Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Life Lessons Learned at the Gym

Yesterday started with high hopes for a busy day that included me as a Trophy Wife, MeToo as a research participant, naps in the car,and orientation for one of our favorite daycare teachers who will be dog sitting for us. Well, some of those things happened. I went to the gym feeling not great, but told a fellow mom (Hi Jenna!) “If I work out for even 30 minutes,I’ll consider it a success.” Well, I made it just past the 30 minute mark. So I guess I have to call that part of the morning a success. Any time life breaks my stride, I tend to observe things I otherwise wouldn’t have. Yesterday this was good and bad, depending on how you look at it… In the interest of finding joy in every day, I’ll focus on the good and share some life lessons highlighted by my trip to the gym.

  1. Set reasonable goals. Acknowledge when you meet those goals.Be open to surprising yourself and surpassing them, but don’t beat yourself up when you can’t. Celebrate your accomplishments.
  2. Bend at the knees, not at the waist. Especially if you’re butt-naked in a gym dressing room and there are people (like me) standing immediately behind you. Not only is it better for your back, it’s better for the eyes of people standing behind you.
  3. It’s best not to share all of the intimate details of your life with strangers. This applies not only to your girl-parts at the local gym, but probably also applies to reality TV, credit card numbers, and innumerable elements of your identity. Other people will appreciate your sense of privacy,too.
  4. Save the close-in parking spots for people who really need them. If you’re a healthy 20-something, the old ladies and the mothers carrying two bucking and screaming toddlers will appreciate not having to walk 2 blocks to their car. I mean, seriously, look around the gym. It’s a bunch of octogenarians and harried-looking stay-at-home-moms. Certainly it’s easier for you to walk to the auxiliary lot than them.

Ok, so those lessons aren’t earth-shaking. But I certainly won’t forget them any time soon. Especially rules #2 and 3. Some things just get seared into your visual cortex and need time to be forgotten.

Have you learned any valuable life lessons at the gym?

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Joy of New Things in Old Places

We spend a lot of time in the Arboretum. I like to think of it as our other front yard. The big one across the street. But our side of the Arb is very hilly. This is good for working out, but not for riding a tricycle if you’re 2 and 3 years old. So yesterday we took a family excursion to the opposite end of the Arboretum, where it’s flat and more conducive to toddler trike rides. 2 adults, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 tricycles, 1 Honda CRV. We made it work.

I’d like to think we know the Arb pretty well. We walk the dogs there. We take the girls to go jump off granite “rocks” there. We sled there . I run there (well, when I’m in running shape and the weather’s nice…) BestestHusband's getting to know the tree collection quite well. But it’s nice to find new things in old places.

We found a section of the Arb where they’ve done some renovations. They’ve put in some new rose arbors and created a little secluded arena surrounded by rose bushes that will be so charming when everything starts blooming. The girls saw open space and just started running. It was a freeform game of full-family “chase”. The girls were shrieking, the dogs were barking, everyone was running and laughing. It was one of those moments that you freeze-frame in your mind and pray that you remember it when you’re 90 years old and the family all lives too far away. Now that we've found the rose arena, I plan to return often.

Anyway, the girls were having too much fun running, and weren’t interested in riding their tricycles back to the entrance. So I got to ride a tricycle again. For the first time in years. And perhaps the last time for many more years…

The race is on!

If you haven't tried riding a tricycle recently, you should!
Any surprising discoveries this past weekend?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Start of Stewardship Sundays

If you grow up in the Lutheran Church, like I did, the word “stewardship” is a dirty word to some. They read it at “$teward$hip”, or “let’s talk about why you should joyfully give a lot of money to church and charity.” Now, I do think that cheerfully giving away a set percentage of your yearly income is a very good thing. To church, to charity, however you feel you can joyfully give, it does a lot of good for a lot of people. Including you, the giver. But that’s a blog post for another day.

I like to think of “stewardship” in a broader sense. To me, it asks the question:  “How did you take care of everything you were given this week?” This includes time, opportunities, relationships, my talents, and yes, my money. How did I spend time with my family? How did I use my time to help others instead of frittering it away? Did I spend our money wisely?

I was inspired by Frugal Girl’s Food Waste Friday concept, where every Friday, she uses her blog to hold herself accountable for wasting food. She takes a picture of the rotted stuff she finds in her fridge and uses the public eye to shame herself into being a better steward of her food budget. Now Frugal Girl is way more advanced in the frugality department, and doesn’t live in a big East Coast city with increased cost of living. I’ll never live up to her standards of stewardship. And besides, I have my Ikea addiction. But I can try to reflect more on how I use my resources on a weekly basis. I’m thankful that we don’t live paycheck-to-paycheck, but I sometimes feel like I live alarmclock-to-alarmclock. I don’t feel like I’m in control of time, I feel like it controls me.

So I’m going to start using my Sabbath day, Sunday, to reflect back on my stewardship of the previous week as I plan and look forward to the upcoming week. So perhaps you’ll see some rotten food. And hear the failures and triumphs of trying to use time wisely. 

Anyone want to join me?

My food waste this week:
2 onions
half a red pepper
½ a carton of chicken stock
2 inches of ginger root
a few mini carrots
some romaine lettuce

The carrots were slimy, and the rest is self-explanatory.

I think these are also self-explanatory

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Death of Perfectionism

What do you do when you have 12 pictures to hang in a semi-symmetrical formation that will dominate the wall of your bedroom, and you discover that your laser level and old-school bubble level disagree? If you’re me, you swear a bit, fight the urge to cry, and remind yourself of why you’ve let those 12 pictures sit in a box in the corner for more than a year.

But the girls were at daycare, I was at home, and I'd sworn I’d hang those pictures THAT DAY. So again, what do you do when your laser level and bubble level are at odds? Swallow any remnants of perfectionism and just get the dang job DONE. It’s not like the wall will fall down if the photos aren’t hung PERFECTLY...

So I decided to agree with the laser level. I could at least put in on a tripod and have it project nearly-level lines on the wall for me to use. That required 2 less hands than using the bubble level. (2 extra hands I didn’t have.)This turned out to be only the first complication.

The second complication involved difficulty with measurements and calculating how far apart to put nails. You may have heard about my love of Ikea storage containers. Well, I also have a love of Ikea frames. The problem is that they are made with odd dimensions. One frame was 5 and 6/16 inches by 9 and 3/16 inches, and another was 10 and 1/16 inches by 16 and 11/16 inches. Try calculating nail distances when you have to divide the frame widths by half, add them together, and add a spacing distance in-between. Then try actually getting the nail in that place given you have a not-quite-level level and no extra hands to assist you. In the next hour before you need to pick the girls up from daycare.

The process was not pretty. I had to silence the nagging voices in my head that said things like:
“Don’t put extra holes in the wall!”
“It needs to be symmetrical, but not TOO symmetrical!”
“The pencil marks on the wall still show after you erased them! See, that spot’s a little shiny!”
“It needs to be artistic, but not TOO artistic!”
“The highest frame on the left side is an inch higher than the highest one on the right!”
“Are you sure you picked the best pictures? Maybe you should go have some others printed…”
The finished result? It’s passable if you aren’t a perfectionist. It’s a nagging annoyance if you are.

So sanity requires swallowing perfectionism. This is a lesson I learned when I had my second child. Toddler + newborn = barely controlled chaos. Graduate school destroyed most of my Type A tendencies. Having more than one child killed the rest.

Yay! Wedding photos are up! Dang, we look so young...

I think I might want to replace the smallest frames, they look a little chintzy with the rest...

So I’m happy with the results. The photos are on the wall instead of in the corner. My scientist BestestHusband who evaluates small errors for a living? I think the jury’s still out…

And yes, I know that the big frame above the bed’s empty. I still need to print more photos. But it’s above the bed! I need really good photos! The pressure’s still too much for me…

The room still needs some work. What do you think it needs? Sconces over the bed? Interesting lamps on the nightstands? I'll take any advice I can get!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pleasant Surprises

Today started out on the wrong foot. My 25 lb throat warmer made a visit in the night. When she wasn't busy trying to warm my throat and face, she was twirling my hair and generally just poking me enough to keep me from sleeping well. So I did NOT greet the gray foggy morning with a smile. Of course, I don't usually greet mornings with a smile in general, but this morning got a distinctive frown and grumble. 

But I was determined. We WOULD get out of the house and enter HeyMama into the BPS Lottery. (Bigmoneybigmoneybigmoney NO WHAMMIES!) No time for the gym or general hygiene. This was a morning for throwing on some clothes and getting out the door!

So we did. BestestHusband missed his bus, so we all bundled into rain gear and headed to the car. BestestHusband got a ride to the train station to get to work on time, and then we dashed to daycare to get a copy of HeyMama's immunization report. They had told me that they could take her at daycare today. After Tuesday's plumbing crisis, they offered to let her fill an open slot that they had today. 

This is where the pleasant surprises come in: 

  • They had an open slot for MeToo, as well. 
  • Both girls wanted to stay and play with friends.
  • I was able to go to the school registration center without any kids in tow.
  • There was no line when I got there.
  • The guy was very friendly and helpful.
  • The round-trip time from leaving daycare to leaving the registration center was 30 minutes. Total.
  • I have the rest of the morning to myself WITH NO KIDS!!!
  • The heavy rain didn't start 'til I got home.


What to do with all of this time to myself? Probably laundry. (Sad, huh Shannon?)
And I will hang those pictures that have been sitting in a box on the bedroom floor for the last year. (No, really. I WILL! I'll even post pictures when I'm done!)

But I did learn a few things while talking to the nice BPS guy. I apparently picked the perfect time to come to the office to avoid a wait:

  • I avoided the first and last week
  • I came during bad weather

But according to him, "There could be a blizzard the first week and there'd still be a line out the door."
It doesn't matter when you come during the open registration window; it doesn't improve your chances of getting a better placement number. It does affect how much time you spend waiting to register. So applying on a whim apparently turned out to be a good plan. That's another pleasant surprise! And unfortunately a reinforcing consequence to my procrastination...

Happy Friday! Hope your day is full of pleasant surprises!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Playing the Lottery

So on a last minute whim, we're taking the plunge. I kept telling myself that we didn't need to worry about it because maybe we'd move back to Texas. Or I could become a Blogging Bazillionaire and send the girls to private school. But alas, we're entering the world of nail-biting suspense known as the Boston Public School Lottery. Where you throw your name into the giant city-wide hat and find out which school you get picked to go to. That cute elementary school down your street? Off-limits if your number isn't picked. Yes, my friends outside of Boston, it really is as bizarre and unbelievable as that. No, I take that back. It's actually more bizarre than that. The whole system involves concepts such as North, East, and West Zones, walk zones, sibling preference, random numbers, and wait lists. 

I'm sweating and nauseous as I type this. Is it because I'm nervous, or just because I'm staring at a tiny iphone screen on a lurching train? People visit dozens of schools before entering the lottery. And we're just doing it on a whim. I haven't visited a single school. Not one. What if I screw it up?!

Ok. So HeyMama's only old enough for K0. (That's public preschool for you non-Bostonians.) And the available slots are few. And not in our neighborhood. I'm pretty sure we're not going to get a slot. But it's called a lottery for a reason. If we win, we win big. Free full-time preschool. Maybe even in that new experimental school with tons of arts and mixed-age classrooms. The odds are slim. But all we have to lose is the time I'd have to wait in line to register. Which is admittedly valuable...

But hey, let's live dangerously. It's good experience for trying next year, when K1 matters more and I'll be disappointed if we don't get in.

So wish us luck. 

Bigmoneybigmoneybigmoney NO WHAMMIES!

Bedtime Prayers: Redundant, or Just Very Thankful?

Here are tonight's bedtime prayers:

HeyMama:  "Dear Jesus, thank you for Jesus. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen."

MeToo:  "Deh Desus, tank oo for Ehmo, Mandy, Tamin, Mama, Daddy, Mandy, an' Tamin. Amen."
[translation:  she's thankful for Elmo, Mandy, Cameron, Mama, Daddy, Mandy, and Cameron]

What do you think? Redundant? Or just really thankful?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Joy of Doting Daddies

Today was another classic day with the girls. It started out as Christmas in Late January (Jen, we got the box of clothes early this morning! You rock!!!), transitioned into a Trophy Wife late morning (good to run into you Lovey!), and devolved into a long-string-of-running-battles afternoon. (Jackie, the play date was a Godsend, but daycare Craft Night was cancelled because of lingering plumbing issues, and the girls really could have used that nap they didn't take.) Which led to an early evening of watching-the-clock-til-Daddy-comes-home, followed by a here-you-finish-the-bath-and-put-them-to-bed-early-while-I-run-screaming-out-of-the-house late evening.

Ok, so I didn't run out of the house screaming. But I did bolt out of that bathroom pretty quickly after BestestHusband came in. The dogs still desperately needed a walk, and I needed to return the Shaun the Sheep video to the library. How's that for multitasking? Brisk walk + walk the dogs + return stuff to the library = cross 2 things off my ToDo list without resorting to a glass of wine. I don't like walking in the cold, but the winter-that-hasn't-come-yet gave me a calm ice-free night. And I usually am thankful that I made the effort once I get out there.

So the dogs and I trotted down to the Square, a nice person ran the DVD into the library so I didn't have to get yelled at for bringing the dogs inside, and we headed back home. I love looking into the windows of houses in the evening. I'm usually just looking for decorating ideas or trying to see if the insides of homes look much like their outsides. (Frequently in Boston, they don't. The old housing stock here can frequently look shabbier on the outside than the inside. Surprises await when you cross thresholds.) But passing one house, I got a glimpse of people. I didn't stop and ogle. I didn't want to be a voyeur, I glimpsed enough to get the idea:  a father sat on the couch, reading a book to his two little girls. The girls looked maybe 6 and 8 years old, they were in their jammies and all three were draped over each other, definitely in full-on snuggle mode. It made me smile the rest of the way home.

There are few things sweeter than little girls with Doting Daddies. I have two such little girls whom I love very much. And they have a Doting Daddy whom I also love very much. Watching them adore each other is one of the great joys of my life.

I am blessed to be surrounded by Doting Daddies. Our church is full of them. They bounce and sway with babies. They fill their laps with clingy children. They do diaper duty. They herd antsy children to the nursery. They sit in the 2 year old class and do hand motions to "Jesus Loves Me". They fill plates for kids at potluck meals.

Our friends are Doting Daddies. They toss maniacally-laughing but slightly-too-heavy-for-this kids up in the air until their shoulders give out. They take kids out for Saturday brunch so moms can get together to finish projects. They take kids to soccer and swimming at the Y. They cook breakfast pancakes. They pack lunches. They try really hard to make morning hair into pony tails and find reasonable outfits that little girls want to wear (hah! good luck with that one!). They work very long days, then come home and do dinner and bedtime. They help brush teeth, then snuggle together to read books. Lots of books.

My own father is a Doting Daddy. As is my father-in-law. And brother-in-laws. We're surrounded by them. For us, they're the norm. But I know that they haven't always been, and aren't the norm for everyone.

So I'm thankful for that evening walk, and the briefly glimpsed Doting Daddy in my neighborhood. And especially thankful for all the Doting Daddies in my life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I’ve recently come to the conclusion that every family needs a source of flexibility. No I’m not talking about yoga, although that type of flexibility is definitely good for me, and I need more of it. I’m talking about the ability to suddenly stretch your day’s plans in event of emergency.

Now the word “emergency” can vary a bit, and there is definitely a spectrum:
  • Your child ingests an allergen, and is ambulanced to the ER in anaphylactic shock
  • You go into labor and need someone to watch your first child while you deliver your second
  • Your child has a high fever and needs to be picked up from daycare
  • The daycare plumbing has gone out again and the state regs have determined this to be an unsanitary emergency situation that requires closing daycare
  • Your child puked at bedtime, seems ok, but isn’t eating and probably shouldn’t go to daycare the next morning

In these situations, where does your flexibility come from? The first two are pretty straightforward; in a true emergency situation, your friend or neighbor will drop everything and come to the rescue. Rare and desperate situations will give you the leeway to greatly inconvenience the lives of others. And they’re ok with it, because it’s a rare and desperate situation.

But the other situations begin to tax your volunteer pool. I have wonderful friends who would leave work early if I called asking them to. But would I really call and ask them to leave work because my kid has a fever? Or the daycare plumbing is on the fritz again? Or because my kid’s kinda sick, but not really sick enough to make me want to stay home? This is the true test of family flexibility.

So far, I’ve concluded that flexibility comes from three sources:
  1. From within your family:  you, your spouse
  2. From extended family:  your parents, siblings, cousins, and friends that are part of your extended family
  3. From hired sources:  nannies, Parents in a Pinch, etc.

You’re really fortunate if you have all 3 options available. You have lots of flexibility. But if you don’t have a lot of money, option #3 isn’t available. And if you don’t have family nearby and all of your close friends also have busy demanding lives, #2 becomes a challenge. Which leaves #1. You have to be your own flexibility.

This was illustrated today when our daycare’s plumbing backed up again. BestestHusband and I both have busy days on Tuesdays and Thursdays; he’s leading meetings, and I’m frequently working in almost-downtown with a tight schedule of patients to treat. When daycare called, I was with a patient (and my phone was not on me), and BestestHusband was in a meeting (not answering his phone). So daycare started calling my list of emergency contacts.

They were all out of state. Two of them had moved. (Sorry Jenny about that call today!) The third was out of state at a funeral. Hmm, it appears that I need to update my emergency list a bit. And consider where I can get some more flexibility…

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am the primary source of family flexibility. It’s a matter of necessity, considering geographical distance of family, and the economics of income potential in our marriage. I did purposely choose a career that would allow this flexibility. But this arrangement isn’t perfect, as today proved yet again.

Are there other sources of family flexibility that I haven’t considered? Anyone want to volunteer to pick up my kids the next time the daycare plumbing is on the fritz? 

Why Do Mommy Bloggers Blog?

One of the big complaints of moms is “I don’t have enough time for ME!”
But if this is true, why are there so many Mommy Bloggers? Why would they waste their precious spare moments on the computer?

I think I can answer this one.
Because we’re allowed to think that someone’s actually listening to us.

We know at home that no one is listening.
Here are a few sample “conversations” that I’ve had recently:

Conversation #1:
Me: “MeToo, please come here.”
MeToo:  (sits down where she is)
Me:  “Come here.”
MeToo: (stares at me blankly, smiles a little)
Me:  “Come here! 1! 2!”
MeToo:  (starts screaming, reluctantly starts coming over before I get to 3)
Me:  “If you’d listened to me earlier, I wouldn’t have to use the Mean Mommy voice!”

Conversation #2:
Me:  “HeyMama, please wait until we all sit down before you start eating.”
HeyMama:  (puts down food, 5 seconds later starts eating again)
Me:  “Put the food down! I asked you to wait!”

Conversation #3:
Me:  “So I was thinking of having the new couple from church over for dinner. What do you think?”
BestestHusband: (snores softly)

On a blog, we have evidence that someone is listening to what we say. Blogger logs pageviews. People leave nice messages and stop me at the gym to tell me they've been reading my blog (thanks Lovey!). Friends “like” posts on Facebook. Some people actually leave comments in the comments section!

Halleluia! SOMEONE is actually listening and responding in an encouraging and meaningful way!

So even if I never become a Blogging Bazillionaire, I will continue to be a Mommy Blogger. Thank you thank you thank you for listening to me. And not interrupting me every 90 seconds.

Why do you like blogs? If you have a blog, why do you do it?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Glitter and Cupcake Kind of Day

Today was an awesome day. I was in the Mommy ZONE! 

First, we went to the warehouse store for milk, bananas, sugar, and diapers. I saved a lot of money on milk, bananas, sugar, and diapers. 
Then we went to the craft store! I blew all of my savings and more on glitter! And a flower-shaped paper punch! (but it’s not SO bad, because I got some stuff on clearance, got a coupon from a nice lady in line, and joined the rewards program so I could get a discount and help justify purchases that I know I will make in the future when I get more coupons in the mail.) 
Then we went sledding! And only shed a little blood. 
And we ran into a friend in the Arboretum! And had them over for hot chocolate, lunch, and a play date! 
And the guy from the gas company came over and changed our gas meter.
Then we had nap/rest time. 
And we did crafts with glitter and the flower-shaped paper punch! 
And we baked cupcakes! 
And I made a lovely, healthy, and tasty dinner! 
And while I was prepping dinner, I chopped extra veggies for snacking during the week and started packing lunches for tomorrow! 
Then BestestHusband come home and enjoyed aforementioned dinner and cupcakes, bathed the kids, and put them to bed in a good mood.

It was an awesome day. One of those rare days when I feel in control and feel like an awesome mom. Which basically means that the kids decided to play along with my plans and let me get a little cocky. It’s days like this that lure me into setting my bar a little higher. 

Why just make homemade bread when I could grind my own wheat too? How awesome would it be to have a sack of GRAIN down in the basement to scoop into my gingham apron and carry upstairs to my handy grain mill. And while I’m at it, I should consider raising my own CHICKENS! Wow! Think of how fresh everything would taste! It would be GREAT! (we’ll ignore the fact that chickens are illegal in Boston and our neighborhood coyotes would be hunting them constantly; hey, why not take a walk on the wild side?)

Thankfully I occasionally listen to the rational voices in my head. But having calm and cooperative kids could be addictive. Think of all the cool things we could do if I could be productive EVERY day! Yet experience tells me I just used up my productivity ration for the week. Cook another nice dinner? GOOD LUCK! Check off everything on my ToDo list? FAT CHANCE! Have another day of esteem-boosting performance? HAHAHAHAHAHA!

So I sit back and admire the events of today. I’ll savor them and try to commit them to memory. And on the normal days that are sure to follow, I’ll look back wistfully, and make a wish for another Glitter and Cupcake Day.

What happens on your Mommy Zone days?

Why I Like Winter, Reasons 1-3

Those who know me well might be scratching their heads at the title to this blog. Most people would say I do NOT like winter. And they would generally be right. This Texas gal has been living in Boston since 1995 (minus two glorious years back in Austin for grad school). Everyone says, “Oh, you’ll get used to the cold.” Well, I’ve been through over a dozen winters. I’d say I’m used to them by now. But it hasn’t made me LIKE them. Winters are dark. They’re cold. They’re slushy and drippy and gritty and generally just nasty. I’m used to winter. But I still don’t like it.

Yet I’ve started to accept that Boston is home. We’ve been here for a while, and will likely stay a while longer. The Texan in me hasn’t been able to consider Boston my permanent home yet, but that’s just me taking a trip down the river Denial. It’s time to start liking winter. So I’m trying to talk myself into it. I suspect this will be a multi-part series before I’m truly convinced…

So here we go:  reasons I like winter…

1.     Snow truly is beautiful. It’s beautiful as it’s falling. It’s beautiful piled up on branches, fences, and the gingerbread trim of the lovely old homes along the Arboretum. It makes everything look nicer. 
2.     Snow is fun to play in. The dogs love it. It’s like catnip for our dogs; a local dog-walker referred to it as canine cocaine. Hmm, the dogs always come in with it all over their noses… The girls like playing in it too. We have an amazing sledding hill across the street in the Arboretum, and we were out there this morning getting in a few runs before the rain washed the snow into slush puddles. Up until MeToo slid nose-first into HeyMama’s parked sled, we were having a blast. Then we just had a bloody nose and the urgent need for some calming cups of hot chocolate…
3.     Snowclouds make for magical nights. There’s something special about those evenings when it’s not snowing, but the clouds are hanging low. The ambient light (aka urban light pollution) reflects back and forth off of the clouds and snow, and the sky faintly glows. The clouds and snow help damp the ambient city noise (aka urban noise pollution), and the night is quiet. It’s a treat to go out with the dogs, look out over the snow-covered woods, and just drink in the quiet under the pink-gray sky.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got for now. My goal for this winter is to come up with at least 25 reasons. Perhaps in the process I can fall in love with winter.

Why do you love winter?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Magical Scarf

I have a magical scarf. Ok, technically, it’s a shawl. I wear it as both a scarf and a shawl, but mostly a scarf. It is a much-loved Christmas gift from BestestHusband:  incredibly soft, incredibly warm, and bright cranberry in color. Cashmere. And apparently magical.

So after church today, we had a congregational lunch and meeting where we discuss business matters and vote on decisions to drive future activity in our congregation. We discuss incredibly exciting matters such as budgets, replacing windows, electing people to district advisory boards, etc. The necessary stuff that doesn’t require a pastor to do it. Anyway, enough about the incredibly exciting event that kept us 2 hours after church…

The kids usually run around in the Sunday school rooms, requiring occasional shushing and intervening, but largely entertaining themselves while we parents do business stuff. The meeting typically runs right through nap time, which can cause a fair amount of misery for our family. But today the scarf worked its magic.

MeToo was starting to look a little sleepy and was rubbing her eyes, and came over and climbed up on my lap. So I wrapped the scarf around us like a blanket to keep her warm (it’s chilly in the church basement). And she immediately cuddled up against my chest and fell asleep. Deeply asleep. She took a nap in my lap. This is a truly rare thing; I don’t think she’s done it since she was about 9 months old.

This has happened once before. HeyMama was sitting in my lap during an evening concert. As soon as I wrapped the scarf around us, she cuddled up against me and fell asleep. She never naps in the evening! And hadn’t napped on me since around 9 months old. But she too took a long cozy nap in my lap.

Now I’m not a nap-in-my-lap kind of Mama. Sure, it was necessary when they were tiny, but I was happy to transition them to sleeping in a crib. The constant physical contact is just too much for me, and I didn’t want them to be dependent on me for sleeping.

But once in a while, especially now that they’re older and generally good sleepers, the naps are kinda nice. Especially when we’re in a quiet place and them being awake would likely be disruptive. It’s nice to feel their constantly increasing weight and size wrapped up in my arms. To have them melt into my chest like warm toddler goo. I like to breathe in the smell of their hair and kiss the top of their heads. It reminds me of the long-ago days when they were tiny little creatures that didn't throw tantrums or openly defy me. 
Except that I get more sleep.

It's just magical. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Faith, Grace, Hope, and Joy

Faith, Grace, Hope, and Joy. 
Not only are they names commonly used for pastor’s daughters, they are incredible concepts when the realities of life come crashing in.

While I was grousing about having a swollen finger and single-handedly wrangling two little girls who can’t. stop. talking., dear friends of ours were traveling back to be with their family to bury their youngest child.
Yes, I said bury their youngest child.
A child tiny enough to fit in the palm of your hand. A child long-awaited and much cherished. My heart breaks again for them as I write this.

I was talking to someone the other day who had done the same thing in the past. She’s buried her mother, her father, and her sister, but says burying a child is the most painful thing she’s ever endured.

This is where Faith, Grace, Hope, and Joy become so important in life.

Both friends who lost children truly believe that “all things work together for good for those who love God.”* Their strong Faith in God is their lifeboat in the storms of life. Where Faith carries you, Grace is already there. And Grace begets Hope. And where there is Hope, you can soon find Joy.

Our recent winter weather strikes me as an excellent illustration of the days of Joy and sorrow. Boston’s weeks of gray skies and snowstorms are punctuated by days of brilliant sunshine and crystalline blue skies. After slogging through days of cold dreariness, your heart and whole being involuntarily lift a bit when the sun bursts through.

So to all of my friends who are slogging through days of slush and darkness, I pray you will have a buoyant Faith, bountiful Grace, greater Hope, and more easily-discovered Joy.

*Romans 8:28

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lonely Socks Club

Here's a picture of today's Lonely Socks Club get-together (also known as laundry day). 

I typically wash all of the contents of the girls' hamper together in one giant load. And the floor is currently sock free. BH would tell me to just throw the oddballs away and move on. But I feel sorry for them. The optimist in me feels confident that they can find their mates and go on to live happy, productive lives. The realist in me knows that I could open the Candyland box and find 5 random socks stashed in there. So I gave them their own box on top of the clothes drawers in the closet. They can keep each other company. Commiserate. 

And I'm a cheapskate. Throw away perfectly good socks? Heck no! In a pinch, we could make 8 perfectly serviceable pairs out of them. But only in a pinch. (We wouldn't want people to think I can't match my kids' socks!)

Oh, and don't think I'm not keeping track of how many socks I put in that box. My theories of sock reproduction suggest that I could find more than 16 the next time I look...

Single Mom Day 3

So my handsome and wonderful BH is still in Germany, eating good pretzels and drinking odd German sodas. Oh, and working. If it's good for the resume, it's good for the family bank account. And it's definitely good for reminding me of how much BH does around the house. (not that I doubted it before, but sometimes it's good to be reminded.)

So yesterday was the first day since I started this blog that I didn't post. (hey, I posted 2 entries the day before!) Yesterday was a bit rough for me. My right pinkie is the same size as my thumb. I'm not sure why, but it certainly doesn't feel good. I was struck by a case of the Monthly Misery while at work. I got stuck at work and picked up the girls late. I had promised HM that we'd make a chicken recipe from her toddler cookbook (thanks again Aminah!!!), but was in NO mood to cook. She really wanted to make those chicken skewers. I was not in a good place. 

But parenting is about making limoncello out of lemons, right? The kids don't care why you're doing fun stuff. They just know it's fun. If I didn't stand up too tall or I didn't breathe too deeply, my midsection didn't hurt too much... And without another adult in the house, there were a lot of leftovers in the fridge. HM is generally ok with delaying something if I promise her something better...

So we had a leftover picnic on the living room floor while watching videos. This flies in the face of everything we do here. 
Eating in the living room?!?!?! 
Watching videos while eating?!?!?! 
Wait, food AND drink in the living room?!?!?! Wow!!!! 
Somehow they were ok with Daddy not joining us for dinner again. And they were ok with Mama lying on the couch (trying not to moan too much.)

So it snowed last night. The girls think this is awesome. We're going out to play in the snow!!!
(ahem, it's called shoveling. Just don't tell them that.)
So I'm off to help put on snow gear. With 1.5 functional hands. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

From Trophy Wife to Single Mom

I have a newfound appreciation for all the single moms out there. Even the moms that technically aren’t single, but have traveling spouses that frequently leave them piloting the family ship alone.

I started my day as a Trophy Wife. I spent an hour on the elliptical with Alton Brown and a few of his Food Network friends. The girls and I went to Panera for lunch. We grocery shopped. I got a peppermint mocha. We went to the library to check out new books. I met with their daycare director to discuss curriculum and upcoming surprise events. We jetted home for an “arsenic hours” playdate and dinner. We made cute cereal treat teddy bears! The mommies had mommy drinks! It was great!

Except that we did all of these things in one day with a 2 yr old who didn’t nap, a 3 yr old who accidentally did, and 2 yappy dogs that didn’t get a walk this morning. So the day started out great and then gradually devolved into bedlam. Cacophonous bedlam. (Is that redundant? Or is there such a thing as quiet bedlam? Or mildly noisy bedlam? Or harmoniously loud bedlam?)

So at 8pm I have 2 girls who DESPERATELY need to get to bed, but are too wired to do so. I have a kitchen full of dinner dishes and groceries still in their bags. I have cereal and powdered sugar all over the floor. I didn’t get a chance to shower after the gym, so I reek. I have a mountain of laundry to fold. (my 3 year old pointed out that she didn’t have clean socks or undies in her closet for her to wear tomorrow. She’s right. They’re all heaped on the spare bedroom bed.) I have daycare bags to pack with winter gear. I still don’t know when or where I’m working tomorrow. I’m trying to lure a potential dog-walker with expensive hair products. The list goes on.

And I have a husband currently in transit over the Atlantic Ocean for a 3 day business trip. 

So to all of the single moms out there tonight, I drink to you. You have my respect. My deepest respect. 

25 lb Throat Warmer

I have a 25 pound throat warmer. My throat stays very warm when I use it. The problem is that it’s 25 pounds. On my throat. Which is not so conducive to throat-clearing, swallowing, or breathing.

My throat warmer is named MT. She’s much like me, not really a morning person. She’s content to wake up slowly, preferably after she’s transferred herself to my bed. Being not a morning person, I’m content with this idea. I love early morning snuggles, especially if they’re later in the morning. (I’m less enamored with a throat warming in the middle of the night.) I’ve called MT my “Schnuggle Muffin” since very early on. She’s a cuddler. She loves to snuggle in the rocking chair. On the couch. In my bed. On the floor (lying on me, of course). Her older sister, HM, is like her father. As soon as the eyes open, so does the mouth, and springs propel her out of bed and into her day. Some days it’s jet engines. Lying around in bed with Mama is of no interest to her.

So I relish the snuggle time. But time has marched on. MT is no longer the 7 lb 3 oz creature of her birth. She’s 25 pounds. That’s a lot of weight on my throat. Sometimes she’ll let me move her. She’s ok with that, as long as I move her to my face. She doesn’t have to lay on my throat. My face is acceptable. Which still has an impact on breathing. So I do love snuggling, but breathing is kinda important too.

Everyone keeps telling me that I should enjoy it, because this phase passes so quickly. Oh I will. If I survive it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I read the following post in my local mommy list serve a few days ago, and it's still got me worked up:

Today, after I picked my 3-year-old up from preschool, he was playing outside with other kids as parents and caregivers talked on the sidewalk. My little guy came over the threw a handful of gravel right at my face and that of the woman standing next to me (I have not met her before). I immediately asked her if she was OK, and she said yes. I said my son's name, and he giggled and ran away. I chased him down, got on his level and told him that he cannot throw rocks, and it is not OK to throw rocks at people. I told him that he has to say sorry and that we are leaving. (The other mom did not hear this b/c we were a ways away.) When we got back to the sidewalk, I told my son that he needs to say sorry. The other mom took a step back and said "NO. NO. We don't do that in our family! No apologizing unless it is genuine. We don't do that in our family. I know a lot about child development and he's too young to understand. And rocks can be fun." I didn't know what to say, so I just said 'OK' and put my son in the car and left.

When I read this, I think I was just as dumbfounded. A mom told another mom that making her child apologize is NOT Ok. And throwing rocks IS ok because it's fun. The posting mom then goes on for a few more paragraphs to describe the shock and conflict that I still feel.  

There is just so much wrong with this whole story. But this doesn't surprise me. Parenting in Boston is weird. There are so many really educated people who can just be so... dumb? Crazy? A mom in my neighborhood called the situation "whackadoodle". Yeah. It's just so OUT THERE!

Is this happening anywhere else?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weather Update

I looked out the window to find snow falling. I was surprised, as it was fantastically gorgeous out today. But I hadn't checked the weather report, so hey, anything can happen.

But I hear the weatherman on the TV in the other room:
"It's starting to snow tonight. For more information about what this will do to your morning commute, stay tuned for the 11:00 news!"

I'm pretty sure it will make the commute nasty. I don't need to stay tuned to the news to know that.

Things I Learned Today

Happy MLK Day!
BH and the girls and I spent the day together, and it turned out to be quite educational. I'd like to share a few things that I learned today:

  1. Wet Ones in the car can freeze. Which makes it impossible to pull out individual wipes to clean up any poo that might have blasted out all over a carseat. 
  2. Poo all over a carseat makes me extremely anxious. 
  3. Poo blasts are most destructive in cold weather, due to wearing multiple layers.
  4. Trying to take off 6 items of poo-smeared clothing without smearing it further makes me anxious.
  5. You need to have a bathtub free of bathtub toys before trying to put a poo-covered toddler in it. 
  6. The idea of poo-covered bathtub toys makes me extremely anxious. 
  7. Hand-held shower nozzles are extremely handy for managing poo blasts.
  8. I'm extremely thankful BH installed a new hand-held shower nozzle this past week. Extremely thankful. 
  9. Partly-digested onions are recognizable, even after being blasted all over a toddler. 
  10. I never want to clean up a piece of party-digested onion from a bath mat again.
  11. My darling MT was stoic in the face of a hysterical and anxious mother who stripped her down in a cold bathtub and starting hosing off poo with a hand-held shower nozzle. 
  12. Enzyme-based laundry sprays really are amazing at treating poo blasts. 
  13. MT's winter coat will be wearable again as soon as the dryer dings. 
  14. Managing a poo blast automatically entitles you to a glass of wine. 
Happy MLK Day everyone!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


My household has a love/hate relationship with Ikea. I love it. BH hates it. Ok, so “hate” is a “sad word”, and “certainly we can find a different word”*. BH reacts to every trip to Ikea with a groan, eye roll, and a question along the lines of, “Do we really need more Samla?” Samla is a line of Ikea’s storage containers. They’re cheap, translucent, multi-sized, and cheap. Did I mention how reasonably priced they are?

BH:  “Are those for Anne?” (I’m trying to turn my dear friend Anne into a Samla junkie too.) 
Me:  “No, they’re for me.” 

He’s kind enough to not point out how much Samla we already own, and how ridiculous my obsession with Samla is. But it’s not ridiculous. Because if I have enough storage containers, I will become an organized person!

We all engage in some kind of magical thinking:
If I wear more stylish clothes, more people will like me.
If I get a new haircut, I’ll look 20 years younger.
If I drive a nicer car, I”ll get more dates.
If I stop eating so much chocolate, I could lose the 10 lbs I gained since weaning my second child.
Hmm, actually, that last one would probably work…

But maybe, just maybe, if I have enough containers, I can become the organized person I’ve always dreamt of being.

So this week I got another Samla fix. And I got BH a bag of Swedish Fish. Maybe he won’t groan so much when he enters that receipt into our finance software…

Dear Ikea, if you want me to be your Samla ambassador to Boston, I’d be happy to take the job. You can even pay me in Samla.
Large Samla bins holding outgrown kids clothes
More basement Samla. Some with printed labels!
Large Samla full of craft stuff, above the spare bedroom closet.
Medium-sized Samla holding craft stuff in the spare bedroom closet.
These aren't Samla. But they're from Ikea and I love them.
BH got some fish. He loves them.

By the way, this doesn't even include all the Samla in the girls' room. But they're sleeping, so I couldn't take pictures of them. 

*Does anyone else scold themselves using the same words they use with their kids? Or is it just me?