Thursday, April 30, 2009

Behind the scenes

Over at my other place today I am sharing pictures from a photo shoot I hosted in my very own basement. Check out homemade fitness equipment (plus four cute kids. and a glimpse of me. and also a glimpse of my messy basement).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rear view

Suebob asked the other day whether we "bathe in past glory, or nakedly march into the future."

I responded that most of the time, I am too busy with the present to spend much time on either the past or the future. I realized that as a parent, I have become both more and less nostalgic than I once was. If I grew too attached to all the kid stuff in my life, I would DIE in an avalanche of clutter. So I purge, often. But there's really no way I can bring myself to throw away an old envelope on which Opie wrote (really wrote!) "JO JO."

Thank goodness for my blog and my mother. The latter has organized, edited, and printed all of my digital photos from the past 7 years and put them in albums for me. And the former helps me remember that time we went to the "requarium" at SeaWorld and saw the Shampoo show.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The eyes have it

The other night while we were watching TV, a mascara commercial came on and my husband said, with equal parts incredulity and disgust, "Who wears that stuff?"

"I do," I answered. "Pretty much every day."

He really couldn't believe it. I didn't know whether to be flattered, or bemused at his lack of awareness.

Mostly I just thought it was funny, because after all I don't wear mascara for him. It's for me. A little makeup (whatever can be applied in less than four minutes) helps me feel like the face in the mirror matches the one in my mind's eye.

Call me shallow, but I don't see anything wrong with that.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Shredded cheese

Time for a shredhead update!

Time for me to hang my head in shame and report that although I have been working out, I swear, and watching my food intake, I swear, it's, uh, not working. I've lost just a couple of pounds in almost two months of near-daily workouts. For all of March I did the 30-Day Shred, and this month I am doing a combination of Bob Harper Biggest Loser workouts--Cardio Max, Body Sculpt, and Weight Loss Yoga. Plus I take a power vinyasa yoga class at the Y twice a week, and according to my activity computer I accumulate at least 60 minutes of activity (walking, stair-climbing, pushing kids on the swings, etc.) several days a week.

So it's discouraging, to say the least. I'm still committed to continuing to work out (I'm supposed to be an expert, after all). At this point, I am in the habit of waking up early and putting in 20-30 minutes of exercise; and Jo is also in the habit of waking up and observing. I have extra motivation to get up because I don't want her to be up for no reason other than to watch some extra TV. Of course, knowing that we are both up means that Opie needs to get up too. He also needs to crawl under me every time I'm in downward-facing dog and to stand close enough to me to get hit in the head with hand weights on a regular basis.

Hmm. Maybe that would explain the lack of progress. The good news is that I do feel more fit, my muscles always have that slight bit of soreness that tells me I worked them, and I can now do headstand and crow pose. These are probably more important victories than the stubborn numbers on the scale but I'd like both kthx?

I just read a post about research showing that consuming blueberries can help reduce belly fat. Dude, I eat blueberries almost every single day for breakfast and still have a totally flabby gut. Don't you hate reading advice and tips and realizing you're already doing everything there is to do, and why on earth isn't it working?!

Julie pointed out that the blueberries probably need to be baked into muffins to have the most effect. I'm trying that next.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Clearly the child should have her own blog

When I went on a trip to Urbana illanou. My uncal said my hol famliy cood see a huge mashing called Shop Bot work.
In orter to make it work my ant Amy, hoo is an artist, and I had to cerate a dasine. We drew a bunny for a dasine on her conprter. My ant Amy sent the dasine on her conprter to my uncal. My uncal uploaded the bunny dasine into the Shop Bot. The Shop Bot cut the bunny shap out of a picee of wood.

Then we took it back to my ant and uncal's house. To pant it with my ant. We panted it wite and this weekend we will pant it with pingk spots.

I named it Stefeany.
The end.

By Jo and My Dad

(Editor's note: Opie got a plane, natch.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Enough to send the very best

Scene: The locker room at the Y, one of my very favorite places evar.

OPIE: Do Crocs care?

ME: Do they care? About what?

OPIE: No! Do they care!

ME: Um. About what? Do Crocs care ... about what?

OPIE: NO! Do. Crocs. care. You know! Do they care about this foot or that foot?

ME: Ohhh. Yes, they need to go on the right feet. This one goes on this foot and this one goes on that foot.

OPIE: Why do shoes care and socks don't care?


Back from a weekend away. The score: 12+ hours of driving, 1 unnecessary detour, 0 (!!) potty accidents, and 1 hour of kid car napping. That last was due to the portable DVD player, which I alternately want to marry and throw out the window of the moving vehicle, preferably when driving over a large body of water.


Five Star Friday

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Minor league Mayberry

We observed the first Monday of "spring" break with a minor league baseball game. If you've never done this with your kids, it's totally worth it even if you have less than zero interest in baseball (as I do). It's way easier than a major league game, in terms of parking, stadium size, and cost (and in our case it's at least 90 miles closer to home than the nearest major league park). The ballpark closest to us is clean and very kid-friendly; it even has a playground.

Plus, the goofy activities and cheesy (more on that later) promos are nonstop. Kids can't get bored by the slow pace of baseball when pretty much every inning includes a giveaway, race, or contest.

And when you are freezing your butts off in the bottom of the 5th you can just pack it in and go home, no harm done.


Free baseballs! (Note empty seats. A staffer we talked with was so pleased we were there he handed each child a real! baseball!)

We win a cheesy giveaway (afraid to actually eat them, so far).

I'm telling you, the excitement NEVER STOPS: a cannon that looks like a bratwurst on a bun and shoots packages of brats out into the crowd.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Packed up and ready to go

We won't be leaving for my brother's place for a few days, but yesterday Opie packed a bag. Stuffed it, actually: "So I'll have choices, Mommy." Here is what he wants to bring:

  • 2 pairs shorts (how optimistic)
  • 1 pair pants (also optimistic, given the limited success of potty training thus far)
  • 3 short-sleeved shirts
  • 2 long-sleeved shirt (it goes without saying that none of the above articles of clothing actually match each other)
  • 1 pair football pants (from Halloween costume)
  • 1 football jersey (from thrift shop)
  • 1 Superfriends coloring book
  • 1 rubber dog-nose mask
  • 2 pairs faux pilot goggles (a spare is important)
  • 1 string Mardi Gras beads (turquoise)
  • 1 6-inch-long piece of grosgrain ribbon (striped)

I guess I'll be packing the socks and underwear in my luggage.


Like Mrs. Chicken, I feel strange posting something frivolous today. I've been unable to write about Maddie (and now Thalon) in part because a silly, petty feeling weighs on me--that every mention of them is a tacit, although certainly unintended, exclusion of so many others: other babies who have been lost (yes, including my own), other families suffering other tragedies, too numerous or too unknown to mention. None of it is fair, none of it. But all I can do is enjoy the children I have.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter morning bedhead

If you're looking for charming Easter pictures of my shiny-haired children (and why would you be unless you are my mother), move along. They both had the rattiest, sticky-uppiest, messiest cases of bedhead this morning. Jo's was reasonably decent by the time we went to church, but Opie's ... forget it.

It actually reminded me of the day of my grandmother's funeral. My brother was in the middle of one of his months-long bike trips and for whatever reason had decided not to cut his hair or shave his beard until he completed the trip. Just try to picture the result of the combination of bike helmet, sweat, and longer and longer hair, day in and day out. Trying to whip him into shape for the funeral, my sister and I each took a huge handful of hair gel and attacked the wiry mop on top of his head. It worked about as well as my attempt to flatten Opie's locks this morning.

And it's still cold here. Which inspired a haiku.

Breath visible on
sunny Easter morn -- want a
nice cool Eggsicle?

"Spring" break ahoy this week (finally). In a few days we're off to visit my brother, who these days has hair so short that hair product is entirely unnecessary.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Roll with it, baby

The only decent picture from the roller rink party, and it's not even of the birthday child.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Gossip girl's birthday party roundup

If you don't like gossip, you can skip this one (I'll probably delete it in a few days). If you're in more of a Dorothy Parker mood and would like to sit by someone who doesn't have anything nice to say, stick around.

We had both kids' birthday parties this weekend, one Saturday at home and one Sunday at a roller rink. Saturday I had to clean up vomit (canine) before the party. Sunday I had to clean up crap (human) before the party. I'm glad we didn't have a party on Monday because I wasn't interested in mopping up any blood.

Since Opie wanted to have his party at home, we kept the guest list small--a bunch of his friends from child care plus a few neighbors. The response was abysmal. Out of nine kids, only one showed, and only three others actually sent regrets. At the last minute I invited some other neighbors, a family of four kids--thank God, because they made up pretty much the entire party.

Luckily, Opie didn't seem to care. His best buddy from school was there (and his parents did some heroic schedule-shifting to make that possible). He had a Superman cake and a Superman pinata and everyone got to wear a cape.

Jo's party was the opposite. Her guest list kept growing as she begged to invite "just one more" kid from her class. And all except one replied in the affirmative. Which, fine. The roller rink was a dirt-cheap venue: $5/kid. (The place clearly has changed neither its decor, or its music selections, or its prices since 1985.)

(Here's where the gossip comes in.) A few days before the party one of her friend's moms, who I know, called because she was having transportation issues. We eventually worked out that the child's cousin would bring her to our house, then we'd take her to the party; another friend would take her home. Easy.

Then another mom calls--someone I don't know at all. And she gives me chapter and verse on her recent hysterectomy/gallbladder surgery/"total abdominal reconstruction" and how she can't drive and is there any way I could ... ? So I say yes, of course, we can pick up your daughter and take her to the party and bring her home.

I'm glad she asked for help and I was glad we could offer it. I really didn't need so many details. But it got better. An hour before the party--when I was cleaning up the aforementioned crap, which happened to land on the one small patch of white carpeting we have in our house--Hysterectomy Mom calls back. This time she wants to know if her son can tag along. She'll pay for him, he can just skate, etc. Once again I get a whole saga of a bad night's sleep, Xanax didn't help, yadda yadda. I quickly calculate whether we can fit all of these kids in our station wagon and determine that we can. So I promise to pick up the birthday guest and the brother in half an hour.

We pile into the car and I am wedged into the front passenger seat with a huge box filled with goody bags and party favors. I can't move at all. We get to the kids' house and I make Jeff get out to say hello to the kids and the mom. She comes out in her pajamas and proceeds to pull from her pants pockets:

two drainage pouches filled with pus.

Like we needed proof that she had had this surgery. Good gravy. Really, how do you respond to such a thing? We backed out of the driveway as quickly as we possibly could. I think she was still talking about how many cc's of fluid she needed to allow to drain before she could have the tubes removed.

At the end of the party, some other mom volunteered to take those two kids home.

We said yes.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Golden boy

I never heard of the "golden birthday" tradition until mine (my ninth) had long since passed, and always felt just the littlest bit cheated.

So: Happy GOLDEN birthday, Opie. Can it be that he is four? On 4/04? As my younger child, it's much harder for me to let him grow up. He is still my littlest boy. I still carry him on my hip and sway him to sleep. He burrows into my bed nearly every night and I secretly love it.

Yet every week after his music class, his teacher notes that he "was a big helper with the smaller kids." Smaller kids? He IS a small kid! But this year, he gave up his Nuk. He dresses himself (capably, if not fashionably). He rides a bike. He recites whole pages of his favorite books. He makes up stories and songs and games. He sometimes--God help us--wears big-boy underpants. He can write his name!

Happy fourth, my beautiful boy. Your future is bright, and you make me smile like no one else can.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Seven years of good luck

I took these pictures on the morning of Jo's first birthday. I wanted to remember exactly what she looked like at that moment: Simultaneously eager to explore the world, and pensive too.

Six years later, her personality is much the same--95% go-getter, 5% ponderer. She doesn't tumble head-over-heels into things without thinking, but she does have confidence and self-possession in spades. (And yes, this is borderline obnoxious, so we work on knowing when to speak up and when to let others have a turn.) Despite her small size, she holds her own in a classroom full of children as much as three years older. She is fearless when it comes to swimming, climbing, public speaking--all those things that so many adults have trouble confronting.

Since turning 6, she's lost many of her front teeth and, famously, her appendix. She's become a strong reader and continued her interest in math and science. She has discovered a love of the stage (big surprise; see #4 below). She likes to get up early in the morning so she can spend a little extra time with me (and of couse, provide helpful comments) while I am working out. One of the best treats we can give her is to let her sneak downstairs after Opie is in bed and snuggle up on the couch to watch "a decorating show."(The other best treat we can give her is to let her watch any show, 24/7, but that doesn't happen except under extreme duress--e.g., hospitalization.)

She just brought home a huge stack of papers from school. These four cracked me up and deserve to be recorded here for posterity.

1. Name badge from field trip to hospital--the picture is of her in the CT scanner, or as she called it during her hospital stay, "the doughnut machine." She was in there 5 times last summer. I think she drew a pretty good likeness.

2. Recently adopted signature. I thought this didn't happen until about age 10.

3. "Writer's Workshop: Tru Storry," meditation on the theme of "making a mess."

4. "My Dream"

Happy birthday, Jo. May all your dreams come true, even the ones about getting your "her" done and wearing "macop."

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Shreddy Eddie

I did it!

OK, I mostly did it. I missed 3 days out of 30 on the 30-Day Shred. But I also did 75 minutes of vinyasa yoga twice a week for all four weeks. And I've been testing out a watch/monitor that tracks active time; I reach 60 minutes most days (that includes marching in place in my bathroom at 11 p.m. when I realize I am up to 57 minutes).

I didn't take before/after pictures, but I doubt they'd match the amazing results shown by Kristen, Christina, and Nancy (among many others I'm sure). I still have the flab spilling over the waistband of all my pants, although I do notice that I am not quite as desperate to switch to PJs in the evening as I was before. (Small victories, people. Small victories.)

Still, I am very glad I participated. I'll put up my lessons learned over at my fitness blog on Thursday (got an April Fool's post planned there today!). And as of today, go Team Bob!


Continuity updates:
  • We are getting a fat tax refund. I know that's not, actually, a good thing (means we've been lending our $ to the feds all year) but this was an unpredictable year for us, income-wise, so we're going to take the money and run. And smile. And pay some bills.

  • Two birthday parties planned for this weekend. So far ALL of Jo's invited guests are yesses and ONE of Opie's is. Scrounging for additional 4-year-old boy invitees now. Jeff hand-made 10 Superman capes and we have no one to wear them! snif.

  • I never did cut anyone off Bloglines. Am total addict.

  • Most importantly: Our grocery store rescinded its dumb policy about reusable bags. I found out when I went to the website to deliver a scathing e-mail.

Lots of good news. No foolin'. Hope you get some today too.