Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spring Driving

People like to talk about spring skiing around here. It's the time when there's still plenty of snow left on the slopes, but the weather's getting milder. This means you can ski all day without losing your nose to frostbite.

Well, I'm sure spring skiing is wonderful. But I'd like to talk about another New England sport:  Spring Driving.

Ok, I know it's not really spring yet. It's still nasty. It's February. We still have some quality winter weather ahead of us. But the recent rain/slush storm is similar to what we get in the spring, and it's already changing the roads to what I expect in March and April.

How are spring skiing and driving alike? You get to enjoy a constant slalom course. Rain and slush here somehow spontaneously generate potholes. Not little "bump" potholes, but axle-shattering "BAM!" potholes. They lurk under puddles. You think that puddle is 1/2 inch deep? HA! 6 inches of pothole under there! Kiss your suspension goodbye!

So in fear, you drive around suspicious-looking puddles. Which includes most of them... And they come up on you fast as you drive. So you dodge left. Then right. Then left. Then WAY to the right. Then you see the puddle taking up the ENTIRE lane, and you hold your breath and prepare for the worst. 

If you don't live around here, you might not know how narrow our lanes tend to be. Generally, they're wide enough for a mid-sized sedan. SUV's easily take up the entire width of the lane, and delivery trucks are the equivalent of oversized loads. So swerving to avoid potholes while simultaneously avoiding oncoming traffic is a bit of a challenge. 

I think there ought to be a point system involved in Spring Driving. Certain roads are more prone to spontaneous potholes, and present more of a challenge. Getting to work without hitting a pothole? That's not so hard. Few points should be awarded for that. But getting to church without hitting a pothole? That's a herculean feat. That deserves significant points. And making it to summer without needing a realignment? Your point tally doesn't matter. You know you've won.

So if you visit Boston in the spring and wonder why people appear to be driving drunk, watch carefully. The potholes come up on you fast. Following the weaving driver ahead of you might just help you save your tires.

Monday, February 25, 2013


I lost my ToDo list. It's on a big sheet of blue paper. It organizes my life. I'm lost without it.

I've tried using electronic systems on my iPhone and computer. For some reason, they never really work. I like the tactile aspect of the paper. I like writing out the entries longhand. I like the experience of crossing them out. Paper just works better for me. Until I lose it.

Being a mom has destroyed a lot of brain cells. If the girls grow up to be brilliant, you'll know that they got those brain cells from me. I used to have them. And now I apparently don't. So I commonly say, "If I don't write it down, it didn't happen." I also say, "Why bother trying to remember? I wrote it down?" This works well until I lose what I wrote down.

So I sat down this morning to try to re-compose my ToDo list. Certain things were easy to add. "Clean couch cushion." MeToo helped herself to my hand salve. Then shared some with the couch. How kind of her. Certain things always go on the list, like laundry and house chores. Yes, I know I need to do them, but I also need the satisfaction of crossing them out when I'm done.

I've found that a multi-column list works best for me. I create multiple small categories to help generate the list and feel like I'm covering all of the important aspects of life. Today's list included:  Home, Girls, Work, Church, Errands, Emails, Cooking. I have a lot of baking ingredients I want to use up before they go rancid, so I'm trying to be diligent about cooking more. And I have a baked sweet potato I don't want to go to waste. So planning out my cooking really helps with the waste department...

Once I create a big list, then I turn over the page and make a list of the things that will get done today. It's a bit redundant, but it helps me to self-organize after the myriad interruptions from the girls throughout the day. I need as much help as I can get.

In the end, I accept that my ambition is always greater than my ability to get things done. This is even a bigger issue now that I'm pregnant. The girls' nap time was traditionally a time for me to get housework done. Now it's a time for me to nap, too. The evenings were traditionally a time to finish up tasks from the day. Now it's a time to lay on the couch and groan about being nauseous. So my productivity is significantly diminished. But the list still helps. 

Until I lose it. And then I'm just lost.

I hope your week is a good and productive one, and I hope you don't get lost.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dancing Queens

So I just realized it's been over a week since I last posted. Ooops, sorry. I'm gradually feeling better and better, which means I'm getting more and more ambitious about actually DOING things during the day. Things other than laying on the couch and moaning about nausea or taking marathon naps. Oh, don't worry, I still take naps and moan about nausea. But the naps are shorter and the nausea is mostly in the evenings. Like right now. But I still have dishes to clean up, and I'm too guilt-stricken to lay down on the couch before cleaning them, so I'm using this blog as a procrastination tool. Thanks for enabling me.

So our renewed up-and-about-ness means that the girls are happier and we spend more time in the car. They're good passengers, and better when I play music instead of my favorite NPR "chit-chat". A handful of months ago, I mourned the passing of my long-favored alt-rock station that was the soundtrack to my college and young-adult years. It was going off the air, to eventually be replaced by Something Else. I mourned it with a co-worker who was shocked to find someone else who still listened to it. Well, the pre-set is still there in my car. And while trying to find music for the girls the other day, we re-discovered it. It's now dance music. Like club dance music. Like the kind of music that you dress up in skimpy clothing for, wait in line for an hour in the cold with no coat on for, then drink a lot and gyrate on a sardine-like dance floor to. (I was always impressed at the young twentisomethings that manage this in a Boston winter. Just driving by them makes me cold...)

Anyway, my preschoolers love this music. They don't know anything about the skimpy dressing, cold-waiting, drinking and gyrating parts. They just hear the music and think it sounds "fun". 

So we drive the streets of Boston in our nondescript 2007 CRV, secretly harboring a traveling dance party. No line required, although admittance is reserved for an elite few...

Seriously though, now that the girls are starting to listen to what they hear on the TV and radio and start asking questions about what they hear, dance music isn't so bad. There aren't many words to it, it's mostly just synthesized rhythms and an occasional "melody". While I don't find it particularly edifying from a musical perspective, at least there aren't catchy lines for my girls to repeat. There are endless YouTube videos of very young children singing the provocative lyrics played on mainstream radio. This makes me cringe. The last thing I want to hear from my back seat are lyrics of seduction from the mouths of preschoolers. I've seen commentary on Facebook of little girls who love Rihanna at age 2 and can sing her songs. No offense to the lovely lady from Barbados, but I don't want my preschoolers singing about sexual relations with an abusive boyfriend. I don't really want it at any age, but I'll have less control over the matter when they're older. 

So we listen to dance music. Or CD's. Or occasionally, a bit of NPR. As long as they're not reporting in gory detail on deaths in the Middle East... I want to relish my control over their media exposure while I still can.

So the next time you pass a black CRV driven by a mom-ish looking person, imagine the backseat contains a pair of dancing queens, bobbing to the never-ending beat. (boom-ch-boom-ch-boom-ch-boom-ch...)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pregnancy Dangers

I realize that my decision-making yesterday may not have been so great. In fact, what I did yesterday might have been pretty dangerous. I didn't mean to do anything bad, but I really needed a new bottle of Bac-Out.

I took the girls to Whole Foods. Around lunch time. While pregnant.

I know, what a rookie mistake! Oh yes, and I have the grocery bill to prove it. I really did go in for 1 thing. Ok, 4 things. I realized that I also needed almonds and raisins to complete the Mexican pork dish I was working on. And milk. And I really didn't want to drag the girls to yet ANOTHER store, albeit a cheaper one, to get them. The normal (non-organic, non-grass-fed) gallon of milk I bought was cheaper than I'd get at my normal store. But that's not the type of purchase that sucks me in at WF. That's the danger of Whole Foods. It's not what you plan to buy, but what you don't know that you need until you see it.

I'm out of the first trimester of pregnancy, and starting to feel better, but I still get pretty strong food cravings. Even more dangerous, I get strong drink cravings. For some reason, water does not sit well on my stomach. Even flavored with lemon or lime. Any mother knows this is a bad thing. Hydration is quite important while pregnant. Or anytime, actually. But flavored drinks sit just fine. Like lemonade. Or soda. Or organic locally-sourced chocolate milk. Or organic, made from 5 ingredients, honey-sweetened soda hand-made by a nice guy from Maine who offered us samples. It was yummy. And healthy! Well, for soda...

I was a sucker. But the baby NEEEEDDDED the chocolate milk. And the baby REEEAAALLLLYYYY NEEEEDDDED the honey-sweetened soda. And I just needed the hand-made chocolate toffees. The girls, of course, claimed to need them, too.

BestestHusband tried the soda last night. "Meh." He didn't need it nearly as badly as the baby did. I hope when he sees the grocery receipt and that the soda cost $7 for 4 bottles, he doesn't remember the taste of the soda. I hope he only remembers the taste of the amazing picadillo pork I made after visiting WF. I think the expensive beverages and tasty extras inspired me and the baby to cook. You have to admit, it's the first time I've been motivated to make something out of a cookbook since I became pregnant. Coincidence? I don't think so...

I only needed to get cleaner. Unfortunately, I think I got the wrong bottle, so I'll need to go back. DANGER DANGER!

Let's not discuss how many of these I've eaten already. The girls have helped...


It really hit the spot.
Hey Jackie, tell your family to look for it. It's made in Brunswick, ME!

I couldn't help but pick up something for the girls. These are healthy and fun.

PS. Anyone want to watch Downton with me on Sunday? BestestHusband will be out of town, and I've heard this episode will be a doozy! And since I gave up Facebook for Lent, I have to advertise my loneliness here...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Vacation Summary

We've long been back in Boston, and the snow from our megastorm is gradually receding. But I feel like I should write a final post about our vacation.

We picked a great week to go to Orlando. The weather was great and we were definitely ready to leave Boston's winter. In hindsight, I'm willing to admit that it's good that we were here for the storm. BestestHusband would never have been happy with anyone else's shoveling, he would have been worried, and dog walking in higher-than-the-dogs snow drifts is a lot to ask a dog sitter. But the contrast between Friday in Orlando and Saturday in Boston was pretty stark.

So we did learn a few things on the trip.
I miss living in the South.
Orlando drivers are crazier than Boston drivers.
Manatees are not as exciting to watch as dolphins.
Seeing manta rays at the beach is pretty cool.
MeToo still desperately needs an afternoon nap, regardless of what expensive excursions have already been paid for. Skipping Disney was confirmed as the right choice for this year.
The girls love their room, their beds, and their toys, and miss them when they're gone.
We still haven't found a hotel bed more comfortable than our own. It was good to come home.
Cooking is easier with a fully stocked kitchen, but a rented suite/apartment with a basic kitchen is the best way to get by on $100 for feeding a family of 4 for a week in Orlando.
A week's worth of warm sun is necessary for surviving our dreary winters.
Pregnancy brain allows me to lose one lunchbox, one Nalgene bottle, and one sippy cup. Hey, at least it wasn't a kid.

Now to face the reality of being back. Happy February!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vacation Report #5

We're on the plane, headed home. It seems cruel that we're leaving 80 degree weather to be greeted by a blizzard. But I guess it would be worse to have the blizzard keep us from getting to the 80 degree weather...

Yesterday we visited the Orlando Science Center. It was kind of a cross between our Science Museum and our Children's Museum. The girls loved it.

The bottom level featured a swamp, complete with fish, turtles, and small alligators. HeyMama was not so thrilled with the gators, but she did toss some gator kibble into the tank at feeding time. MeToo actually petted a baby gator. We learned from the Swamp Lady that the gators came as hatchlings from Gatorland. And when they get too big or too frisky, they'll go back there again. You don't want gators in the wild that expect handfuls of kibble every time they see humans...

The downstairs also had a great kids area, with a giant play kitchen, some water play features, a computer, and an orange grove. HeyMama loved picking the oranges (balls) off the trees and puting them in the hopper to go on the conveyer belt. The installation was supposed to explain the orange juice industry. The pedal-powered tractor made the conveyer belt move the oranges overhead, and it eventually fed the oranges back into the trees. Honestly, HeyMama could have spent all day there.

But Messy Time was calling. They joined the group and made play dough. We'd done this at home before, but we'd never flavored ours with Koolaid before, which they thought was really cool. Now they're begging me to buy Koolaid.

The swamp had a few large trees that stretched up into the upper levels of the museum. As you rode the glass elevator up, you could see different animals at different levels of the tree. The upstairs exhibits were more for older kids, but the girls still enjoyed running around. They dug in the sand for dinosaur fossils. They enjoyed riding an earthquake, and HeyMama loved the hurricane chamber. We never made it up to the full 74 mph wind, she consistently bugged out around 50 mph. Can't say I blame her!

In 3 to 5 years, the rest of the museum will be perfect for the girls. But they were content to leave early and head to the pool back at the hotel. We spent a few hours there with our friends, and the day was made perfect.

The only imperfect thing? Prepping to come home, especially with the knowledge that there was a winter storm bearing down on Boston. The welcome home wouldn't be warm, but it would likely be memorable.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vacation Report #4

I was too tired to report yesterday. I didn't get my usual prego lady nap, and then we went out for a date night. So we got in late and I collapsed. My apologies.

Yesterday we hit the road and met up with my Aunt Vicki in Tampa. The girls loved her tiny Dauschund Gretchen, as well as the sand toys that Vicki so thoughtfully packed. She jumped in the car with us and guided us to our first destination: the manatee hangout. The local power plant has long been attracting manatees in the winter with their warm outflow water, and built a nice viewing area. The manatees are wild, so there's no guarantee you get a close view, but one was lounging pretty close to the viewing pier, and we saw it come up for air a few times before the girls got bored. They're not exactly exciting animals... The viewing site had a lovely butterfly garden where we ate lunch before heading to our main attraction: the beach.

Vicki has a time share on Anna Maria Island, a quiet beach community. The girls loved the sand, the water, and running around. I loved seeing manta rays and brown pelicans in the wild. And the sun. I definitely got a bit of sun! The weather was warm, but not hot. The breeze was cool, but not too cool. It was a lovely day to sit and do nothing on a beach.

We did a fair amount of driving and got home around 7:30. We rushed to feed and bathe ourselves and the girls before our date. BestestHusband's coworker was coming upstairs to stay with the girls, and we had plans for Cuban desserts and child-free conversation. The evening was pleasant enough for alfresco dining, which we enjoyed. But we were wiped. The date ended with us collapsing in bed.

Which is what I desperately want to do now. I promise to tell you more. Tomorrow. Oh pillow, I do miss you do...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Vacation Report #3

Today was a much quieter day. We spent the morning at a great city playground, and the afternoon at the hotel's Pirate Pool. Well, the girls did. My afternoon super nap went straight through pool time...

Lake Eola Park is in downtown Orlando. It's apparently a lake formed by a sinkhole that's been developed into a great urban destination. The lake has a great walking path around it. There are swan paddle boats that you can take for a spin. The lake had multiple water fountains in it, and is inhabited by dozens of swans. The playground is large, with multiple structures for multiple ages, and shaded by giant live oak trees.

While it's not as exciting as an amusement park, the girls easily entertained themselves for a few hours. For free. We met up with one of BestestHusband's coworkers and his family, who liked his trip planning well enough to tag along. Their boys had a great time, as well, and we got to chat.

The girls didn't take much of a nap, so we'll do an early bedtime. BestestHusband is downstairs babysitting for his coworker's boys so that he and his wife could get a date night. Our night is tomorrow...

Tomorrow is a day with bigger plans, involving a road trip to visit extended family, a beach, and manatees. Can't wait!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Vacation Report #2

Well, today we had fun. It's 9pm, and we just came in from the hot tub. BestestHusband and the girls tried out the pirate pool this evening, too. But my goal for this trip was to avoid being cold, and so far I'd managed well today.

We didn't tell the girls where we were going this morning until we pulled in to the parking lot. We were all pretty excited. Sea World was everything we hoped it would be: animals, rides, and the sensory overload of an amusement park. And the weather was gorgeous.

We fed dolphins. We marveled at them swimming underwater. We cheered at their acrobatics in the show. I think they made Sea World for us. Shamu was great too, as were the rays, walruses, sea lions, and all the rest. But the dolphins were definitely the highlight.

The girls rode their first roller coaster, and LOVED it. Then they rode it again. They were such good sports. They were less motion sick than we grownups were. I've felt better this week, but there were still rides I wasn't willing to try.

HeyMama was excited and going strong the whole time, but MeToo was spent by lunchtime. She melted down shortly afterwards, and we had to throw in the towel. We took another mega nap when we got back to the hotel.

Today reinforced our idea that Disney would have been too much for MeToo. She was just a basket case halfway through the day. We'll plan the rest of our days accordingly.

I fear we'll run out of days too quickly.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Vacation Report #1

Once upon a time, I was a single gal finishing grad school in warm sunny Texas. I was dating a nice guy in Boston. He asked me to marry him. But I had reservations about moving back to Boston. You see, when I left Boston to go to grad school in Texas, I thought I was leaving Boston for good. I had given away my sweaters. I was convinced Prince Charming was waiting for me in Texas. Well, Prince Charming turned out to be in Boston, and I met him 2 months before leaving to begin grad school in Texas. Ah, the things we do for love. You know it's serious when I'm willing to return to Boston winters for a guy...

He had graduated from grad school with limited success finding a good job in Texas. Of course he had great success finding a job with a biotech startup in Boston. He had been willing to move for me, but it wasn't meant to be. Of course, SLPs can get jobs anywhere. So the future was clear. I'd marry him and move to Boston.

I said yes, but we later discussed our "prenup". I would move to Boston if he would take me somewhere warm every February. He agreed, as long as he didn't have to listen to NPR with me. It was a deal.

So BestestHusband has been keeping up his end of the deal. (Me too, by the way...). And other than the years that we agreed to go colder places (like Fairbanks, Alaska) or not-much-warmer places (like San Angelo, TX) to visit family, we've spent about a week soaking up enough sun and warmth to help us get through the rest of a Boston winter. And it really makes a huge difference in our overall life happiness. Ok, maybe it affects me more. But that does definitely have an effect on the rest of the family, as well...

So right now we're in Orlando. No, we're not visiting the Big D. While the girls would love Disney, we weren't looking to lay out that kind of money for girls who still need naps to get through the day. Especially when hanging out at the hotel pool is still a thrill for them.

Our ideal vacation is a mix of laziness and fun. Today was our first full day here. It was a lazy day. We were too lazy to find a church. So we found it on our iPhones. We wandered around our resort. We made lunch. BestestHusband took the girls to the pool. I took a crazy long nap. The girls came back and took a super long nap. BestestHusband walked to the outlet mall next door to the resort. MeToo wet the bed. I scrubbed a mattress. We all took a family trip to the local Super Walmart to get food for the week. It was definitely a cultural experience. We cooked dinner. The girls ran around like the crazy excited girls they are. They played in the giant bathtub in our master suite. BestestHusband watched the Super Bowl. It was a very lazy day. One I needed to refuel in preparation for tomorrow.

The girls don't know it yet. But it's time for some fun. Tomorrow, we're going to SeaWorld.