Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 57

Fifteen years ago today I lost an amazing friend who really got what it means to live life the right way. Evi put people first. Always. Always. Always. She was incredibly fun. She was spicy. She broke rules,  lots of them really--but only ones that got in the way of enjoying life and helping other people  live it up too. She had THE most contagious laugh. I am a better person for having met her. I am closer to some amazing people because of her.

I am incredibly grateful for the few years I spent with Evi and for the influence she still has on me. Sometimes when I start feeling stressed about silly, unimportant things, I think "What Would Evi Do?" Because I know: She'd skip class and call her grandparents in Greece. From an office in the environmental science building. Or she'd buy a shit-ton of candy to put in 100 people's mailboxes for Groundhog Day. You get the picture. She got it.

I keep a letter Evi wrote me in 1995 in my office. On it she drew this picture, which, now that I think about it, sort of sums up her approach: Look on the sunny side,  hang with a friend. (Yes, I know it's sideways...)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 54 - 56

Julian told me that he loved his friend Molly.
 I asked if she was his girlfriend.
Jules: "Yes, I want to marry her. No! No! I want to marry Anna." (Molly, for her part, said she loved Jules but wanted to marry her favorite boyfriend Cameron. Molly is 4.)
Me: "You can't marry Anna. She's your cousin."

This must have been confusing because I'm sure that I've mentioned that he can marry whomever he wants. I forgot about family...

Jules: "Why I can't marry my cousin?"
Me: "Well... because you don't need to, because she's already your family. So you don't need to marry her."
Now. That's a pretty brilliant response, don't you think? At least a marked improvement over my "how do babies get out" comeback.

PS: Molly's mom (my friend Amy) navigated while  I - quite calmly - drove in Boston. OK, sort of in Boston. I drove from Sudbury to the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), where I discovered that I want to learn much more about Issac Julien (and not just because his name juxtaposes two of my favorites) and Swoon (gotta love anyone whose middle name is "Dance." No seriously, it is. That's her middle name).


Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 52 - 53

Random thought: If life existed only in moments immediately following a run, I'd be a far more productive writer, a better mom, a nicer wife, a more thoughtful friend... instead, I'm spending all of those minutes in the shower. Which, really, is kinda awesome.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 51

I love my alma mater, Allegheny College, more and more every day. There, I learned that it's absolutely acceptable to meld your loves into a focus/a comp/a career. That if you feel like improv dancing with your  choreographer friend to the beat of the cool swimmer-guys you met freshman year in bio lab and you think it'd be fun to have an audience, all you need to do is sign out a space. Want to work in a coffeehouse? Help get one started in the campus center. It's all very Harold and The Purple Crayon now that I think about it. Imagine it, create it, do it. Meet amazing people along the way.

This wasn't the experience I signed on for. I was pre-med. Gonna be an optometrist. But Allegheny was absolutely the college experience I was meant to have. How I stumbled upon the right place for the wrong reasons I'm not sure... but, well, lucky me.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 50

Day 50 seems significant... so I'm taking this opportunity to check in on my 36th year goals. I'm an editor, always revising and these aims already need updating and fine-tuning. 
  • Conquer fear of driving (Tackling Montreal. Then Boston, then NYC) Update: I will be tackling Boston first, next weekend. You heard it here first, folks. Hold me accountable. 
  • Run a 10K in TK minutes 6.2 miles * 8:30 minutes = I'm not taking time to do the math. (still working on the goal - but it's going to be faster than a 9:15 minute mile!) Note: an 8:30-minute mile is a big stretch for me... but I do think it's possible if I force myself to run. And listen to good music. 
  • Learn to sew. How cool is this place, Nido? First project: Pimp bathrobes for the boys. Making four simple Christmas stockings by the end of November 30, 2012
  • Plan an awesome party (this is more specific that it sounds). DONE! 
  • Reflect upon something for which I'm grateful every single day. I'm think I'm doing pretty OK on this one!

Speaking of editing--sort of--Vampire Weekend's song "Oxford Comma" has  powered a few minutes of my last few runs, so yesterday, I wanted to make sure that I knew what an oxford comma was... and I did. It's just another name for a "serial comma"--you know, the one right before the "and" the precedes the final item of a list. As a journalist (see, I'm talking editing...) I generally don't do oxford commas. 

Then, as I tend to do... I sort of got obsessed with fact-finding. Just as I was about to start digging around on the web to find out what the hell this song was about, I noticed the quote of the day on dictionary.com. I kid you not, it was this: 

"A poem need not having a meaning and like most things in nature often does not have." 
--Wallace Stevens

It sort of freaked me out.. Not really, I thought it was pretty cool. Regardless, I took it as a sign and got back work  instead of madly Googling Vampire Weekend. So now, I must ask you: What does this song mean? Whaddya think? 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Days 47 - 49

I recently wrote a story about fear (when it'll run, I'm still not sure). Given that I'm pretty much an expert on the topic, I certainly could have reached my 1800 words by simply listing all the things I'm afraid of. But like any respectable journalist, I spoke with a dozen experts, read a bunch of journal articles... and interviewed many women. I learned a lot (none of which immediately alleviated any of my fears ... though I'm working on a bunch of them.)

In my reporting, what struck me the most was the fact that we use "fear" to describe all sorts of different things: panic, worry, anxiety, anticipation, stress, lack of confidence. I'm quite well acquainted with all of these guys.

For example, when I'm about do something physically scary, like snowboarding, I anticipate (exiting the ski lift), then I worry (about failing underneath the lift and getting hurt), then I panic (when it comes time to exit the lift), then I fall, then I stress about looking like a jackass, then I feel like a loser because I live in Vermont and can't ride like everyone else. Feeling like a loser = lack of confidence, which makes me anticipate/worry/panic the next time. Vicious cycle. (Fact is, I'm much better at snowboarding then I am at getting off the lift.) So anyway, this weekend, I started anticipating taking Jules ice-skating by myself... I don't totally suck at skating but I live in Vermont, where everyone is seemingly hardcore and often current or former hockey players.

Then I remembered something I'd heard that morning on Dino Train (um, yeah, the PBS cartoon): The anticipating of [trying new foods] is harder than actually eating them. Or something like that. It was spoken by a (cartoon-version of a) wise "Confucius" bird.  And this Confucius quote was totally true for the skating. Relatively speaking, among the other "public" skaters, I was pretty average, perhaps slightly above. Jules didn't break a leg. He didn't cry. And once he got a post-skate cocoa (which he sipped while we watched an awesome women's hockey game), he claimed that ice-skating was his new favorite activity. It was a fun date.

Later in the weekend, while stressing/worrying about my lack of a censor (am I annoying? offensive?), my lack of Vermont-appropriate interests and skills and feeling generally anxious about, well, all of the quirky traits that make me me, Jules walked in with Ri's iPad and said, "look Mama, here's that song that you love" and showed me this video:

Totally just what I needed. And hmmm.... maybe I should quit worrying that my kids get too much screen time and watch a little more myself.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 46

We cut the cable about a month ago, in that time, and we've spent a small fortune downloading movies from Apple TV... which sort of defeats the purpose I suppose. So tonight I finally tried streaming a free movie from Amazon (Prime membership). The Week, starring--and I think produced by--Joshua Jackson was quite a bit better than I expected. Still stuck on this one line:

 "At what point in his childhood did reason trump imagination?" 

Think about it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 45

Today: SUPER excited about my new job, which promises to combine everything I love to do most: immersing myself in fascinating science; creatively packaging content; consulting top scientists; collaborating with colleagues who are brilliant in areas I know little (or nothing) about; learning new--really new--things; developing products that help people. And I'm getting paid to do it. #luckygirl

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 44

Dear Friends Who May Have Read One of My Fitness Stories/Weight Loss Stories And Wondered What-The-Hell-Planet-Is-This-Chick Living-On?:

I am sorry. I submitted a draft that offered insufficiently tested advice and, now, reviewing the evidence, I must issue a few corrections, including the following: 

"No time to exercise? Just wake up a half hour earlier." Wake up a half-hour earlier, and luck will have it that your kid will wake up an hour earlier, which means that you'll still be sedentary and that much more sleep deprived. A+ for effort though...

I miss you too, running shoes.

"Hop on the treadmill after your kids go to bed." After tucking your children in for the third time, go downstairs and amuse yourself for six minutes minutes while waiting for the bigger one to yell that he has to poop, rousing the little one from his slumber. Had you ventured all the way down to the basement and "hopped on the treadmill," you wouldn't have heard the big guy's cry for help or the little bro sobbing because his sweet dream was interrupted by shouts about excrement. Better, my friend, to pass the time on Facebook, Twitter or that time-sucking blog that you keep. 

"Eating healthy meals just takes planning." If you have children who actually go to bed. If not, the hours between 8 and 10 pm when you anticipating chopping vegetables and the like will be spent trying to prevent the big one from waking the little one with screams about poop, water and Daddy--in no particular order. 

"Squeeze exercise in by doing lunges at the office" Huh? No. Just delete this whole concept.

"Eating or drinking to relax just causes more stress. Do a yoga DVD instead." Pour yourself a glass of wine and grab some almond M&Ms. Carve out room for those calories by skipping dinner and having only the few bites of whole-wheat pancake your kid left on his plate. (Come on, you know you'd eat 'em anyway.) After all, research shows that the best sort of weight-loss/fitness plan is one you can stick to. 

I. Am. Grateful. Truly, I am. But today I am very, very tired. And not in that I-just-worked-out-and-feel-great sort of way.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 43

Today, I read a wonderful post about Martin Luther King Day on The Captain's Log... Tales From the Poop Deck, a blog written by a Alvin Anthony, a friend from Allegheny. Alvin's posts are usually laugh-out-loud hilarious. This one is more serious--but so beautifully written.

The piece is generally positive but in the early paragraphs, Alvin describes the discrimination he experienced in grade school. Specifically, he talks about "being called 'boy' (which doesn’t seem like an insult until it is shouted in your face or accompanied with spit or an attempt to trip/push you don a flight of stairs)."  This called to mind an experience I had as a freshman at Allegheny--one that made a big impression.

It was spring semester of my freshman year and I was TA for a chem lab designed for humanities majors. (Basically, it was the coolest science class ever)... I was making the rounds through the benches where people were huddled in twos over some piece of equipment (a centrifuge? a microscope? Who knows?)... "How are you girls doing?"... "How's it going?"... "You guys need anything?"....  and then....

"You boys doing OK?" One of the guys I was addressing--his name was Ed--gave me a strange look, told me they were doing fine, and then a few minutes later he pulled me to the side. I don't remember exactly what he said (to be honest, I'm having a hard time remembering Ed's last name) but it was something like this: "Nicci, it's pretty obvious that have no idea, but using the word 'boy' to address a black male is really derogatory." He explained why. At that moment, I felt like a total idiot for not knowing this and I feel really badly for possibly having offended someone. Two someones. (At this moment, I'm wondering why I was even calling men and women, who were mostly a year or two older than me, "girls" and "boys.") I must have looked supersad/regretful, etc., because Ed immediately tried to make me feel better by saying (again I don't remember the exact words), something to the effect of, "Don't sweat it, I know you're not a bigot but I wanted you to know because I don't want you to make the mistake again when you're talking to someone who might not know that you're a cool person."

I was--and still am--so very grateful that Ed took the the time to educate me, kindly and discreetly, about something I should have known. Certainly it would have be easier ignore it and just write me off as a dumb fluff-chick. That day, I learned the disgusting history of that one usage of "boy." I also learned that, just like you should tell someone she has cilantro stuck in her teeth, you should let her know (nicely and directly) when she's saying something that is so very wrong. Even--or especially--if she doesn't know it. So, tonight, I thank you, Ed [I'm Sorry I Forget Your Last Name] from Allegheny.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 42

Back from an incredibly awesome extended family weekend in Pittsburgh, I find myself tonight reflecting on some popular cliches--most of which I find incredibly annoying but also true/good advice. (I guess it's why people insist on repeating them again and again and again, just as I'm about to do. Sorry.)

In no particular order, here goes:

1. Life is too short... [you can fill this in with whatever you'd like but basically the point is that you should be enjoying every moment.] And on the topic of "enjoying every moment," my friend Mia just sent me a link to this very excellent blog post.

2. Just do it. Ok, this is not really a cliche and it's not at all annoying to me. I think this Nike slogan is brilliant and basically a much more eloquent version my new motto, "shut up and go." (In fact, I'm sure that Nike's motto subconsciously inspired my new mantra.) This weekend I just did it--I shut up and went... ice skating at PPG. It wasn't pretty but it was super fun. Jules had a blast too!

3. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. (HT - if you're reading, I know what you're thinking and, no, you shouldn't comment.) This motto makes me want to hurl but I like the point: Make the best of it. Big shout-out to my sis and JO who are pretty skilled at living this cliche. (Congrats.) And not that Kai napping is a big lemon, but when Kai-guy slept through the ENTIRE Children's Museum experience, Kate and Jon (ha: Jon and Kate!) found a way to turn that into something completely delicious while Jules and I were legitimately exploring the exhibits. Here's a taste:

And another...

4. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. This is great advice--from my mom. I'll be honest though: I pretty much suck at following this. I say a lot of things that aren't nice. But I say a lot of things that are nice, too. So I'm talkative. Maybe there's a way of looking at this as a ratio, like the one doctors use to evaluate your cholesterol?

5. Don't worry, be happy. Um, right. Bobby McFerrin, clearly you and I are wired a bit differently. But I like your style.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Days 40 - 41

I love my family, and I LOVE this picture. Jon and I have family scattered around the country and it's rare to get everyone in the same place--let alone the same picture. But, lately, we've been fortunate to have amazing family gatherings. We spent Christmas with Jon's parents, both of his sisters and their kids--which never happens. It was awesome. Jon forced everyone to pose for a "timed" photo--and it was sort of successful. We have two pictures in which every Olin is looking at the camera--and looking somewhat decent.

This weekend, at Mom's (surprise!) 60th birthday celebration, Jon orchestrated a series of Mickler/Micco family photos, including this one:

Honest Family Photo

This is about one of nine in a series. If you look closely--or, okay, if you just look--you'll see that Jules is holding up a piece of chocolate, which he received as a bribe to smile when he melted down. We're not sure why that happened but we think it had to do with the fact that Kai had grabbed someone's phone and he was "getting" to play with it. Well that and the fact that everyone, little guys included, has been staying up way too late, getting silly with favorite peeps they rarely see. And eating too much sugar. And all that jazz.

There are "better," more smiley photos of my fam in this series--but this one is my favorite. It captures a moment (which calls to mind weekend's worth of moments) in time... and one that I want to remember for a long, long time.

PS: Jules, I appreciate your attempts to pull it together and promise not to pull this out someday to show your junior prom date. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 39

 (We pulled it off!) Woot woot!

KMom + chocolate = True Love Forever

Day 38

I got...nothing right now. Nothing but a headache (a real one, not a cliche fake one) and a story that's due before I go to bed. Jules fell asleep about an hour ago. Seriously? It is 12:09 a.m.

The story is short--and almost written. It quite possibly would be written if I weren't writing this. Hmm....

Your reward for enduring this whining: a new episode of Pittsburgh Dad. (I haven't even watched this one yet). But I know you're in for a treat. Let me know what you think... 'night.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 37

I've been thinking a lot about the nature-versus-nature thing lately. Like, do Kai and Jules sing loudly and dance around 24/7 because, much of the time, that's what we adults in the house are doing too or because all of our DNA encodes a love of music and moving? Is Jules "cranky-plus" in the a.m. because he's watched me act like a jerk toward Jon--or did he inherit two dominant genes that predispose him to being "hangry"? (Speaking of, check out this super-cute pillow on the fabulous New Duds blog.) Does Kai love sweet things because I ate too much ice cream while I was nursing him or because of the way his brain is wired, naturally? (Yes, I understand that this statement might make me sound like I didn't pay attention in any of my science classes... but it's what I wonder.) Finally, I must ask: can an obsession with deer be inherited and might this be a trait that skips a generation? Because take a look at this:

Oh deer!

Jules spent nearly an hour yesterday at school cutting out these pictures and assembling this collage, which is--save for one snake and a tiger--full of deer. This was totally unprompted. His teacher had just given him a bunch of magazines. Maybe this sort of sorting and categorizing is age-appopriate. Or maybe my kid is brilliant in this area. Or maybe, maybe he just really likes deer, which must be a "nature" (versus nurture) thing. In our home, right now, there's a huge focus on cows, horses, lions, tigers and elephants and giraffes--mostly plastic. But my dad, like many in Western Pennsylvania, is a huge deer hunter. So I think Julian got the "deer" gene.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 36

I'm a morning person. I truly believe that, as the Green Mountain Coffee ad below puts it, "every morning is a fresh start." And if you read yesterday's post, you'll know that, today, I needed a fresh start. (Note to those of you - Olin, I'm looking at you - who think I'm a monster for calling my three year old an @sshole: I didn't call him an @sshole, I implied that he was acting like one.)

A+ marketing campaign Green Mountain Coffee. 

Well, as things go, Day 36 didn't start out well. Specifically, my day began with Julian taking his place at the breakfast table and screaming in my direction, like a little dictator, "I. AM. HUNGRY. AND I WANT MY BAGEL NOOOOOW." His face was flushed. He punctuated his demand by pounding the table with both fists. It was so insane that I simultaneously 1) wanted to laugh because it was so over-the-top and 2) worried that he was having some sort of emotional breakdown for which I should be seeking him professional help. I reminded him - calmly - that speaking like that was unacceptable and then told him that I was working on getting him his breakfast but first I was going to make Kai, who was waiting patiently, his waffle. Jules threw a fit. When I presented his bagel, spread generously with cream cheese, he threw another fit, shouting "NOT ENOUGH CREAM CHEESE" over and over. I mostly ignored this outburst. 

Then the tide turned. Julian ate this bagel. And then he politely requested another half. He thanked me. It was like the craziness had never happened. It was as if Julian had forced himself to make a fresh start. 

Jules was sweet and helpful when I picked him up a school. He had a great day, his teachers told me. He gobbled up his dinner (which contained peppers and onions - which usually provoke a protest). And then this happened: 

Kai was tugging on Demps and I corrected him, saying that it hurt Dempsey. "Owie." Jules took Kai by the hand and walked him into the next room. (I watched through the doorway.) He pointed to the floor and said, "Kai. Sit down. Sit down right there." (It cracked me up to see Kai obey him immediately.) "Kai," Jules said. "We don't pull people. It hurts." (I love that Demps is a person.) "You can get up now." Kai just stared up him. Jules repeated in a kind brotherly tone, "You can stand up now." Then he helped him up and and walked him back into the kitchen.

PS: Day 36 also rocked because...  I ran 2 miles, made dinner in the slow cooker, scored 4 shirts at Banana Republic for $30, TOTAL, and used gift cards to pay. Got great work done at New Moon with Ri. Ran into two of my favorite profs from UVM.  Visited with Penelope and amazing little Amelia, who snuggled on my shoulder for nearly an hour. I'll expect an equally wonderful Day 63. 

PPS: I think that Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' brilliant campaign (see above) is a sign that I should take the plunge and buy the Keurig I've been contemplating. Your thoughts?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 35

Yes, I take things too personally. But come on... when your 3-year-old says (for not the first time) that he doesn't want you to read to him because he "doesn't like you. [I] only like Daddy." And then when you tell him that saying things like that makes people feel badly and you feel like you're going to cry, he laughs maniacally and says, "Cry! CRY!"... You can't help but wonder what you're doing to make you so apparently sucky and what sort of sucky parenting tactics must have led to this sort of bad behavior. You sort of just want to take a bath in a bottle of wine.  Or something like that. #ithoughtonlyteenagerswereassholestotheirparents

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 34

I vow to run but the treadmills at the Y were all full. I settled for the last empty elliptical. 
Half full: I worked out

I imagined 1.5 hours of hardcore sweaty, giggling energy burn at Family Gym. Jules spent most of the time working the water fountain. Some pint-sized punk walked up to Kai and kept pushed him hard (totally unprompted) just before running off to steal a little girl's juice box. After that, Kai clung to my leg.
Half full: The boys did run and jump and roll...

 Quarter-full, dammit. They're taunting me.

I was looking forward to returning the Diego video we've watched a gazillion times in two weeks (we renewed). We forgot the library bag at home.
Half full: Kai had a blow-out, and the library has a bathroom; we ran into Ken and Stacy in the childrens' reading room

I was convinced the Steelers would win after an impressive comeback. They lost about 2 seconds into OT. (Note: I'm not a hardcore football fan so, really, I was mostly bummed thinking about how sad Mike Tomlin and the team, not to mention the hundreds of my friends who bleed black and yellow, must feel.)
Half full: Those Bronco guys must be super psyched. 

Full: Jon made some kick-ass lasagna (plus one to freeze for our friends who just had a baby).
Full: We went on a slippery family "night walk," well-lit by a full - or fullish - moon. 

Better than I thought... 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Days 33

Jules and I had a great date this morning. We walked to the playground and, step-by-step, he taught me ("this is how you do it") how to "use" a tire swing and how to slide down the fireman's pole ("mom, you're good")... then we rescued old tennis balls from the half-frozen "crick" (which is how you say creek if you're from Western PA) using a stick we spend a good long time searching for.
I wrote his name in the snow with my foot and he bunny-hopped from letter to letter shouting out each one as he landed. We visited with a black cat that crossed our path (which doesn't make me nervous) and sang songs as we scaled the hill home. (He walked nearly 2 miles without whining.) When we got back, I made him a cup of "cocoa with chocolate," explaining (nicely) why his name for the drink is redundant. 

In the winter, my inclination is to coze up inside with the boys, doing art projects, reading books, or baking--but I'm trying hard to help Jules and Kai become peeps who love being outside--in all seasons--much more than I do. (Speaking of getting kids outside, I'm looking forward to reading Last Child in the Woods, which my friend Lisa recommended to me recently...) To that end, my "shut up and go" mantra seems working for me right now. Of course, the fact that it was nearly 40 degrees today made it much easier for me to "go" - and for that, I am grateful. 

What gets you "going"?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 32

Interviewed a cool woman. Transcribed the interview. Finished a novel over lunch and then some (while the boys were at daycare - this felt akin to paying someone to clean my home while standing by and eating bon-bons - not good). Emailed with our next Fixing Dinner winner for Eat Healthy Your Way, a magazine I edit that's distributed exclusively in the military commissaries. Turns out that she (also mom of two boys) and I have very similar tastes in boys names. Her oldest is Isaac, which was our first choice for Kai's but juxtaposed with Olin, wasn't good. Say it. You'll see. Her Isaac would have been Xavier if it hadn't clashed with her last name. My interviews always end up "somewhere else" - even if done over email. But connecting with random strangers is part of why I love my work so. Impromptu drinks with Ri and Eliza. Great day, now that I managed to ditch my guilt over reading my novel during the workday, then heading out for a girls' night.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 31

I love, love, love reading to my boys. Right now, Jules favors choices that take a long time (our routine is "three books before bed") and, cleverly, he has been reaching for big find-and-seek activity books at bedtime.

On an evening when it's already 8:17 (bedtime is 7:30ish), a typical conversation around Julian's interactive book choice might go something like this:

Me: "That is not a book, that is a game."
Jules: "Yes, it's a booooook." 
Me: "Well, you're right. It's a book but let's pick another one, one we can read."
Jules: "We can read this. It has words."

The boy has made his point. With solid facts. (And do admit I admire his negotiation skills.) So we "read" it ... and after tucking him in, I move all of these "game books" from his room. And somehow they walk themselves back upstairs damn it.

Kai's current favorites include Freight Train, Big Red Barn and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By "favorites include" I mean that we read these books--and pretty much only these books--over and over and over again. Which is fine. Because they all have great rhythm. And so I've never stopped to even think about the words, about whether brown bear can see the red bird and so on. About whether all of the animals would really huddle together for a slumber party in the big red barn. Which is strange because it is my nature to factcheck everything. So when my friend Wendy told me today about an article in The New York Times that looks at the science behind the animal behaviors outlined in the very kid books I've been reading for 3 1/2 years, I rushed to read it. 

Brilliant. I am, however, a little concerned that now having been enlightened about the visual limitations Brown Bear, I won't be able to swing right into "I see a red bird..." quite so breezily... 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 30

Today, I started a new gig. I have a new office in a new part of the building. The building that suffers a chronic and widespread rodent problem. I'm not kidding when I say that "baiting mice" was an unofficial bullet point on our former CFO's job description. And, yes, I do mean Chief Financial Officer. This executive took his mice-clearing task as seriously as any other. But Dick has moved on and, alas, the mice have returned. With a vengeance. Luckily we're relocating in a few months. For that, I am grateful. 

But today... today, I saw this big guy crawling around on my colleague's desk:

Real or fake?
Okay, well not that exact guy--that's my kid's plastic roach, spotted on the living room floor tonight. But it was a bug that big. An insect that looked a little more prehistoric, more like this: 

That, my friends, is a stink bug, which we discovered after my friend smashed it, as I stood by for support. (My apologies, oh compassionate ones.) These bugs really do emit a potent stench. I was sort of shocked. I did not know that stink bugs, those highly invasive insects that certainly are a big problem in my home state of Pennsylvania, had migrated to Vermont. 

I started to doubt our ID: the smashed bag was actually longer and leaner than the lil' stinkers you tend to see in pictures. (Oh why didn't I grab my iPhone for proper classification?) But one couldn't deny that malodor and later this evening,  I found this Burlington Free Press bit about a stink bug sighting in Vermont. Should we be reporting today's run-in to Vermont's entomology authorities? (I'm kidding but not really ... your thoughts?) 

And I can't help but worry (a mad skill of mine): Did I carry in this critter? My parents and sister were in for the holidays, from Pennsylvania. Was Mr. Stinky a stowaway, passing between us, from sweater to sweater? I'm itchy just thinking about it. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 29

It was 9 degrees today. Did I mention that I'm not so much a fan of the cold? But in the spirit of being a good sport--a grateful, positive person, if you will--I decided to embrace this day.

To take advantage of the good fortune of my working from home on this frigid January Tuesday, I decided I'd "rock" what I'd like to call a cozy Burlington ballet outfit. I layered a comfy wool sweater over a soft turtleneck. I pulled on the new warm "boot socks" my mom bought me for Christmas and stretchy skinny jeans which aren't of the Pajama Jean label but are pretty much the same thing. Then I pulled on the leg warmers I knit myself a few years ago, one of which is longer than the other. Much better than the yoga pants and running shirt I'd been wearing since the night before, I decided. (Never mind that it was noon and I hadn't showered. Still haven't actually.)

Pleased that I'd chosen to "put myself together" for the sake of a mood boost, I put in a pair of cool earrings that I bought this summer at Sweet Lady Jane. If not quite stylish, this little ensemble that I'd assembled was definitely reflective of my style. (Think: I'm-leaving-dance class-but-too-lazy-to-get-fully-dressed.) Then I took this photo, angled to make my thigh look much smaller than it really is.

Why yes, I did knit that there leg warmer!
Mood boosted. After logging a few hours of writing (a story that I should be wrapping right about now), I left to pick up the boys. Having spent nearly two weeks hanging with them for full days, it felt a weird to have a whole day without them.

BUT.... My fingers remained frozen for the entire 15-minute drive. I could see my breath with every exhale. When I entered Kai's classroom, I noticed that the tips of my fingers were yellow. Yellow. I bundled Kai in clothes that made him wider than he was tall and we headed to Julian's classroom where I fought with him to put on his coat, hat and gloves. During this time, Kai ditched his hat. I let him enjoy the freedom of a bare head while I fought with his stupid (new) zip-up fatso toddler mittens that wouldn't zip. Finally, I conceded that they were too small and let him go outside with tiny bare hands, hoping that they, too, would not turn yellow or worse. I will spare you the interim details and skip to the part where Jules strips down on the ride home, causing me to have to repeat this entire process in our driveway. I hate winter. Today, I hate Vermont.

But, yes, I am grateful that once in a while it is warmer than 9 degrees in Vermont. And, for today, that's enough.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 28

Kai is 20 months old. Today. I have never liked when parents of older kids tell me to "enjoy these years, they go so fast." I know they go fast. And I'm not happy about it, even if I do dig so many things about every new stage. Like now when Kai dances with me, he says, "Listen. Beat." And sort of sings along to "Pumped Up Kicks" (probably not the best thing, I know). And when Jules interrupts my made-up bedtime stories to dazzle me with his new rhyming skills. I do soak up every moment of these moments. Because, alas, they go too fast. 

I found these three remaining containers of breast milk for Kai guy in the freezer today while I was cleaning it out (ironically while procrastinating writing a story about pumping breastmilk...) 
Liquid gold depreciated...  
And I got all sad when I realized that Kai's been around pretty much exactly as long as I carried him plus the amount of time I pumped after returning to work. Having been a miserable knocked-up chick and pump-disliker (not quite hater), I think this seems like quite an eternity. And yet... it's gone so fast. 

I know I need to adopt a glass-half-full perspective about this... and a glass of wine might help. But we're out.

Days 19 - 27

A blur of family activities and celebrations. Within these days, there were four official holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's. According to Jules, a "holiday" means eating gold-foiled chocolate coins and blowing out candles, getting gummies and mangoes. And snow. This week, Julian told us, "Kwanzaa brought the snow." Huh?

I spent lots of time in my PJs - mostly because it takes a long time to get a bunch of people showered and two little boys away from their animal figurines to venture out into 12 degree weather. (A note on pajamas: They're comfy, particularly when you've been eating M&Ms for consecutive days that span more than a week - but wearing them for prolonged periods makes me feel sick and lazy.)

Just before sledding (yes, there was snow).
Photo by Jen Clarkin
A sum of what I've learned this week: 

1. I miss my family lots - all of it, including Jon's.

2. A well-planned just-busy-enough day does wonders for my mental state. On Day 19, I used the free personal training session I got for joining the Y and did a kick-ass workout, came home to spend a day with the boys, who were off from school. We baked cookies, went to the library, met Jon for lunch. Came home spent some playing "quietly" (that means arty-type things not the absence of loud noise), then decorated our cookies. That evening, we had "Christmas" with Chris and Ri, Drew and Mikey... awesome. Plus, there was the fun anticipation of lots of days off, with family around.

3. Without exercise (which ceased after the Y workout), I feel icky and on-edge.

4. Doing spontaneous activities for which I'm not prepared (like going sledding in jeans and the wrong boots) makes me anxious and cranky. But if I just stop complaining and jump on for the ride, it's actually super fun. Next time, I probably should just skip the complaining. So if I have one 2012 resolution I guess that's it: "Shut up and go." Wheee!