Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 114

Lately, conversations between Jon and me go a little something like this:

"Do you know where Julian's shoes are?"

"Did you feed Digs yet? He's acting hungry." (Always the answer: yes - he's full, just trying to trick us.)

"Did the cats get fed? They're acting crazy too."

"How was pickup?"

"Maria said you mentioned that you talked with her about hanging out with them this weekend - what's the plan?"

"Did you talk to your mom yet?"

You get the picture. They're not really conversations - just a series of questions spread through the day, mostly about the various tasks tied to being the two reigning adults in the house. 

His and hers 

But tonight Jon and I had a HOT date tonight (see photo). I was perusing PubMed -'cause I'm cool like that. He was exploring places to visit during our upcoming drive through several states, over several days, in our van with our (highly energetic) boys  and our sweet, sweet dog Digs who weighs more than 80 pounds - that's nearly three times the weight of a Iegal canine companion, per the website of the hotel we've booked for a Saturday-night stay. (The person on the phone says no problem.) 

I'm certain a relationship expert could have a field day with our "couple situation" these days but here's what I have to say: we have two awesome kids under four, two increasingly intense careers, one messy house and three demanding furry children. So... the fact that we can enjoy sitting side by side, typing, works for me right now. 

But I do look forward to leaving the boys with Jon's parents and going jogging with him through the streets, like we did in Forest Hills, in the spring of 1999, when he told me his last name and that he was probably moving to Spain. #holycrapithasbeenforever

Tell me: What's your secret to staying connected?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 112 - 113

Kai and I, we've got mad skills. We can communicate telepathically. 

Exhibit A, tonight at bedtime: 
Here's what I was thinking (as he curled his no-longer-tiny bod into mine, his head resting just under my chin): He still fits, but barely. I'm just going to hold him until he falls asleep. And then keep at it. The dishes can wait. Actually, Jon's doing them. I'm going to relish these sweet snuggly moments. They're numbered. 

So I'm thinking this...

And here's what Kai said: "I wanna more to rock." (That's five words, yo, never mind that they're in some sort of random order. Also, he took his thumb out of his mouth to say them.) He was feeling the love. He wanted to keep snuggling in the rocking chair. Or maybe he was reliving our pre-dinner dance party, hoping to rock out to Mos Def again. PS: You gotta watch this performance of "Quiet Dog" on Letterman. PPS: It's Mos Def. Not Kai and me. 

My friend Kristen wonders whether Kai's fresh haircut
is keeping him from properly rocking out.
It's a look, KB - it's a look.  :-)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 108 - 111

Is it normal to worry that you're going to totally f-up your kids? Oh, of course it is--to a degree. But I'm pretty certain that parental-failure-fear plagues me more frequently than it does the average mom. Because, via nature or nurture, I'm a worrier--an anxious, ruminating fretter. Which, in my mind, justifies my fear of f*cking up the boys: will they inherit my neuroticism? My fear of (fill in the blank)?  (Well at least they can print off this blog and hand it straight over to their therapists.)

But then I read something like Jeanette Walls' The Glass Castle  (amazing book) and I think: Jules and Kai are going to be just fine. And I remember, too, that who my boys grow up to be, yes, depends a lot upon me. And Jon. But we aren't going to teach them everything they need to know about the world and how to make the most of it. We can't possibly. And so I hope that they'll learn from a young age, to gravitate toward others, too, worth emulating. Folks like UB (ewe-bee), from whom I've learned many a great lessons. For instance... 

Day 109: UB dancing off the Dark Ages.

 ... you show up for family. Maybe you're wearing an Austin Powers costume. Perhaps you're sporting a tux. Sometimes it's an enchanted evening and other times it's an awkward event, but you get yourself there. And you make memories. And, by god, you take lots of photos. LOTS of them. And videos. So many that people start treating you like the paparazzo that you are and hand-blocking the camera. And then you jet out for a run. Or to visit an old friend. Who is thrilled beyond words to see you.

... when someone comes to visit, you shine the silver, thaw out some nut bread and draft an itinerary that can't possibly be completed in the allotted time. But somehow it is. And along the way, this  full-velocity living is slightly uncomfortable for some. It sends others down a path just shy of a coronary. But they're always glad they were dragged along for the ride. Or at least they get over it. Aggravation fades way to fond memories.

... "friend" your friends' friends. There's a reason they like you and they like them. The more the merrier. Colliding worlds are cool.

... to thine own self be true. Life is too short. Live it up. Sip a St-Germain cocktail. The night is young. And there's coffee in the pot.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 107

Here's my recurring thought of the day: "I should be  ______ but instead I am  _________."

For instance, I should have been writing copy. But instead, I was finding influencers in the health field to follow on Twitter. (Which is TOTALLY applicable to my job but perhaps not today's top priority. Perhaps a better Twitter priority: figuring out how to actually use Twitter efficiently.)

Or, tonight, after putting the boys to bed, I should have been packing for DC but instead I was painting my toes teal.

And then, I should have been cleaning the kitchen but instead I was cutting and pasting all of my friends' reading suggestions from Facebook onto this easily accessible page.

I really should have been packing but instead
I was messaging my sis pics of potential outfits to yay or nay.
But guilt is a funny debilitating and annoying thing because there's always something else you could be doing. And, really, shouldn't you just be OWNING what you've chosen to do? You know, I almost skipped yoga at lunch today but going to Kerri-Ann's 40-minute class - conveniently just down the hall in the conference room - was JUST what I needed. (Thanks, Wendell, for coming to get me.) 

And, for just one tiny little moment tonight, I felt that maybe I should have been a little more aggressive about getting the boys to sleep before 9 p.m. But there's no school tomorrow... and reading a big stack of books - half of them Christmas stories, Julian's choice - and then lying on the floor next to Kai's crib, with Jules wedged in between us, reaching up for his little bro's grasp, smiling with pride as he whispered in my ear, "Kai loves my hand" was just what I should have been doing.  #screwguilt 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 106

"Mom! What are you doing to yourself?" 

Not just what are you doing - what are you doing to yourself. Jules is alarmed. Horrified. Confused.

"Why are you pinching your face like that?" 

I am plucking my eyebrows.

Maintaining well-groomed brows without the help of a professional is trickier than it sounds. One moment, you're a tweeze away from perfect arches; the next, you look like you might have gotten too close to your birthday cake. So I use a light touch. (Side note: Waxing is worse and I have a passport - the one I carried from 1999 to 2009 - to prove it.) But this morning, waiting for Jules to finish brushing his teeth so that I could go in for the final chomper sweep, I noticed that I was NOT in danger of overplucking. On the contrary, I was in perilously close to a faint unibrow.

But I'd never even considered that plucking your brows might seem kind of, well, barbaric. And I realized that if I'm going to do things like pluck my eyebrows when I tell my kids that they shouldn't pinch each other or bite their friends, I'm going to have to figure out a succinct and satisfying explanation for why people do things like rip their hairs out one by one with a pointy metal appliance. Obviously, I'm not there yet.

Today, I'm grateful for a new perspective made possible by Julian's fresh eyes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 105

Post-run ramblings... Put one foot in front of the other for 6.5 miles and a certain kind of clarity emerges. Today, I formulated a prescription for greater happiness. Mine, and by association, all of the boys (and the two girly cats) in the house. Here goes...

Less: Judging
More: Noticing

Less: Running intervals on treadmill
More: Jogging on the path with Digs

Less: Eyeliner
More: Red lipstick. (On fully conditioned lips. Else it ain't pretty.)

Less: Grumbling
More: Smiling

Less: Hand-holding
More: Hand-holding

Less: Rule-making
More: List-making

Less: Static
More: Cowbell

To be continued...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 101 - 104

Condensed version: Pizza and ice cream with new friends in the 'hood. Walking home in the mist, one kid each. Good night. Good morning. Sneaks on. Three-hour Digs-stroll - with a foggy start - for leeks and bagels. Over the bike path and through the woods. Potato leek soup. Irish soda bread. Corned beef. Boiled cabbage. Fruity rainbow. Lisa's mint-chocolate-ice-cream pie. Shamrock tattoos on little faces. Leprechaun Love!!! Guinness. Sleeping in. Church Street cut short by an earache. Snuggling on the couch. Running in dance clothes to the Postal Service station on Pandora. Characters cruising by on bikes, moseying along in groups. Woman carrying a green umbrella. Strange. Cut to a subway scene, summer of '97: bittersweet mix on my taxi-cab yellow Walkman, supersad to leave Manhattan. I'd be back, then gone again. Memory's such a fascinating thing. First cheeseburgers of the season. Scrubbing off shamrocks. Sunny commute. Sunny cube. Sunny walk. Grateful. Hard to work. It's spring. 

... and I'm still afraid of driving in cities. More than a quarter through my year. Must. Get. Moving. Nothing like numbering your days to make them fly by faster. Damn.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Day 100

Pondering, after 2 glasses of red wine and 2.5 bowls of butternut squash, lentil and chick pea stew with couscous: 

Maybe my best and worst traits are two sides of the same (I-talk-too-much) coin. I interrupt, forget to censor and go on for far longer than is polite. But I also draw out, encourage, help define. Maybe? Hmmm.... 


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day 99

This picture of Jon and Mike (the kind of friend we call fam) makes me very happy. And so does this video that my Allegheny pal Charles posted in response to seeing it on Facebook tonight. It's times like these that I wish I could have a big old tea party where all of my worlds (ok, maybe not all) could collide.  These three guys would most certainly have a lot of laughs together - and amid all the silliness I bet they could get that pesky healthcare problem all sorted out. 

Tonight: Grateful for so my funny, smart, and compassionate friends, both old and new. 

We party hard, yo!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 98

In the spirit of "if you don't have anything nice to say..." I offer you this short list of things for which I was/am grateful today:

1. This man, who showed me exactly how to sharpen a knife. This exercise was critical in being able to chop the butternut squash for tomorrow night's dinner.
2. That I was able to fit in a 4-mile mind-clearing run.
3. That despite an incredibly awful-sounding cough and midday concern that it might be more, Julian's lungs look "fabulous." (His ears not so much -  but they don't seem to be bothering him.)
4. The bedside manner of the doc who delivered #3 news. (That she, too, has two boys, aged 4 and 2, does not surprise me.)
5. Jon's dealing with the messy kitchen while I wrap up work.
6. Kai's smooches, which lately he's been planting - with fully pursed lips and a complementary "I love you" - about every 7 seconds.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day 97

An extra hour of light brought everyone outside today and on my drive home I saw sidewalks filled with strollers (and by that I mean both leisurely walkers and baby rides), joggers and happy dogs. The little guys ate their dinner early and we dusted off the scooter and the trike and rolled down to watch Owen and Emmett smash the ice of their backyard rink. I love how everything "wakes" up at the start of spring. 

What I don't love about the "spring ahead" time change is how little guys don't know that it's time to sleep. (Well, because it's not...) 


"I have a nail problem!" 

Jules and I have been talking a lot about problems lately. I want him to know that instead of whining about an issue, you can identify the problem and you can chose to do something about it. You can think of a solution and try it out. Apparently he's homed in on the problem: his nail needs trimmed (since he's been picking it). It also seems that he's come up with a potential solution: Scream at the top of his lungs so that we come running because we don't want Kai to wake up.

So I go upstairs with the nail clippers. Apparently he's "already fixed the problem," with another solution. "I picked it." 

But the problem is, he has another problem. His leg hurts. Luckily, he's ready with a solution. Two actually: "Maybe I should bend it. Or maybe I should buy a new one." He sounds like he's serious. I can't tell. I start cracking up. I can't stop. He thinks this is awesome and hilarious. We laugh and laugh. I calm him down, I pat his back. I tell him that he's a funny boy but that it's really time for bed. He agrees.

I settle in downstairs...  "I have a problem!" Up again. He doesn't really have a problem. He has a story.  About chocolate cupcakes - and one "banilla" one. For Emma's birthday. She got a whole one, everyone else got a half. I kiss him goodnight - again. And go back down.

It's been six minutes. It's 9:56. Goodnight? 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 96

Burlington was a balmy 50-something today. I was feeling fab all (sunny) day--until I found myself regretting that I hadn't gone for a run. On this perfect, 50-something March day. I felt guilty. Why hadn't I at least logged a short jog? I thought about it.

J & J starting some seeds.  

Well... I had run "really, really, really, really fast - like a Cheetah" around the yard, again and again, dragging the Radio Flyer in wide loops, stopping periodically to take invisible tickets. 

... And I'd walked to the dog park with all four of my boys (humans + Digs!), stopping to spot the singing cardinal and appreciating all the other tunes whose artists I couldn't identify, pointing out exactly where Kai, Ri and I had seen the adolescent-boy moose galloping down the bike path when Kai was three months old. "Yeah, moose," he'd nodded in agreement, as if he totally remembered. 

... I whipped up a batch of banana wheat-germ muffins with Jules. 

... I danced to Fat Boy Slim with Kai. 

... I tossed baseballs to JuJu (and taught him the valuable lesson that no matter how badly your pitcher sucks it is not polite to yell "too high" and "too low" in a disparaging tone).

... I made a yummy new recipe (samosa-inspired twice-baked potatoes from Veganomicon) ... for family dinner with Chris and Ri. I had a Red Stripe while sauteeing and stuffing. It tasted of spring. 

It was awesome day. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day 94 - 95

"I think that they won't let us squeeze the cow's penis today..." 

Jon is standing at the counter, flipping oatmeal pancakes; I'm helping myself to a cup of coffee, which clearly I'm going to need for this conversation. We steal a sideways glance, both confused by Julian's 7 a.m. statement.

"Huh?" I need some clarification. 

Jules continues, "To get the milk out. I don't think that we'll get to see the cows today." 


Finally brave enough to meet eyes, Jon and I share a quick smile. Quickly, I look away, moving the conversation along because I don't trust I can keep from dissolving into hysterical laughter. (For the record, we've already covered "what makes a mammal" with Jules - we hit the farm often and I nursed both boys. Still, it would seem we need a refresher.)

"Jules, I think you're probably right about the cows. But we're going to see the sheep and baby lambs," I tell him. Lambs. Baby lambs is totally redundant, I know, but I can't quit saying it. "And Maite is coming us. YAY!"


Maite is Julian's best friend at school. Every day for the last year-and-a-half, they've been hugging each other to the ground (literally) each morning, snuggling and fighting like cats through the day and then skipping out to our cars, holding hands, each night.

In two days, Maite is moving back to Italy. Jules hasn't said he's upset about it but there have been signs: difficult drop-offs, touch-and-go moments at school. So Jon and I have been trying to prep him: We're talking about how we'll talk to Maite on the computer, how we'll write her letters and send her pictures from Vermont. He's fine - we're the ones who seem sad - he's most interested in whether Maite will send him presents. (Oy.)


So today, we visit the farm, we see the "baby lambs." We pet Penelope the donkey and we head home for pizza and play time. All the while, Jules and Maite are, well, Jules and Maite: all snuggly and sweet with each other one minute, bossy and aggressive the next. 

Then, while they're arting it up at the kitchen table, Jon and I overhear this:

Jules: "Are you sad because you're going to Italy? Are you going to cry?" 

Maite: "No. I am going to Italy. I am going to get notes from everyone and then I am going to come back someday." 

Jules: "But are you going to cry?"

Maite: "No. I am going to Italy."

When it was time for Maite to head home, Julian decided he didn't want to ride along with Jon; instead, he wanted to stay home and "play bubbles" with me. On her way out, Jules gave Maite an orange bottle of bubbles. 

Once Julian and I were alone (Kai was napping), he took the wand from his (red) bottle and pursed his little lips to create a parade of iridescent orbs - which he chased down with the wand. Then, he watched the bubbles pop, one by one. He did this again and again. Then he burst into tears. "I want the orange bubbles. Maite is going to take them to Italy and I want them back." 

Oh, bud, I totally know what you mean. And here's what I would have told you if I could have trusted myself not to cry: 

You're going to have to say goodbye again and again and again. But you're also going to get to say a lot of hellos, and meet a lot of new people and see a lot of new places and things. (Like baby lambs!) The trick is to not let yourself get so lost in the intense emotions of the goodbyes and hellos that you miss all of the awesomeness of the in-betweens. Which totally isn't easy. That I know. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 93

Today, Mike B. and I met for coffee, a catch up and our first session of play-making. First conceptualized in oh, maybe 2007, the concept is brilliant, the characters are already cracking us up and the artistic direction is gonna be out of this world. Never mind that we know absolutely nothing about writing a play (likely as evidenced by my using all the wrong terms). We'll learn. Maybe it'll suck. Or maybe it won't. But it's happening, yo. Tips welcome. More soon. 

Today: Grateful for Mike B., my creative co-conspirator. 
Sketchy business.

PS: All of my books on the Algonquin Round Table will be making the (cut-the-clutter) cut. Oh how I've missed you, Mrs. Parker, Mr. Benchley, and friends.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 92

Today I did not spend even 5 minutes outside. Save for those brief moments of  buckling my big boys into their seats, leading them from the parking lot into their school, walking myself into my new grey cube and back out again, sprinting into Hannaford for bananas (it's yellow week in Kai's chickadee room) and back out again, I pretty much kept myself behind closed doors.

I declined an invitation for a sunny stroll with two co-workers. I overlooked the opportunity for a full-moon pajama walk with the boys and the diggity.  

I feel guilty and I feel wasteful. But forcing a positive spin, I (guess) I am grateful for realizing right now that I'll aim to make tomorrow more like yesterday when I recessed for a bike path run. It was a gorgeous, mild March day and, after my 3 miles (in less than 25 minutes - woot! woot!)  I slowed to a walk and snapped this pic: 

I love how your (or at least my) brain reads this
in the correct order: Keep Right. More than that, I love that you
(or at least I) can read this to mean, "Stay on the good path."
Tomorrow, I will breath fresh air. For at least 20 minutes. As Julian says with an outstretched hand, waiting for a shake... DEAL. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day 91

So we're putting a kabosh on buying things, making do with what we have, learning to live on less. We're also making a huge effort to cut back on clutter. Jon and I are approaching this effort as a fun and exciting experiment. But can we really exist without paper towels--or at least without Costo cases of them? And where do we draw the line? Use up the dozens of half-full (and Olin dares to call me pessimist!) shampoos, lotions and other potions scattered in drawers, cabinets and Dopp kits around the house? Absolutely. Stand strong on not buying any new shampoo and, when we run out, head to the YMCA showers to borrow the pine-scented green goop? Probably not. But a purge of just one drawer (and half of another) today suggests that this initiative may not but as difficult as I first imagined.

I think we'll manage just fine with the stash of stuff we've been squirreling around the house. Here's what I mean...

Happy birthday to you? And you, you and you?

My contacts are disposable. This situation is ridiculous.

Lest you think that I'm obsessed with fighting germs... all
of my antibacterial weapons are sitting dormant in drawers (and
probably in abandoned diapers bags too)... 

And yet we all have chapped lips...

Hey, I read journal articles for a living... 
Seriously, though, if you're looking for a highlighter or a contact case, I'm your girl... 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Day 86 - 90

Over the last few days, Jon and I have been talking a lot about buying less and buying used--which is exciting to me for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I love hand-me-downs. I love that second- (or third-) hand clothes, books and kitchen items have had a life before my life with them. I love that in this former life that they were loved just as much as I love them, likely for different reasons. But--who knows?--maybe for the same ones too.

Using the same baking sheets my Grandma Mary and Grandpa Bill used to bake nutbread is, well, a special treat in itself.

Jon, making the nutbread that's been in my fam forever. Its path:
Us < Uncle Bill < Grandma Mary and Grandpa Bill < Kuma Peloza
That pot? Jon's sis Jen gave it to us when she got married--and new pans.
I dig that Julian, and now Kai, are connected to my friends' kids--through Sumner's snow pants (and pretty much everything else he ever wore) and Marty's fireman shirt--even if they don't often (or ever) play together because they're separated by too many years or too many miles.

It delights me to think that when when we page through Goodnight, Gorilla (as we did tonight) the words Julian and Kai come up with to describe the images are likely similar--but not identical--to the ones my friend Jeffrey's girls used to tell the story when they read the book eight or ten years ago. Or that when Julian sings "Jingle Cats" (as he's done pretty much every night for last couple of weeks), he's as least as jubilant as my friend Val was to receive this book as a gift, Christmas 2008. (Ha!)

The other day, Jon and I were talking about whether or not we should save a few of our boys' favorite outfits from when they were very young. We didn't really come to any real conclusion. But the more I think about it, the more I feel like passing these cherished duds along to someone else will sort of (to paraphrase a favorite band) prolong their magic. What do you think?