Rolls
Spicy Pineapple Turkey Meatballs
Neiman Marcus Dip
Black Raspberry Jalapeno Jelly over Cream Cheese
a Cheese Platter
Chips, Crackers and Grilled Buttered Bread for dipping
And, because my Mom thinks there should be something “substantial” (because who can survive on appetizers alone? (Um…THIS GIRL!))
Turkey sliders with four different topping options.
And of course, pie:
Apple (with caramel sauce, hard sauce or whipped cream)
(See, not fussy at all. Kickin’ it old school here.)
I also stocked up on beer I like because I was preparing myself for an emotionally difficult day and sometimes a nice beer or three really takes the edge off.
But, it was actually a pretty awesome day.
Judah camped out at the jar of pickled herring for awhile (viking baby FTW!), Sam tried to get the boys to try smoked oysters (This made me think of holiday’s at my Grandpa Howe’s. There was always a can of smoked oysters and while I can eat my weight in herring, you can’t get me to touch smoked oysters.) and Kailey kept the boys entertained. They LOVE Kailey!
And, when it was all said and done, I didn’t have a single sip of anything other than carbonated water until my guests had left and every one of my dishes was washed. It was a completely pleasant, low key, stress-free day.
I didn’t see that coming.
Because of the boys penchant for clearing all surfaces, all of the food was crammed onto our kitchen counter top which left the dining room table for crafts. The kids made tukeys out of construction paper and colored their own Star Tribune Turkey (A Minnesota tradition!).
After that was put away we started a new tradition.
The Table Cloth of Thanks! (Or something like that. I haven’t worked out the official name for this yet.*)
What you need:
1 Table Cloth, light in color works best (I got mine for like $10 at Target)
People who have things to be Thankful for
Put the table cloth on the table. Tell everyone to write what they are thankful for right on the table cloth! Pass the table cloth on to the next person who hosts Thanksgiving and see all of the things people are thankful for over the years grow.
It’s kind of fantastic. And easy. And super fun.
I traced the boys hands this year (Judah’s hands are bigger than his brothers. How is this even possible?) and they did get to scribbling a bit, which is just fine with me- they are kids and part of the family and this is a family thing. (If you aren’t down with errant marks all over your table cloth I would suggest not leaving the markers within reach of your kids.)
My favorite contribution to the table cloth might be Wyatt’s. We traced his hand and when I asked what he was thankful for, he started to spell out words. This will forever in my mind be the Thanksgiving of “Wolf Train”.
The most profound thing to be thankful for goes to Sam:
Because really, who isn’t thankful for Hot Crab Dip?
After everyone was tucked into bed for the night. I finally poured myself a glass of wine and settled into bed with CNN and a box of crayons and the very last turkey to color. I might be 34 years old, but I will never be too old to color the Thanksgiving Turkey in the Variety section!
I hope everyone had a happy and thanks-filled Thanksgiving day! Enjoy your weekend and happy shopping to all of the holiday deal seekers out there!
*I’m taking suggestions though!