Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mellow Yellow

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

TKD and Updates

Jen was right - I broke that board with a running side kick. Right before I did it I had this flashback of being 12 years old, getting ready to do a vault. In both cases, in reality and my flashback, I had to visualize what I was going to do, take a deep breath and start running. Different activities to be sure but the focus and concentration required is similar. The exhilaration I felt when I heard that board SNAP! was incredible. So fun.
I am learning something new every day I train. Today I learned that I have to flatten my foot and not allow my toes to curl up when I do a roundhouse kick or else I'll break the nail on my big toe and OW THAT HURTS! I also learned I better be quicker about avoiding Peter's kicks/punches when we spar or else I'll get kicked in the head.
Don't worry - he just grazed me.
I have a line of bruises on my arm like a nice, neat row of airplanes that are ready for takeoff.
I test for my yellow belt on Friday.

The boys are excited for Christmas and ask me every day "How many more days?". Jack finally put it on his calendar so he can keep track himself. We have an appointment with the ENT tomorrow to take a look at Dean and talk about sleep apnea. We videotaped him sleeping last night for 2 hours so hopefully the doctor will find that helpful. I've been getting calls from the school about once per week that Dean has had some minor accident on the playground - almost always it involves hitting his head. One day he ran into a pole and got a huge knot on his head. Another day he and another kid bonked heads and Dean bore the brunt over his eye so he got a nice shiner out of that one. Just yesterday they called and said they don't even know what happened but he was in the office with ice on his head. Poor little bean.

We built a loft for their bed and they love it. We still have a lot of work to do like painting it and getting some kind of ladder or steps but for now, it looks cool and it allowed us to move all their toys out of the living room and into their room. It was an amazing transformation to the living room!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Broken

Get it?

Monday, December 08, 2008

House of pain

Is where I live. Or, more appropriately, house of trembling thighs and cowering abs.

Today was my third class but my first class as an official tae kwon do student. I received my uniform and white belt today. I also earned my first stripes - an orange stripe for demonstrating my forward fall technique and a blue stripe for demonstrating the 2 self defense moves that I was taught last week. I learned the side kick today, which is much harder than it looks, and we did lots of high kicks which is fun but exhausting. I learned a few more self defense moves and if anyone ever tries to grab me by my hair they'll be in for a world of hurt. My friend peter is my partner in these exercises which is fun, inspiring and challenging all at once. He's nearly a foot taller than I am so it adds complexity to an already challenging exercise.

Oh but it's all good. I have bruises and scrapes and sore muscles that I didn't know existed until now. And I'm lovin' it.

Now I'm off to toss down some advil and hit the sack.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

TKD

Jen wanted to know how I liked my first class.

I think everyone should start their day with kicking and punching! What a release!
It was overwhelming and I felt kind of stupid for much of the time. There's an amazing amount of technique and terminology to learn but it will all come in time. My gymnastics background definitely helped. I will need to let loose a little bit - I'm not used to yelling SAH! and BAH! We didn't do that in gymnastics! I will also need to check my ego at the door, defer to my master (hard for me!), understand that there is a steep learning curve, and trust in my master and fellow student (my friend Peter). That's the analysis that is swirling in my head.

My gut reaction though was THIS IS AWESOME!

My next class is tomorrow morning and I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

TKD

Many, many, many, many, moons ago I met a girl when I was waitressing at that Italian place who was taking Tae Kwon Do and I thought, ohhh, I want to do that someday.

Many, many, many moons ago my dear friend Jenny told me that she met the most fabulous guy at her Tae Kwon Do studio and I thought, ohhh, I wish I could take Tae Kwon Do.

Many, many moons ago my friend Peter started taking Tae Kwon Do and I whispered to myself, ohhh, I want to do that.

Many moons ago my friend Peter broke his foot during Tae Kwon Do and I thought, yikes, but I still want to do that.

Just a few moons ago I summoned the courage to tell my friend Peter that I really want to do that and he made it ridiculously easy for me to do so.

Tomorrow is the day of my first Tae Kwon Do lesson.

And the moon, well the moon is grinning from ear to ear.










And if you're keeping track of moons, this dream is about 16 years in the making. Of course moon time-keeping is not very scientific so you'll have to trust me.

And a huge thank you goes out to my sweet man for supporting me in this endeavor.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dean

Dear Dean,

Tonight was your first solo bath night. Usually, we give you and Jack baths together but lately you've been fighting too much so I told you and your brother that we would be bathing you separately from now on.

What a difference! I sat in the room with you (you're still afraid to be by yourself) and you washed your body and your hair without being told! You poured water on your head (which is a miracle in and of itself), washed your hair and then rinsed it. After washing your body, you soaped up your hands and washed the entire bathtub.

Afterwards, I wrapped you up in two towels and used the hair dryer to warm you up. You deserved it after such a low-key bath.

Now you are sitting with Daddy listening as he reads your Pokemon book. I'm sitting here typing and my eyes are closing, closing, closing. I am tired. Your friend Bennett came over today and you were a very good host. But after games of Twister, Star Wars, Operation, Go Fish, War, handball, baseball, kickball, and tag I am about to fall asleep.

I love you Dean and I'm so proud of you today.

Love,
Momma

Jackie First

Dear Jack,

First born, first home, first to walk, first to run.
First to sleep and first to wake.
Always first.
If competitiveness was a sport you'd surely come in first.

Tonight when I asked "Who wants to take the first bath?" and you pouted "I don't want to take a bath" and Dean yelled "ME!" - I should have known. Because even though you didn't want to take a bath, you still wanted to be first.

So when you parked yourself in the bathroom while Dean took his bath, your jaw set with anger, and pushed around the towels and bath toys and punched the floor, I tried talking to you but it was too late. Finally, I took you out of the room, kicking and grabbing at anything as we went into the living room. Boy you're a strong kid. Daddy was having none of it though and commanded you to stop fighting me and sit down. I went back to Dean and let Daddy talk you down.

After Dean's bath, I came into the living room and saw that you had fallen asleep - your hand clasped in Daddy's. I scooped you up and carried you off to bed. I'm sorry I didn't have the chance to cuddle with you before you fell asleep. Sorry you fell asleep thinking I was angry with you.

Oh you have such a strong will, such determination. It will serve you well as you grow up. I just hope I can keep up.

Love,
Momma

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Free Time

The boys are out with Daddy playing soccer at the park. There's turkey soup bubbling on the stove and I'm debating. Should I go for a run? Should I vacuum the house? Should I crack open my book? Wash the dishes?
Lots of things I should do but all I really want to do is sit here with my laptop heating up my legs.
We're having a great weekend.
In our ongoing quest to make better use of our square footage, we decided we will build a loft for the boys' bed. They are so excited that they're going to have a "cave" under their bed. So, yesterday we went to Ikea (where else?) to look at furniture and ideas. Surprisingly, there was no wait for the kids play area so we dropped off the boys and went browsing. An hour later we had lots of good ideas but nothing to buy so we picked up the boys and decided to go for ice cream. We strolled through the mall and into downtown Burbank. Lots of people in the mall and on the streets but not nearly as many as I expected on Black Friday. After our ice cream, we went into the ancient dollar bookstore to get the boys a book. Jack had his heart set on a science book and combed through all the books intent on finding just the right thing. Dean found a pokemon book right away and his search was complete. Unfortunately, Jack never found a science book but we found one on explorers and decided to get it even though he said he didn't want it. We strolled back through downtown and to the mall. Dean held his book open and looked at it while he walked, oblivious to the bright Christmas lights and music, focused only on pokemon. They both fell asleep on the way home but Dean woke up and insisted we read his new book to him. I did and a new obsession was born. Since then he's been begging for a trip to Toys R Us to buy him a pokeball.
I have to mention a couple of things. First, Dean has been really sweet and good the last few days. Sure he's threatened to run away a few times and he's still quicker with his fists than he is with his words but he seems to be getting over things faster and getting along with Jack better. There has been more one on one cuddle time with Dean lately and I believe it has contributed to his better behavior. Second, Jack's math ability is blowing me away. The other night I was telling him about something that was going to happen in 8 weeks (I have no idea what). He asked me how many days that was and so I told him well, there are 7 days in a week and 8 weeks so you have to add 7 eight times. I asked him what was 7+7? He told me (without using his fingers) 14. Ok, what is 14+7? He thinks for a few seconds and says 21. Very good, I say, what about 21+7? Right away he says 28. And so on and so on until he got to 56. He did it in his head. I know some adults who can't do that (Betty* - I'm looking at you).
Tonight we are going to the Uncles' house for dinner and tree trimming.
The weekend is flying by too quickly. I'm not ready to go back to work. Only 3 more work weeks though and then I'll have 2 weeks off.
Hallelujah!!!
I can no longer sit here with the toys and dust mocking me. I'm off to pick up and vacuum.

* - Not her real name

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pre-Thanksgiving Festivities

I feel compelled to warn you to brace yourself for the following images because the cuteness is crushing!
Let's start with Dean. Today was crazy hat day but he doesn't really have any crazy hats so he wore his Dad's Meet the Robinson's hat. Would you look at that impish grin? Isn't he just pure elfen goodness? Oh yes he is.



But wait! There's more. Since turning six Jack has discovered that he likes jeans and he cuts quite a dashing figure in the new dark denim from Old Navy. Now, here's the funny thing about his hat. When my mom was visiting over the summer she took them to the Gap to pick out two new outfits for school. Jack saw this hat right away and loved it but when I told him I'd buy it for him, he said he didn't want it. But Dean saw it and decided he wanted it so I bought it. I brought it out this morning for Dean to wear for crazy hat day but he didn't want to wear it today. Jack snatched it out of my hands and put it on his head. He wore that hat all day long and looked so gosh darn adorable I almost couldn't stand it. Right? You can't stand it either, I know. Also? What's with the growing? I mean, he's like a kid now. And the two of them looking cool.

Oh I'm not done. Check out my pilgrim.




Oh and here's a really cute Wampanoag. He's doing the turkey tango in this picture. Did you know turkeys can tango? They can.

After the play and Thanksgiving feast, Jack went out to shoot some hoops. He was tossing 'em up one after another. Five baskets in a row.

It was a great day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gobble Gobble

video

We're gearing up for a fun Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Soccer and Party

The last soccer game of the season was today.


Jack is a very intense player. I snapped this just after he threw in the ball.


Dean is pretty happy just to play.

Later in the day we went to the ice rink for their birthday party.

The walkers were great. The kids could get the feel for the ice without constantly falling.

Jack eventually abandoned his walker.
The party was a huge success!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Juggling

I always wanted to learn how to juggle. My brother got a book when he was a kid and he taught himself how to juggle. He's like that though. He decides he wants to learn something and he teaches himself. Jack is that way, too. He taught himself to whistle, to snap his fingers and, most recently, to tie his shoes. I never learned how to juggle - I didn't have the patience or discipline to keep trying, trying, and trying.
I'm juggling now though. The balls are different - various sizes and weights and sometimes there's three, sometimes ten. Every now and then life throws in a bowling pin instead of a ball, just to see if I'm paying attention. I haven't gotten anything as rough as a chainsaw yet, thank goodness. Sometimes all the balls fall and I get hit on the head. Usually it's a little ball like oops, the jogathon is today and I didn't get any pledges for Jack. In fact, so far it's only been little balls but since I don't expect it to get any less busy, I'm going to have to learn to juggle smarter.
********************************************************

I have a little project that I can't seem to get off the ground. I have the idea, have communicated the idea and my partners (and I) are very excited about it. Still, I can't seem to get it going. So, my goal for this week is to do an outline for this project with a schedule attached. Hopefully, with that kind of structure, a little discipline and a lot of support, I can get this thing going.

A friend of mine left me a message this morning about a project he's working on that I offered to help him with. He's excited and really making progress which he wants to share. I'm excited, too and really want to be involved. Where, oh where, do I find the time?

Talking to my dad yesterday I was suddenly struck with an idea. I can't stop thinking about it and yet, how on earth could I add one more thing to my already brimming plate?

************************************************************

I was going to write this week about one of the unexpected gifts of motherhood. In celebration of the boys' 6th birthday, of course. My mind was in the right place on Monday but I ran out of time. On Tuesday night I had the time but my mind was in the wrong place. I was cranky and out of sorts, overwhelmed by all the balls and one lone bowling pin circling overhead. Wednesday morning found me downright pissy and the lovely sentiments about motherhood's gifts were long gone. This morning was peaceful and sweet. The boys cuddled in bed together, their arms and legs intermingled, and they talked and giggled. Two little heads peeked out of a sea of navy blue and I almost got my camera but I didn't want to break the spell.

And that's what it is. An endless cycle of pure love followed by unfathomable exhaustion followed by pure love.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rock Star

I have an idea of what it feels like to be a rock star.

I carefully balanced 3 boxes of mini ice cream cones between my arms and my chin, with my purse slung onto my shoulder, car keys in hand and a paper bag full of individually bagged homemade brownies hanging off one finger. Luck was with me when a teacher opened the door for me and screams and squeals erupted as I walked inside. Nineteen five year olds and one six year old jumped up, hopping up and down all the while screaming about ice cream. Who says kinders can't read?

Jack's class was no less enthusiastic.

Boy was it worth it. Worth the money, the drive, and the time away from work to see milky mustaches and brownie crumbed smiles.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Being Six

So far, being six means that Dean is no longer afraid to go to the bathroom by himself and Jack likes jeans that go all the way down to the tops of his feet.

It also means, for today at least (and the past weekend), that they want to dress alike. They were very handsome and sort of tough looking today dressed alike in their dark wash denim, black batman shirts and black spiderman converse.

They were surprised this morning when we told them that they are now six. I think they thought that they would be six maybe by the end of the day, not so early in the morning before they've even had breakfast. A slow grin crept across Jack's face and Dean suddenly stood up straighter, instantly more confident now that he's SIX.

Their birthday treats today are homemade double chocolate brownies dusted with powdered sugar and I'm going to surprise them with mini ice cream cups from 31 Flavors.

Yes, I'm campaigning fiercely for Best. Mom. Ever.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fires again

The santa ana winds have swept in bringing 90 degree temps and fire danger. Sylmar is affected once again and though we are not far away we're not in any danger - except for the very bad air quality.
We're heading to Simi Valley to see Uncle Bill and Aunt Pauline who drove down today from Sacramento. They were stuck in awful traffic due to freeway closures (from the fires) so rather than make them navigate the detours in unfamiliar territory, we're meeting them there.
In other news, I picked up the boys early yesterday and took them to work to see BOLT in our theater. Tom came too and you know it must be good if he was willing to sit thru the movie two weeks in a row.
So, go see it next weekend!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On my mind

It has been busy, busy, busy at work and I haven't had a second to think about what to get the boys for their birthday. Nor have I had a minute to think about food for their party, or order a cake, or decorations. Maybe tomorrow. . .

We had a delicious dinner tonight: crisp green beans tossed with chicken apple sausage and carmelized onions accompanied by mashed sweet potatoes. Mmmm, sweet and savory. I discovered a new web-based meal planner today called relish! and I already signed up for a 3 month subscription. I'm looking forward to seeing how well I follow it next week.

Monday is the birthday so I've gotta make cupcakes this weekend. I also signed up to do snack every day next week for Jack's class so I expect this weekend will be a busy one. Thankfully, I'm feeling better and coughing less. Even discontinued the cough syrup with codeine. That's for the best - I was having a hard time waking up in the morning.

I'm going to keep writing what I'm grateful for. It reminds me to think positively and helps me to remember what is truly important.

Today I'm grateful:
  • that Tom put an audio book on the power of positive thinking on my ipod so I could listen on my way to work
  • at how well the boys shared their candy tonight after dinner
  • that Tom gave them their baths
  • that I live in a nice neighborhood with friendly neighbors
  • for my health
  • that Jack is healing well following the biopsy of his two moles (it's ok, just being extra cautious and having them biopsied - results next week)
  • for the after care program at school with teachers who are caring and energetic
  • that Tom put the boys to bed which gives me a little quiet time to write
  • for my coworkers who support me, respect me, challenge me and, best of all, make me laugh
  • for the courage to try new things and venture beyond my comfort zone

Monday, November 10, 2008

BOLT!

Me and the hubs had a date Saturday night. We went to the Bolt screening and wrap party. Tom loved the movie and we had a good time at the party. The screening was held at the Kodak theater (ooh la la) and the party was at the Grand Ballroom in the Renaissance hotel. 'Twas fancy.

The movie comes out November 21st - go see it!!!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

History and a Trip

I was too overwhelmed and thrilled to write anything Tuesday night. Wednesday morning I was still in awe, still consumed with reading everyone else's accounting of where they were and how they felt when it was announced that Barack Obama had won the election. I sat down to write something during lunch on Wednesday but I still didn't have the words. And the truth is, I still don't have the words. For nearly two years I have hoped that he would be our next president. But until Tuesday night I didn't really believe it could happen. It has though, it really has and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Other things I'm grateful for this week:

  • health insurance which allows me to go to the doctor when I'm sick
  • cough syrup with codeine
  • antibiotics
  • a sweet home made card from Jack
  • sleeping in until 10am on a Sunday
  • some nice one on one time with Dean
  • Tom's delicious home made beef stew
  • leftover halloween candy

There's more but I am numb and I can't remember anything. I think now I will go pour myself a teaspoonful of cough syrup and slip into my cozy bed and fall into a deep codeine-induced slumber - per the doctor's orders.

See you on the other side.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

An Accounting and Gratitude

Well the month of October passed by with very little action on my little blog with the exception of a few polarizing, political posts. I will be so glad when this election is over. These last few weeks I've struggled with writing. I've started new posts many times and then I just don't finish them. I was bored with my own writing so I could only imagine how my readers were feeling. Yawn. Plus, I really missed reading. A book, not a blog. I resisted it for a while. I told myself I didn't have time and tried to satisfy the yearning with blogs. It worked for a week or so and then I finally, desperately, looked at my stack of books on the night stand (most of which are heavy, difficult reading - not what I was looking for) and picked up "Peyton Place". I fell into it immediately and for a week I couldn't put it down. Funny enough, just a couple days after I finally gave into my craving for a good read my friend Caroline gave me "Eat, Pray, Love", my friend Kathleen gave me 2 great magazines and a book on Buddhism, my friend Paul gave me the script his sister wrote, and my friend Tanja gave me a glossy food magazine she brought back from London. Thus, a stack of unexplored reading material just waiting for me to have a moment to spare. Funny how the universe gives you what you need, just when you need it.

Anyway, looking back over what I've written here lately I feel like I've been whiny, tired, uninspired, ungrateful, even a little angry. Yesterday, I kept thinking of things that I was thankful for - it wasn't something I planned to do, it was completely spontaneous and when I wrote them all down here, I felt so good afterwards. It reminded me that it is so important to give thanks, to appreciate everything - all the small things, the sweet things, to be grateful for what refreshes us, invigorates us, emboldens us, inspires us. I hope I can keep it up.

Today I am grateful for:

  • daylight savings time which allowed me to stay up late last night to watch "All About Eve"
  • to Jack and Dean for managing to stay in bed until 6:30am (adjusted for dst)
  • a playdate with Sophia and Bianca and a delicious brunch prepared by their parents
  • my voice, raspy but still there despite all the coughing, coughing, coughing
  • a rousing soccer practice with Dean and Jack in which Dean scored many goals and went straight for the ball!
  • a clean living room and semi-clean kitchen
  • daylight savings time again which means the boys will fall asleep early (Jack's gone already)
  • more rain that fell during the night that cleaned the streets and freshened the air
  • my patience which nearly ran its course tonight after dinner but didn't
  • my temper which stayed in check all weekend, despite being tested repeatedly
  • Jack who wanted to help me sweep, cook and clean and who never hesitates to ask for more candy
  • Dean who got along so well with his friends today and who showed me more sweet than fiery this weekend
  • that this is the last night of solo parenting - Tom will be home tomorrow (YAY)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Grateful Part 2

More things I'm grateful for today:

  • my patience which came in really handy when the boys' good behavior finally came to an end (come on, you knew it would happen - I jinxed myself with my earlier post)
  • my voice which I really expected to lose after the coughing and the cheering and the yelling to be heard over the fighting
  • my writing which came in handy when I wrote a rebuttal to a posting on our neighborhood message board which was written by our neighborhood busybody (I just don't know why some people spend so much energy being hateful)
  • my neighbors who chimed in after my posting with unexpected support
  • thunder and lighting which made a very rare appearance in so cal today - Jack and Dean were big eyed at the rumbling
  • rain, rain and more rain which we desperately need and which made for an especially cozy and relaxing Saturday
  • The Nightmare before Christmas which is playing now and has both boys snuggled securely on either side of me
  • a stack of unread books and magazines waiting patiently for me to have time to open them
  • two sweet smelling, if a bit phlegmy, boys

Grateful

Today I'm grateful for:

  • waking up with two little blond heads nestled snugly under each arm
  • the smell of rain
  • a cough that is finally getting productive
  • a hot, uninterrupted shower
  • toweling off with a freshly laundered towel
  • a hard rain which miraculously ceased just long enough for the soccer game
  • two no-shows for the soccer game which meant that Dean had to play the entire game - it did wonders for his confidence
  • a goal scored by Jack
  • the other mom who showed up who brought with her a gigantic umbrella and bought donuts for the boys
  • thinking ahead when I bought my car to the days in which I'd have two wet, muddy soccer players climbing into the backseat
  • not really caring that I have mud all over the backseat
  • that the sky cleared up long enough to have a backyard game of kickball
  • that Jack can now do word seek games by himself
  • that Dean can entertain himself with blank paper and markers
  • the chicken tortilla soup that Tom bought last week when I was sick that will serve as our lunch today
  • Jack and Dean who are being really good kids today

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fw: News Alert: Former Secretary of Stat

I was curled up in my favorite chair reading when I received this alert.
It made me happy.
------ Email ------
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Sunday, October 19, 2008 -- 9:25 AM ET
-----

Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell Endorses Obama

In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, former
Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Senator Barack Obama
for president.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/?emc=na

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for the alerts by texting NEWSALERTS to 698698 (NYTNYT).
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Updates

So, this is what's goin' on:

The winds have died down, finally allowing the firefighters to gain the upper hand in fighting the 2 fires that were affecting our area. Families are returning to their homes and affected schools will reopen tomorrow. It could have been much, much worse.

The boys were tired tonight and cranky. Jack told me that he didn't love me, he wasn't going to be my son, would never be my son and was never going to play with me ever again. Ouch. I mean, wow. I'll never get to play candyland with him again? Oh, that cuts me to the core. He apparently forgot all about that later when he asked me for dessert. There's nothing like a little sugar to help that kid drop a grudge. Still, I didn't want him to think he could treat someone the way he did and then just forget it later when it was convenient. We sat on the couch together while Dean finished up his bath and this is what I said: I will love you no matter what you say, no matter what you do. You are in my heart and that will never change. We have a bond, you and I, that will never be broken - that began when you were still in my tummy. You are in me, in my heart and I am in you and I will never, ever stop loving you. Not when you get mad at me and not when I get mad at you. Even when you say things to me that are not very nice, even then. But, when you say things like that it hurts in my heart, it hurts my feelings. Words can be very hurtful so I need you to remember that up here in your head, and down here in your heart. He didn't look at me, just sat next to me chewing on his lip. I know him, though. He's sensitive - more sensitive than he lets on and he heard what I had to say and took it to heart.

Last night was back to school night - the teachers first opportunity to show off the curriculum, the classroom. Jack's teacher was ill so his will be rescheduled for another time which left us with extra time to spend in Dean's room. We heard from other moms that they hear about Dean all the time at dinner time. Apparently there are a few crushes on our little casanova. Sweet. I still don't have any sort of connection with Dean's teacher but I am confident that she is a good teacher and that he's in the right place. It's tough for me because I'm missing that connection but he seems to like his class and his teacher and that's the most important thing. The most random thing happened though! We're sitting there in the classroom and the teacher is just finishing up her spiel when a woman walks in and stands near the door. I glance at her and then again because she looks so familiar. Then I suddenly remember that Tom did an independent film with her a decade ago! I gesture to him and nod my head in her direction. He looks and double takes, looks back at me like WHAAA? So, it turns out she's the room mom for Dean's class. She said she noticed the last name on the class roster and was going to email me to see if I was related to Tom! Small town, right?

Dean got to play in his first soccer game on Saturday. He really had a good time and I'm really grateful to the coach because he wanted to make up for Dean not getting to play for 4 weeks. The other team was really good and they scored early and often. Jack got very frustrated that they weren't winning and especially angry when Dean accidentally ran the ball the wrong way. Jack really hates to lose and even though we don't keep track of the score, he does. Dean's just happy to be playing, doesn't mind sitting out when it's his turn, just wants to have fun. Luckily, the game ended soon after and the coach brought great snacks - tons of fruit (totally ignored by the kids), m&ms, cookies, and juice boxes. Not surprisingly, it turned Jack's attitude right around.

We were lucky enough to babysit for baby Emory on Saturday night so her mommy could attend her movie premiere and wrap party. I had her all to myself for the first hour and oh. my. goodness! She is yummy! We had a lovely time together and the boys were absolutely enamored. They just wanted to stare at her, marvel at her tiny little feet, sweet little hands. They worried at every fuss, every chirp and called me immediately to fix it. Emory's visit turned them into the nicest, sweetest boys and not just toward her - toward us and each other. Clearly we'll have to have her visit us more often.

On Sunday, the boys and I did an art project. We went to the craft store, got some water color paper and paints, and painted fall trees. First we used red, orange and yellow to create a warm, autumn-like look. After it dried we used black paint to create a tree trunk and then, using straws, we blew on the paint to create spindly branches. It was really fun. I discovered the project from a blog and she has other neat projects that I'd like to try with the kids. In fact, she recently posted a halloween art project with silhouettes of spooky houses that I think we'll attempt this weekend.

So, that's what's been going on this week. There's more going on, of course, there's never a dull moment around here but my fingers are getting tired and my attention is waning.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yes I Can and Yes I Did

I just spent my lunch hour making calls on behalf of the Barack Obama campaign. Once I got over the initial jitters (I don't know how people cold call for a living) it went just fine. I only reached about half of the people on my list but the ones I talked to were really sweet. I talked to one 93 year old woman who chuckled when I asked if she would be willing to volunteer for the campaign (it's in the script) and then went on to tell me that she's already sent in her absentee ballot.

It's really easy. You can do it, too. Just go to the Barack Obama website and click on the volunteer link. You can do it while you're feeding the baby (Fish and Eddie I'm looking at you). You can do it while you're updating your blog (Daria?). You can even do it while your husband is gigging (Jen?).

I'll be signing up for another list of 15. Who's with me?

Fires Day 2


We are about 9 miles away from the nearest fire. We are not in any danger. For the folks who live in the hills, many of whom are in my twins club, it is far more devastating and terrifying. Fire crews are working hard but are at the mercy of the wind.

For more info:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/bal-wildfires1014,0,394359.story

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fires

Hi All,

You've probably heard about fires in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Our house is not in any danger although you'd think it was by the way Kate was reacting this morning. The smoke is thick and it smells like everyone in my neighborhood had fires going in their fireplaces last night but we aren't in any danger. The school is keeping all the kids inside today because the air quality is so bad. Hopefully, the winds will die down soon and the firefighters will gain control.

I'll write more later - there is much to update from the weekend like Dean's first soccer game, babysitting Emory, and a nice hike in Franklin canyon.

Later ...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Link Love

This is how I wish I could write. You may not agree with her (or my) politics, but she says it beautifully.

Take a look.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Small Stuff

We had a great night tonight. Jack finally lost that tooth today during school after weeks of daily updates on it's looseness. He was so proud of that first lost tooth, so proud that he saved it, so excited about what the tooth fairy would bring. Then we forgot to put it under his pillow. Bummer. We'll have to make a big deal of it tomorrow night.
We had a final doctor appointment yesterday to check Dean's arm and got the great news that he was cleared for all activity with no restrictions. He'll get to play in his first soccer game on Saturday and he can't wait. He was really sweet tonight. He heaped loads of praise and love on all of us tonight. At one point during dinner he started playing a little game.
Dean - Whoever is in Ms. R's class, raise your hand! (Jack raises his hand)
Dean - Whoever works in Hollywood, raise your hand! (Tom raises his hand)
Dean - Whoever sets up offices, raise your hand! (I raise my hand)
And then declared that he has the best parents in the world, the best brother. And he's so proud of Jack and his lost tooth.
They each asked if we could celebrate this weekend. Jack wants to celebrate his lost tooth and Dean wants to celebrate his healed arm. I told them that we certainly should and would celebrate this weekend.
We ended the night with a little ice cream and then a couple of books.
It was a good night.

Big week

Jack lost his first tooth and Dean's arm is all healed up!

Great Speech by Bruce Springsteen

Take a peek.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dean

Dear Dean,

It was another rough weekend for us. I have to admit that I was at the end of my rope this morning. Your friend Frank came over for a playdate on Sunday and you were just miserable. I think you had a very specific idea of what you and Frank would do and I suspect you weren't factoring your brother into any of your plans. When Frank wanted to play with Jack, well that really upset your apple cart and it was very hard to get you past it. You spent most of the playdate angry and screaming in your room. Finally, when Frank was nearly ready to leave you came out of your room and Frank said to you, "Did you throw your bad mood in the trash Dean?" and that was about the best thing anyone could have said to you. Gosh, I wish I had known that trick ages ago. You chirped "yep!" and skipped over to the table to get in on the snack action. From then on it was all love and smiles and a sicky sweet voice that left me shaking my head - partly in awe and partly in exhaustion.

I was all ready to peck out a testy little post this morning about what a difficult weekend we had. Then I read a post by this American woman who lives in Jordan with her husband and three daughters. The post was to her youngest daughter, to honor her on her third birthday and it was the sweetest post about how she thought when she found out that she was pregnant that this third child would be the cherry - the first was the ice cream, the second the hot fudge and now the third, the cherry. But she has turned out to be so much more than just a cherry. She's the whole 31 flavors. I was suddenly struck with the terrible feeling that I haven't been honoring you very much lately. In fact, it seems like all I ever do is complain and that has to somehow seep into your consciousness. What a terrible burden to lay at your feet.

I vow to do better. It is true Dean that you are a boy of extremes and that you sometimes make things more difficult for yourself. But, that doesn't negate the power behind your high wattage smile. It is during challenging times that I need to tune into the depth of your soul and remember the softness of your heart. I need to be mindful that your anger masks a deep sensitivity, that you are independent and spirited and those qualities will serve you well when you become an adult and those same qualities require of me a greater understanding and deeper commitment to nurture. To soothe anger with love, understanding and caring rather than trying to stamp it out with more anger. Throwing fire on a fire only builds a bigger fire.

This is my promise to you, Dean. That I will respond to your fears with calm understanding, your anger will be met with love and nurturing, and I will have a tank of patience on reserve. You deserve my very best - nothing less.

Love,

Momma

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Looking Up

The days are getting easier now that we're nearing the end of the 3rd full week of kindergarten. According to Tom, drop offs are getting easier and quicker. This week has been great for pickups. Moods have improved, the boys aren't so grumpy and it's just generally easier when we get home. They're doing well with their homework and starting to recognize their 'high frequency' words (here, is, the, a, an, see - for example). Dean has figured out how to buy lunch and now they both want to buy their lunch and I just pack a snack for them. It's easier on all of us.

I am relieved. It was a rough couple of weeks. But this week I feel like I got my sweet boys back. I hope it lasts.

I'm tired. Tom is sick with a bad cold. Yesterday Dean complained that his ear hurt and his throat was scratchy. Tonight Jack said he had a headache which is always the symptom he has before he gets a fever. My nose is itchy, my throat is scratchy and my eyes feel sore. I should go to bed but after watching The Daily Show and Real Time with Bill Maher I still haven't had my fill of snark so I'm staying up to watch The Colbert Report.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Miracle bones

A mere 2 1/2 weeks after he broke his arm, Dean is already in just an elbow pad.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

39

Today is my birthday! We celebrated last night by going to Wilshire Restaurant with Paul and Colleen. I had the black mussels in red coconut curry broth for an appetizer and the miso marinated black cod for my entree. Oh my, it was good. I had the appropriately named 'birthday cake' for dessert. The waitress told me that I didn't need to order the birthday cake just because it was my birthday. I know, I replied and for a second wondered if I should choose the homemade ice cream trio instead. But, in the end I made the right choice. The cake was delicate and light, thin layers of white cake alternating with deliciously sweet and tart lemon cream. The frosting was sweet but not cloying, decorated on top with white chocolate filigree. Accompanied by a swirl of raspberry sauce it was the perfect ending to a delicious meal.

Today I'm taking it easy. There is laundry to do and the usual chores of cleaning, straightening, etc. but for right now, I am going to sip my coffee, browse the internet, and just relax.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Transitions

This transition from preschool to kindergarten is harder than I thought it would be. And now that I re-read that, because of course I'm re-reading it I can't ever stop self editing, it isn't so much the transition from preschool work to kindergarten work that is difficult. It's the transition from a small, intimate caregiving situation to a large scale, institutional caretaking situation that I'm having a hard time with. I remember my friend Lisa worrying when her son Frank was about to enter kindergarten, not about the work and whether he'd be able to keep up, but rather she was worried that he wouldn't be loved or valued for the unique, special boy that he is. I find myself worried about the same thing. I know they are capable of the work, I know they have the fine motor skills for writing and I'm not worried about them learning how to read or tie their shoes. I know those skills will come in time. Instead, I wonder if Dean's teacher finds him charming and sweet or thinks he's too mouthy and disruptive. I am also more worried about Dean than Jack which is a little surprising to me. I was concerned that Jack would have a hard time being separated from Dean. I reasoned that Dean is so independent and just as happy to play on his own as not and figured that he would get along fine. And he is and the surprise is that Jack is fine being on his own. Which is great! So why am I obsessing?

Because I have no direct connection to either of their teachers and I feel out of the loop about how they are managing the work, the rules, and mostly the change from the organic and holistic philosophy to an institutional one.

I do like their school and everyday when I arrive, they ask for 5 more minutes so they are clearly enjoying their after-school care.

I know this is good for them. I know this experience is less traumatic for them than it is for me. I know that learning to navigate in this larger environment will provide the building blocks for their ability to manage change in their future. I know, I know.

Somehow I have to resolve myself to this new phase of our lives and embrace the challenges.

I'm working on it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Some Accounting

Remember this post?

Well, the competition has been going pretty well. I owe my boss about $25 in itunes gift cards but she owes me the same amount in sephora, so there.

We are in a dead heat, she and I. We've both lost 3 pounds since we started our little contest. I haven't exactly stuck to my exercise everyday goal but I'm making very good food choices and I am exercising at least 3-4 days per week.

October 31st is the deadline. So far, so good.

The Weekend so far

School is exhausting. The boys have been tired, whiny and complainy every night but they are having a good time. Every night that I've picked them up they've gotten mad that it was time to go already so that's a good sign. Doesn't make it easier on us but that's ok.

We have a special visitor this week - Grandfather came into town on Tuesday. We haven't been able do much with the boys in school so all our hopes were pinned on the weekend. Then the birthday party that we were supposed to go to on Saturday night got cancelled. So we decided we'd try to get tickets to the Hollywood Bowl for Saturday night but the computer wasn't working Friday night so we couldn't get online to get tickets. No problem though, we figured we'd just get tickets Saturday morning. A little after midnight, Jack stood next to my bed and complained that he was hot. I lifted my head off the pillow and then he threw up on it. The pillow, not my head. Thank God. I ushered him into the bathroom with him throwing up on the floor and in his hands along the way. I got him cleaned up while Tom worked on the mess in the bedroom and I went into Grandfather's room to get Jack some clean boxers. Dean was sleeping with Grandfather and he heard me come in. He climbed out of bed and started complaining that his stomach hurt. I walked him into the bathroom and to the toilet where he proceeded to throw up. Whew - disaster narrowly averted with him. The two of them sat on the side of the tub looking a little green and I wondered who was next. I'll spare the suspense and just tell you - Tom. Tom was next. But thankfully, he was also last. We got everyone cleaned up and settled down and I decided to leave all the sickees in my room and I camped out on the couch. I didn't sleep well because I was just sure I would be next and I hate getting sick. Luckily, aside from a little heartburn and slight nausea, I felt ok.

Surprisingly, the boys woke up Saturday morning feeling fine. They put on their soccer clothes and we headed off to the game. After a brief practice session which Dean got to participate in, they started the game. We played the "sharks" and I began to get a little worried when I heard their coach say "Sharks - ATTACK" just before kick off. Attack? They're 5! I needn't have worried though. Jack sat out the first quarter but our team scored anyway. In the second quarter Jack and his teammate each scored a goal. Then we scored another goal in the third. Coach told the kids to stop trying to score when we were up 4-1 so when his son was about to score again he suddenly turned the ball around and ran it the other way, accidentally scoring for the other team! But it didn't matter because it was the end of the game. Even though there is never a winner declared, the kids know the score. Each team did a cheer for the other and then they shook hands and said 'good game'. Dean dribbled the ball all the way back to the car.

After all the excitement of the previous night and the early morning game, we were all pretty beat. We ran a few errands and then went home to take naps and veg in front of the tv. The boys didn't take naps but they played fairly quietly so the rest of us could. Jack opened his rock store and Grandfather and I each bought some rocks. I went out to Target to treat myself to a new pillow and while I was at it, I decided to treat myself to some new sheets, too. I thought I deserved a treat.

Grandfather is leaving tomorrow and we haven't shown him much of a time. But we've had a nice visit with him and the boys are really going to miss him.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Arm Recap and Soccer

I'm worn out. I should finish up the kitchen but first I want to fill in the blanks here.

I was standing on the playground 10 feet from Dean when he made his ill-fated jump on Thursday. I couldn't figure out at the time what happened. It looked like he jumped but then why did he crumple to the ground? Why wouldn't he have landed on his feet? Was he pushed? I racked my brain trying to remember if there was another little kid behind him. Did he just lose his balance and fall? He complained that his head hurt, too. Did he hit it on the platform as he fell? I couldn't figure it out. The entire time we were at urgent care I had these questions running through my head. Dean wasn't much help because while most of the time he said he jumped, there were a couple of times that he said he was pushed. He also, in typical dramatic fashion, wailed that "I knew there was a reason I didn't like this school". As you read that sentence, make sure you elongate the 'ool' in school and add a little whine to it.

It wasn't until hours later when Dean and I finally made it to the restaurant to get a bite to eat and I was talking to my friend Janet, who was also there when it happened and who was a huge help in getting all our stuff out to the car so we could go to urgent care, when I finally realized what happened. He wasn't pushed, he didn't lose his balance - he jumped. But the missing link is that above the platform from which he jumped is a bar that snakes away from the platform to another part of the playstructure. It's so kids can swing like monkeys from bar to bar. Except, Dean didn't pay attention to those bars so when he jumped, he hit his head on the bar. That startled him and he drew himself up into a ball and reached up to rub his head, then realized he was in mid-air so started to put his feet down but by then it was too late - he landed on his left side and the left elbow took the brunt. He immediately started screaming and it was the kind of sound that you know means something bad. He was trying to rub his head but it became clear really quickly that the main problem was his arm. He had his shoulder pulled up high against his ear and he was holding his arm with his right hand. My initial thought was that he dislocated his shoulder. In fact, I held onto that thought right through the first round of xrays until we got the results which showed no problem in the shoulder. Then we took off his shirt and I noticed immediately the swelling near his elbow and that's when I thought "oh shit".

Luckily, the doc said it was a simple, clean fracture and he didn't expect any complications.

Throughout all this, I somehow managed to stay super calm. Like, extremely calm. My voice stayed low and quiet, I didn't shake, I didn't have to fight back tears. I held him, soothed him, even carried him when he asked me to. Jack was like my little sherpa. He carried our bottles of water and our snacks. He didn't hesitate, never tried to argue - just did what I asked. When their friend Draeghan (from the daycare) came into urgent care with a cut on his chin and then came into our room to play with Jack, I managed to stay completely calm despite the noise and chaos. Getting the final diagnosis was a huge relief and once Dean had a temporary cast to protect his arm, I could finally relax.

Ever since? I've been an anxious mess. My heart's racing, I can't catch my breath. It's so like me to fall apart once the crisis is over.

I gave myself a time out today. I told the boys that sometimes mommys need to take a time out too. That sometimes I just need to take a moment to find the good in me again. It worked well.


*********************************************

And, in other news . . .

The boys had their first soccer game on Saturday. Dean couldn't play in the game but I had him "suit up" and while Jack practiced with his teammates, I practiced with Dean. The coach included him when he could, too.

Jack did really well. He listened to the coach and he hustled after that ball. He had a blast.


Here's Dean getting ready to start practicing.Jack had just finished the practice session and was ready to play the game. He was also really hot and had just dumped half his water bottle on his head.

Jack is ecstatic after scoring his first goal!

Jack kicks it out to his teammates to run down field.

Dean shoots and scores!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Casting call

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Kindergarten day 2

Well the 2nd day of kindergarten brought an unexpected twist. As I stood on the playground talking to another mom, Dean leapt off the playstructure platform, bonked his head on the bar above and fell to the ground landing on his left elbow which resulted in a humerus distal fracture - fancy talk for he broke his elbow. We spent a couple of hours in the urgent care clinic and he is now resting comfortably. Poor kid really went through it tonight and was a trooper. Jack was great too - very helpful and understanding. Tomorrow, I will take dean to the orthopedist to have a permanent cast put on. Luckily, it is a small, simple fracture that should heal without any complications. We're really grateful for that.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

First Day of School

Today was a big day for the boys. It was their first day of kindergarten. Jack was really excited. He got up right away, got dressed, and ate his breakfast. Then, he cleaned his bedroom. Dean was a little quiet, didn't seem as excited. We got to the school just as Dean's class was filing into his room and Jack's class was lining up outside his room. I kissed them both goodbye, told them to find each other at recess and lunchtime, told them I love them and they're going to do great. Jack went in by himself only glancing at me twice. Tom walked Dean into his room and got him settled. Then we went back to check on Jack. He was sitting at the end of the table with his head in his hands, face red, clearly trying so hard not to cry.

Oh, it just broke my heart.

We waved at him through the window, blew him kisses, flashed him the OK sign and thumbs up. It was really hard to walk away.

I was thinking about them all day - wondering if they were ok, were they making friends, were they still feeling scared and nervous. Finally, it was time to pick them up. Of course they were fine. They both like their teachers. I had an opportunity to talk to Jack's teacher and she said he did just fine. She said he paid attention really well. They are in the after school care and they both liked that too.

We went out for ice cream after and then had our first soccer meeting. The boys got their uniforms, met their coach and got to kick the ball around a little. Then we picked up Tom at the bus station and went to dinner.

Tonight as the boys were falling asleep, Jack told me that he liked kindergarten but that he almost cried. We talked about how it's ok to cry, it's ok to be nervous. Tom came in and told him that his assignment for tomorrow is to go to another kid in his class, introduce yourself and ask what their name is.

I thought I was ready. I didn't cry when it was our last day at the daycare, the boys are well prepared, we've been prepping them and so did the daycare. Even as we walked into the schoolyard I felt fine, they were ready. It wasn't until I saw Jack sitting in that room with his hands in his face that I thought, no, I'm not ready for this. I can't take not being there to help him navigate this.

Can you imagine how I'll feel when they go off to college?

But today, they made me so incredibly proud.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

I have a lot to tell about our Labor Day Weekend but my self-editing button is on so I'm going to just power through this without thinking.

We got to the campsite (near the Sequoia Nat'l Forest) at about dusk. Our friends had just gotten there and set up their tent so they helped us put up ours. We had stopped for dinner along the way so all we had to do was set up and then chill. The boys played with glow sticks and ran around the campground while we caught up with our friends. We didn't pay much attention to the other campers around us. There was music playing at every campsite but it didn't seem intrusive. Finally, at about 11:00 the boys and I went into the tent to get some sleep. We all fell asleep pretty fast despite the competing Metal bands. Sometime later though, the noise from the surrounded camps seemed to get louder. Then, I heard this collective intake of breath followed by the sickening sound of a truck braking fast and skidding (as well as one can) on dirt and grass. Then a girl started screaming that the driver of the truck ran into her tent and could have killed her. Another couple of guys chimed in and told the driver that that's just not cool - he could have killed her and he should go over and apologize.

That's when I got the first inkling that maybe this wouldn't be the quiet, restorative commune with nature that I so anticipated.

But, everything looks better with morning light. So we got up, had some breakfast and prepared for our afternoon on the lake. Which. Was. Great. There were about 18 of us on a pontoon boat and we just hung out on the lake, floated on rafts, did a little fishing. It was really relaxing. We went back to the campground just before dinner and relaxed by the pool for a few minutes. Jack learned he could float on his back. He started out by swimming on his stomach and then he'd spin to his back and finish swimming on his back. It was pretty awesome. The boys played on the playground while I made dinner. We had a great dinner under the stars and even managed to make some s'mores despite not having a true campfire. We played The Guy game and watched the stars. Soon it was time for bed. We tucked ourselves in and I hoped that we'd have a nice, quiet night. Once again we fell asleep quickly. At some point I was awakened by really boisterous from the camp on my right, a TNT Saturday night movie roared from the camp behind me (yes, a TV was brought into camp and even a satellite dish - how completely sad), and ridiculous rap music blaring from the camp to my left. Somehow all the camps got louder the later it got. Kids walking to and from the bathroom chattering all the way walked right through our campsite. It was the worst camping etiquette possible. Dean and I woke up bleary eyed (just me really, he slept right through it all) and while we were getting dressed a group of giggly girls walked right by our tent, giggling and being annoying and Tom yelled out this very guttural "GET AWAY FROM THIS TENT!". I looked over and him and saw his shoulders shaking with laughter and then our friend Brian chimed in from his tent "Tell 'em brother!". It seemed to work though because they stopped walking in front of our tent after that.

After everyone got up and we had breakfast, we took off for the Sequoia National Forest. We drove into the park and hiked down to see General Sherman, the world's largest tree. It was incredible. We also saw a bear cub and his mama. He was really cute. Then we went to the Crystal Cave. We had a 20 minute hike down to the cave and then we had a 30 minute tour of the cave. It was amazing. It was about 50 degrees in the cave which felt really good after the 90 degree heat of the campground. After the tour, we had a little snack down by the waterfall and then began the big hike back up to the parking area. The guide told us it was equivalent to walking up a 30 story building and he wasn't kidding. Then, back to the campground for dinner and stories under the stars. We had high expectations this night. Surely, everyone must be tired, too tired for loud music, tv and chit chat.

As usual, we hit the sack at about 11:00 and I swear I'm not kidding about this but as soon as we got in there, the men from the camp to our right suddenly started telling stories - loud, raucous voices telling stories of their own stupidity. It's like they were waiting to raise their voices until we went to bed. I know that sounds very egotistical of me as if the world revolved around us but seriously, they were speaking in hushed tones until we went to bed. It took me about an hour but I finally fell asleep.

And now we're home and I'm really looking forward to a quiet, full night of uninterrupted sleep.

I loved camping and I can't wait to do it again but we will definitely choose a more remote area the next time.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cauliflower Soup

Adapted from the Silky Cauliflower Soup by the Smitten Kitchen



Ingredients:
2 T Olive Oil
Small onion, chopped
2 Cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 Cups of low sodium chicken broth
1 Potato, peeled and cut in 1" cubes
Head of cauliflower, stalk and leaves removed, coarsely chopped
3/4 Cup of milk, heated
1/2 Cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic until soft, not browned - about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add potato and let simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add cauliflower, bring heat down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. You can also puree in batches in a blender of food processor but let the soup cool first. Stir in heated milk and parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Accountability

Ever since I hurt my foot, I haven't been running. And, when I hurt my foot, it was the first time I had been running in months. So really? I haven't been running for like a year. In fact, I ran last year in the triathlon and pretty much haven't been consistent since then.

Here it is a year later and I'm nearing my 39th birthday. 39! Seriously? How can I be turning 39? I'll be eligible for early retirement in 16 years. I don't even know what I want to do yet!

Anyway, back to the running thing. So a year of relative inactivity accompanied by a laissez-faire attitude when it came to food has resulted in my, well, gaining a bit of weight. Now I'm not putting this out there so you all will chime in and tell me how good I look and you can't even tell because the truth is I hide it well. The reality is - I have a muffin top and it ain't pretty.

But I'm going to put a stop to it! This here is a declaration that I will no longer stuff my face with doughnuts, bagels slathered with cream cheese, handfuls of chocolate, and despite my love of all food Italian, I will not gorge on prosciutto, pancetta, fresh mozzarella and freshly baked bread everyday for lunch. I do not need to eat the two cookies that come with the lunchboxes in working meetings! They're not even that good! Salads will become my new best friend. Water will be my constant companion. High Fructose Corn Syrup is the sworn enemy! HFCS - you're on alert!

But that's not all! I also vow to get back in shape and plan to exercise every day. Now don't worry, I'm not going to go out and run 5 miles for 3 days in a row and then let a raging case of shin splints sideline me. I'm going to be smart this time. I'm going to take it slow, do a little at a time, increase my speed and endurance only after I've been at this consistently for 4 weeks. I'm going to incorporate strength training. Dara Torres is my new hero!

This new regime began today. Despite it being a Saturday, I set my alarm for 6:30 so I could go for a run. Plans started derailing almost immediately when I woke up at 6:29 and reset my alarm for 7:00. But then Jack got up and I thought, hm, maybe I'll take him with me and he can ride his bike while I run. So, that's what I did and it worked great. I didn't get much of a workout in because he had to stop quite a lot to scratch his head, rub his knee, rest his hands, smell the mustard, tell me a story. The good thing about that though was that it forced me to take it easy, stop and rest, and that will keep me from overdoing it and injuring myself again. Then when we got home I did 3 sets of 20 swings w/ the 10 lb. kb, 20 squats with the kb and 20 pushups. By the 3rd set my legs and arms were shaking.

Not making poor food choices was a bit tougher. I haven't been to the grocery store in 2 weeks so I was out of staples. It was almost 1:00 and we hadn't had lunch and I was really close to saying we should go for takeout. But then I remembered I had a cauliflower in the fridge and a recipe for silky cauliflower soup that I wanted to try. O my goodness, it was so good and super easy. So that's what we had for lunch with some cantaloupe and watermelon for dessert. Later, while we were out running errands, we decided to stop by Jamba Juice for a snack. Normally, I don't even think about how many calories are in those things but I did today. Despite my ever-loving lust for Peanut Butter Moo'd, I chose a more sensible drink that had much fewer calories and still managed to get brain freeze from slurping it up too fast.

Have I lost you yet? I know, it's boring reading about someone's weight loss plan. I'm yawning while I type it. But I have to get it down so that maybe I'll hold myself accountable for once.

So? How long do you give me?

Birthday Night

Yesterday was Tom's birthday. We had nothing spectacular planned - it's tough to do something big on a weeknight. We decided that steak would be good and, since we had the boys with us, went to Black Angus for a family dinner. The boys were exhausted and after they had a few bites they laid down in the booth and fell asleep. It was just us looking across the table at each other, laughing about Jack's rock store, about Dean's characterizations, and something about the way the light flashed in his eyes reminded me of us 15 years ago in a similar booth when we were still dating, unfettered by such awesome responsibilities.

How amazing is it that I fell in love with that man? How remarkable is it that after all these years, through some really challenging times, I'm more in love with him now than I ever was?

Happy Birthday my love.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Punk Rock Store

Jack's been collecting rocks all summer, saving them in a box and keeping them in his cubby. A few days ago, he brought his collection home because he wants to sell them. I told him that most people don't buy rocks because they can usually just find them when they need them. His response was, "yeah, but this way they don't have to find them".
Good point.

This is Jack getting his merchandise ready for sale.


Here he is in our front yard a.k.a. Jack's Rock Store.

Some kids sell lemonade - my kid sells rocks.
He made $4 dollars that night. Never underestimate a box of rocks.

Punks

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Widelawns

Is it wrong that I've had cartoons on the TV for the last 3 hours so I could read widelawns?

You should go read widelawns, too. But, I warn you. You will not want to shut down your laptop.

Believe me, I had to tear myself away just to write this very short post.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Friends

People often ask me how I was able to stand being in the hospital for 2 months on bedrest.
Answer: friends. Friends who visited me, brought me news, books, gossip, lotion. Friends who rubbed my feet, kept me company, made me laugh.

Friends came through for us after the boys were born, too. They donated blood for Jack and Dean. They helped Tom demo and rebuild the bathroom. They pooled their money and paid for someone to finish the tile work.

I was overwhelmed - with the generosity of our friends, the roller coaster emotions of having two preemie babies, the upside down schedule (or lack thereof), the medications, the monitors.

I'm not sure I ever properly thanked everyone. In fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't.

I can't go back in time and thank them now. Instead, I'm paying it forward.

My sister-in-law wrote on her blog today about a friend of hers whose child is fighting leukemia. You won't find a better cause to give your charity dollars to than the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Here is her friend's donation page.

If you can't afford a donation right now, then please keep her in your thoughts.

Conspiring

Dean


There's nothing like a refreshing swim on a hot day and then being wrapped in a soft, fluffy white towel. This is why I love summer.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Mom's Visit

It's hard to believe that our week with Grandma is coming to a close and she'll be going home tomorrow. We have had a very busy and very fun week. It started off with a trip to Knott's Berry Farm on Friday. We went on rides, ate treats, saw a mystical show and took the boys on their first bona fide roller coaster ride.

Saturday, we went to a bowling birthday party followed by a trip to the local swimming pool. Sunday, we spent the entire day at the beach. It was awesome. We played in the surf, dug in the sand, played football, ate sandwiches and oreos by the handful. At one point, mom turned to me and said she didn't care if we did nothing else all week but go to the beach. The boys were doing so well with the waves that we decided they were ready for boogie boards. It was a beautiful day.

Mom was on her own with the boys on Monday and when I came home, I was bombarded by water balloons! I took Tuesday off and we went shopping for school clothes (yes, it begins already!) and then went to our friend's house for an afternoon of swimming and then dinner. Wednesday, she was on her own again and then we went to see Mamma Mia! that night with my friend Colleen. Ok, the movie was a little cheesy but fun - especially seeing it with my mom. We went out for a quick drink after the movie and regaled Colleen with old mom/daughter stories.

Thursday we headed back to the beach but first we stopped at the sporting goods store to pick up a couple of boogie boards for the boys. Jack was chomping at the bit to get in the water. He didn't want to wait for us to set up the blankets, put on sunscreen, pop up the tent - nothing! Oh, it was fun. Again, we played in the surf, dug in the sand and ate sandwiches and cookies. Late in the afternoon, all four of us were out in the water - mom and I trying to boogie board on the boys' little spongebob boards. I almost lost my bikini bottoms but man, was it fun!! We were laughing so hard as we tried to pick ourselves up off the ocean floor. Those waves were rough and we just couldn't stay on our feet.

I had to work today so mom took the boys to the library and then they just hung out at home. They baked a cake and played games and then mom made homemade fried chicken, horseradish mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner. MMMmmm, my favorite.

The evening wound to a close with mom starting an epic tickle session followed by her reading bedtime stories to the boys.

Tomorrow we'll be up early to drive her to the airport.

We'll miss her.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Grandma!

Grandma comes today and the boys are so excited. Hopefully, it will ease Jack's disappointment over not getting to go to Disneyland with daycare today. I felt awful but I just couldn't see spending $120 for them to go when I can take them there for free. And, I wasn't that thrilled with the idea that they'd be at Disneyland, with all the crazy crowds and stroller wielding parents, without me to watch over them. It's the classic case of "they're only safe with me" but, that's just me.
Tomorrow we're going to Knotts Berry Farm and that should help. Ironically, I don't think Jack cared that much about Disneyland per se but was mostly disappointed that he didn't get to be with the big kids. He wants to be big so bad.

Last night, they were whiny and cranky as usual but the night before that? They were sweet and lovey and absolutely delightful. We stayed outside all evening after dinner (no TV - yay!), got out the telescope and looked at Jupiter and the stars. It was so wonderful. Dean and I laid on the chaise lounge while Jack gazed at the universe. Of course, they had taken naps that day (earthquake day) and that makes all the difference.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

5.4

We had a moderate earthquake here this morning. I checked on the boys and they are fine. No serious damage to report, no injuries, no casualties.

Everybody's ok.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekend Update

Last week I complained to Tom that there was a spot right between my shoulder blades that didn't feel right. He started pushing around there with his all-knowing fingers and announced that I had a rib out and should go to the chiropractor. Yes, I nodded, took a muscle relaxer and went to bed. I followed up that advice with two nights of carrying sleeping children from car to bed and a trip to Costco. A trip to Costco which included about 40 pounds of meat.

I imagine the formula goes something like this:
2(35) + 2(35) + 40 = MY BACK IS KILLING ME!!!!

I have a 3:30 appointment with the chiropractor.

**************

Remember when I casually mentioned last week that 5 years old was kicking my butt? Well, it still is. Saturday was especially rough. Tom went into work and it was just me and them. They apparently don't want to be siblings anymore because they repeatedly tried to kill each other. However, they must not have wanted it badly enough because they didn't move from the couch when I commanded them to go to the middle of the living room and beat each other up so we could just get it over with already.

C'mon, I'm just kidding.

Or, am I?

Luckily, their friend Callum desperately wanted them for a playdate and his mother generously suggested that Tom and I make a run for it. We didn't even ask, really, are you sure?

We went shopping which is so much more fun when you don't have to mediate arguments between children. We even managed to find curtains for the living room (FINALLY!) and new decorative pillows! And, thanks to a heads up by Kelly Clarke (thanks Kelly) we saved $50 because of the friends and family coupon! Or, the pessimist might say we spent $300 that we wouldn't have spent otherwise (thanks Kelly). In any case, I'm very excited to put up my new curtains just as soon as I can lift my arms above my head.

After our shopping excursion, we decided to really take advantage of our free time and went to see The Dark Knight. It was really good but it might have contributed to the back issue because it was so intense that I kept having to sink down in my seat, cover my eyes and grasp Tom's arm firmly - only to sit back up again when things lightened up a little. I walked out of that theater with shaky knees and not just because of the way Christian Bale fills out that batman suit.

Finally, we headed back to Callum's house to pick up the boys. Lucky for us (and future free, I mean, playdates), the report was that the boys were really easy, had a great time and it was almost easier having the 3 of them than it would have been to have just Callum. It looks like we have more "playdates" in our future.

The next day, with the exception of a few minutes in Costco, the boys were really good.

This is a phase, right? When they turn 6 they'll be lots of fun again, right?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Free Association

Five years old is kicking my butt. Today I found myself thinking wistfully of the baby stage. Maybe it's because two of our closest friends just had babies.

Could I please stop self editing? Holy hell it's driving me crazy. Constantly going back, delete, delete, delete. Rephrase. No wonder I'm feeling creatively blocked!

I'm feeling creatively blocked. I compose posts in my head all the time - on the way to work/school, on the way home, as I'm falling asleep at night, as I'm washing my hair in the shower. A constant stream of words go through my head and, in my head, they sound fantastic. But by the time I finally get a chance to put them down on paper - the words escape me and I find myself hovering over the delete key more than anything else. It's making me nuts. The words are there.

Then I stop what I'm writing and re-read what I've written. Why? I don't know. I wish I could write what's in my head. It sounds so much better there. Oh, gotta go flip the chicken. Nope, not ready yet. Maybe if I just brainstorm? Free, free, free - what is that expression? freestyle? no freemind? no what is it? god, that's going to bug me. free association. Thank goodness I figured that out.

So what is this post about? My stifled creativity or how 5 year olds are kicking my ass? Let's first start with the stifled creativity. So, I'm constantly composing posts in my head - we've covered that. Then, by the time I sit down to write I'm too tired. By then, it's 10:00pm and I'm bone tired without a creative trickle left, let alone a stream. I also long to start reading again. You know, great books, great fiction, great non-fiction. Great writers. But I don't have time. I don't have time to seek out great work and, if I had something great to read, I'd fall asleep by page 5. Instead, I read blogs. Tom wonders what I'm doing whenever I have the computer on my lap. I feel stupid saying "reading blogs" but it's what I like to do. I'm sure he wonders what I find so fascinating about other peoples' lives - people I've never met. But, some of them are brilliant writers and I always feel like my soul is a little nourished when I read something beautiful, something thoughtful or brilliant. I crave that.

I'm sitting here looking at my bare walls and I so badly want to fill them but am waiting to be inspired. By what? I don't know. I want to put something up that makes sense, that suits us, our home, our lives. I want art but don't know what kind. Photography? Prints? What? Pictures of family? It drives Tom crazy that we haven't put anything up yet but I don't want to just throw something up on the walls just to cover them.

Then I see something in a magazine - a cool cabinet with carefully, thoughtfully collected mementos and inside my head whines "i want that".

I used to hate quiet. I always turned the TV on even if I didn't watch it, just to have some noise. Now, I long for quiet. It soothes me. I love leaving the lights off in the house with just one light on, just one pool of light that casts shadows into the living room or hallway. I can breathe.

Tomorrow I'll probably hate the fact that I wrote this. Will wrestle internally with uncertainty - should I leave it up or take it off? I could make it private. Do I care? Is it part of me? Does it deserve to be shared? Would anyone benefit? Does it matter?

Will it hurt anyone? That's the most important question. Only me. Will it?

I love my life. I just wish I had more time to nourish my soul.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Catalina Island

Of course I went! And I fully intend to do it again next year. It was awesome!

I needn't have worried about the boat. It was a big boat, the water was smooth and the boys did just fine. I brought along some freshly grated ginger and whenever I felt slightly uneasy, I ate a pinch of ginger and it calmed the waves (of nausea).

We didn't spend much time in the town of Avalon but just headed right for the beach. The kids frolicked in the waves and I took pictures. The water was cold but once they got in, they were just fine. After a few hours of beach play and lunch, we headed over to the cove so the older kids could go snorkeling. Jack and Dean both said they wanted to snorkel but we couldn't get Dean to go down the steps. He stayed with Amanda instead. Jack insisted he wanted to go but only with me. So, I got into the water (FREEZING!!) and held onto him while he came in. The combination of the cold water, floating kelp brushing his feet, slippery algae on the steps, the too-large snorkel mask and the darkness and depth of the water was too much for him though, and he got very scared. I put him back up on the step and one of the older kids walked him back up the steps and wrapped a towel around him. He was worried about me so he stayed at the top of the steps and watched me snorkel until I finally climbed out after 20 minutes. I don't fault him for freaking out. That water was cold and it's very disconcerting to navigate behind a snorkel mask. But, I'm hoping that they'll do it next year when we go back because the fish are spectacular and I know they'll want to see it. I don't much like breathing through that tube though. Made me hyperventilate.

The only stress-inducing moment was when the 18 of us had to sprint to make the 3:00 ferry. We made it with just a couple of minutes to spare. I wouldn't have minded being stranded on Catalina for another couple of hours though. It was real purty.

I'll put up a couple of pictures as soon as I can figure out why Blogger is sending me error messages.