Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 177

Tonight when Demps called for me to let him in, I stepped out instead. The sky was a deep blue, with a few sparkly speckles, a stunning backdrop to layers of tree-shapes that looked, to me, like cardstock cut-outs. The air was warm. But also a little cool. 

It occurred to me that there are a lot of nice nights like this that I miss entirely because I'm inside cursing the mess: the loads of dirty laundry and dishes to do, the plastic animals and tiny men strewn across the floors, the wet towels... and when I'm done cursing, and picking up, I move on to packing up - all the stuff that needs to leave with us tomorrow - or sometimes I skip that step and just sit around obsessing about it. And all the while that I'm doing that there is that navy night sky and that delicious warm-cool air. What a waste. 

Also while I was outside. I took this picture...

... which got me thinking, "doesn't everything look absolutely different when you change your perspective?" Look at all of that life in that window. That awesome amazing plant window that Jon and I picked out as a special splurge when we remodeled our kitchen 6 years ago. 

Today, I am grateful for the epiphany that sometimes it just takes stepping through a sliding glass door to change your whole outlook. And tomorrow, I will switch up my standard routines. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 175

A little while ago I sat next to Kai in the pale turquoise rocking chair (where I've made many sweet memories in the last four years) and asked him what his favorite thing about the day had been.

"Runners," he replied without missing a beat.

I'm pretty sure that Kai was talking about the hundreds (thousands?) of people - including my sister Kate - who passed by our house on Sunday, just shy of the 20th mile of the Vermont City Marathon. This was the first year Kai participated fully as a member of the OT crew, handing out orange slices and watermelon wedges, freezer pops and ice chips... sounding cowbells...  screaming "go, go, go" and slapping high fives. I missed the party at our place* since I ran the third leg of our Foxy Trot relay, then waited for Casey (our #5) to cross the finish line. Which was no problem. The finish line was a very exciting place to be.

3 of 5 girls of Foxy Trot (L to R): Casey, Kate and me. Missing: Ri and Lisa.
Sweet shirts by the fabulous Mike Balzano

I basked in the VCM spirit all day. And what a beautiful day it was. The sky was cerulean; the lake, sparkly... Most of my family (mom, sis, bro and sis-in-law to be) was in town for the race. There were armies of people running to raise funds for all sorts of causes and five National Guardsman who completed 26.2 miles wearing 45-pound packs to honor the men and women who serve our country. Taiko drummers kept a steady beat on Battery Hill... preschoolers and their grandparents banged makeshift drums all along the path.  Turquoise-topped volunteers kept everyone heading in the right direction, hydrated.  People pushed themselves farther and faster than they'd ever imagined they could go. (Some of them thanks to Jan Leja, who heads up the Vermont chapter of Team in Training and is one of the most amazing peeps I know.) It was absolutely awesome. Definitely one of my favorite days of the year, Kai. So while your fave-thing bedtime response was a day (or two) late, it most certainly was not "a dollar short."

*Note: Please do not be offended if I did not invite you to hang at the OT during the race. I did not get my sh*t together this year enough to send out an email. Also, I was not here. Now consider this your 2013 invite: Bring your chairs and your cheers and more cowbell(s) ... and join us on the OT by 9:30.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 170

I posted the picture below on Facebook and a friend from college called it "alternative magazine cover worthy." (hey, thanks!) So what, then, would be the cover story? Well... It might be an evocative political piece about throwback values (something I'd love to read!) or a feature on how people my age and older are thinking about food in ways more like their grandparents than their parents (I've actually written about that before).

I wish I had time to tackle such topics, and do them justice. But right now I am sitting in a parking garage, typing on my phone, a tad early for a conference because I rushed out this morning worried that I might be I will just tell you the story behind the photo:

- I have been at a conference all week.
- My mom flew in yesterday, early evening.
- I saw a note from Megan on Facebook that reminded me I had to make muffins for the preschool bake sale.
- We (Mom, Jon, boys and I) went to Flatbread for dinner.
- We walked to the Farmhouse to wish Mike B. a happy birthday (left Jon there).
- Mom and I went home ... bathed and "booked" the boys, then put them to bed
- I cleaned up the kitchen (tying on this apron, a thrifted gift from Holly).
- Mom and I chatted.
- I complained that I needed to make muffins.
- Jon came home.
- We all chatted.
- I discovered we had no bran.
- It became 11:30 pm.
- I pulled out The Joy of Cooking (the 1975 version, a 36th birthday gift from Sister Kate).
- I realized I had a shit-ton of sour cream. And strawberries.
- It became midnight. I was tired and sorta annoyed.
- I poured some wine.
- I made sour cream muffins. Mini ones. I added strawberries. They were organic.
- I made Jon take this picture of me.
- I chatted with Mom and Jon. I was more tired but less annoyed.
- We sampled muffins. Yum - their taste was sorta like that of pancakes.

I dropped them off this morning at Julian's classroom for the bake sale. He is at home with Grandma Kath. And I'm about to go inside now to listen to scientific lectures on how to "combat obesity." (Which I find fascinating.)

Grateful for... my ability to improv with on-hand ingredients, Mom and JO's company, "perfect" gifts (cookbook, apron).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 167

Despite it being a beautiful weekend filled with fantastic weather, great friends, good food and incredibly hopeful news about a sick loved one, I went to bed last night in a bad mood. I was tired and cranky... So many of many weekend to-dos remained uncrossed (least I got to the grocery store)... I'd skipped all of my run(s) and kicked a pint of Ben & Jerry's Green Frozen Yogurt, Peanut Butter Banana (with an extra spoonful of the Raspberry Fudge Chunk for bad measure). I was mean to Jon - an ungrateful partner - and he called me out. Which didn't go well. Because, well, I'm sensitive like that.

Luckily, this morning is bright. Check it out (below). And peep that nicely groomed green that is my yard. Jon mowed it. Yesterday. And he did a lot of other things too... for which I failed to thank him. So thank you, JO. 

And help me out here: How do you stay sane when it seems there's so much to do and everyone to whom you might delegate is pulling his weight 110%?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 166

So tired and cranky right now - but why? Beautiful weekend all around. #chalkituptothesundaynightblues

Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 164

My friends often ask what I eat - guess it's the whole food mag/nutrition degree thing. Lately, here's what my day looks like:

Breakfast: toast spread with mashed avocado (inspired by Boz and Val and the heart-healthy meal plans I am editing)

Snack: about six servings of sugar snap peas (expensive habit)

Lunch: tabbouleh and some bites from the test apple. Today I had a chicken salad and iced latte,

Snack: a Greek yogurt

Dinner: whatever we can get made. See this week's strat plan below...just wrote this up at parking lot of boys' school

Extras: coffee, coffee, coffee, a glass of red wine and (too many) dark chocolate M&Ms, bites from the boys' plates (grrrr!)

How bout you?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day 163

Today I ran with hundreds of others through the hilly streets of the VT state capital. It was in the hour of long shadows. It smelled of team spirit.

Afterwards I had burgers and beers with my fellow runner-workers, some old friends and some of them new. We talked of wedding dresses, public radio and juice blender diets.

I drove home on the highway, admiring the outlines of mountains stretched across a deep-blue canvas. A lone star (planet?) burned bright...and to my right, a long line of Harley Ds paraded past, seemingly in sync with the jazz playing on the radio.

It was a wonderful night - so worth overcoming the inertia that stuck me to my chair hours earlier. Thanks, Wendell, for flipping my mood.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 162

Mother Nature and I seem to be on the same cycle - today, we were in a moody phase. 

One minute, all was was sunny and bright; the next, stormy clouds carried in a tempestuous tantrum  of hail that struck down so forcefully the folks on the other end of my conference call would swear it was a pack of racing throroughbreds. (Seriously. I had to mute the call.) Then, fast as they came, the dark clouds cleared and the precipitation petered out leaving ...  a beautiful mess.  And a fresh start. 

Pretty mud puddle just outside my car door.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day 161

It's been a week filled with performing arts:

To kick off things off, Jon and I celebrated the Sabbath by attending Spielpalast Cabaret's scandalous show. (If you live in Burlington and don't know about this burlesque cabaret, click on the link. Buy tickets. It's running for two more weeks and it's not to be missed.) I laughed. I cried... I laughed harder. I felt inspired and empowered and so very happy to be in a community with an abundance of talented, passionate peeps. I also felt a little sad that I wasn't on stage. (I performed with the group a few years ago and loved every minute of it.) Or dancing at all. I realized that I miss dance. Terribly.

Then I learned that the next day (yesterday) the spring-semester dance classes at the Flynn were putting on a recital. (Many of these classes are taught the amazing Lois Trombley, director and co-creator of Spielpalast.) I pinged Jon and suggested we take the boys. This show wasn't scandalous. But it was awesome. There were middle-school girls (and a couple of boys) rocking what might have been their stage debuts. There was a tap-dancing troupe that included an 80-year-old guy and his daughter. There was a beautiful lyrical performed by Lois's Afro-jazz dancers (including my friend Melissa). And there were two engaged little boys on my lap--and Jon's. They clapped at the right times. Jules asked questions about the moves and the dancers - including "why aren't there more boys?" (Good question. My answer: I don't know but boys who dance are super cool.) After an hour, Jules was hungry and Kai had dropped a nasty bomb in his pants that needed attending. We bailed early... but Jon and I were psyched. Our little boys - just 4 and 2 - seem to appreciate the arts as much as we do. 

It often seems that way... Jules shouts "Vivaldi" whenever we turn on any music that's instrumental. This evening, it was Miles Davis. Usually, our pre-dinner routine involves a kid-initiated dance party to Mos Def or Vampire Weekend. Tonight, Jules demanded that Kai and I make a band with him. He played the ukelele and sang - loudly. I was instructed to beat on two drums while blowing into a plastic flute designed to be used in the bathtub. Kai was assigned to a guitar shaped like a dog that plays itself but opted instead to sit in the middle of our assemble and quietly amuse himself with a picture book about animals. 

But does this mean that Jules is "really into the arts" and could potentially benefit from an arts-focused elementary school curriculum in the near future? Or is my interest in exploring the Integrated Arts Academy for him just me wishing that I could have gone to such an elementary school? Am I projecting my interests onto him... a stage mom in the making? I mean the kid does love basketball. And baseball. And worms. 

These were thoughts running through my head as I drove home from the Flynn show with foul-smelling Kai in the backseat. (Jules left with Jon - we'd come from our respective offices.) Kai and I were pointing out things we were seeing along the way and, as we passed Burlington High School with its football and baseball fields, I heard Kai say, "purple flowers." We had, after all, just passed a lilac tree.

Purple flowers? I repeated. 

No, no, he corrected me sweetly, amused by how far off my interpretation was. He repeated himself.

Purple flowers? I said again. (What didn't I understand about the double no?)

No, no, no. Now Kai was full-out giggling. He repeated the two words again, then added one more: Catch.

Football players?


Hmm... A sign? I'm projecting, huh?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day 159

Dear Kathie Mic,

It's Mother's Day and you're the best, so - in spirit of my recent theme* - allow me to list 10 things that make you an awesome mom, and awesome in general. 

*And also also due to the fact that live-wire boys pictured below are downstairs with Jon crushing a cardboard pirate ship (not really, Aunt Jen but the "waters" sound rough)... which makes writing eloquent paragraphs impossible. Fact is, I'm not really an elegant-paragraph writer anyway. 

Okay, here goes:

1. You taught me to always do my best, to be nice to everyone and that thank you notes are never optional. (Plus most other things behind my better qualities.)

2. When I was a little girl, you dressed me up in super-cute clothes (most of which you sewed yourself from the fabric of hand-me-downs) and styled my long light brown locks into elaborate braids. You never let me leave the house with rumpled hair, stained clothes or boogers on my face. My boys should be so lucky.

3. You showed me how to make meals delicious, nutritious foods, training me to love a wholesome healthy diet. Who would have known all those years that, if not for us, you might have been choosing a Snickers and Diet Coke for dinner? 

4. Then ... you selflessly chauffuered me around town - and the entire state of Ohio - for gymnastics and dance events. (Not to mention other school activities.) You did not complain about the enormous amounts of cash that these activities cost, even though money was (sometimes very) tight.

5. When I was a teen, you were strict enough to steer me away from really bad choices - but without squashing my spirit - which certainly is exasperating and at that time undoubtedly bitchy. 

6. When I left home, an adult, you treated me that way: supporting me when I needed it (remember the packing before my move to NYC, with the salad bowl on my head?) but never judged my choices. Even when those included buying a house with my boyfriend (gasp!) and canceling a "real" wedding in favor of a fourteen-person mountaintop ceremony. Of course these were not choices you raised me to make but rather than reminding me of that, you probably discussed them with Aunt Judy. (I hope I'll react the same way when Jules reveals his 20-something plans to me.)

7. All of those prom dresses you designed and sewed for me - and the Halloween costumes. Jules and Kai thank you too.

8. You taught me the value of cultivating a close, fun family - and creating long-standing traditions. In fact, you modeled the process.

9. You are so different from me, all of the best ways: for instance, you're an eternal optimist who doesn't sweat the small stuff,  who knows how to relax and loves basking in the sun and relishes sleep. 

10. [And this one comes from Julian, who has just joined me]: "Grandma Kath is fun, fun, fun. And she makes cool costumes." 

Happy Mother's Day! 

PS: Happy Mother's Day, too, to Mom O. (Grandma Val) and my Grandma Micco, to the other amazing women who've so incredibly impacted my life (most notably, my Grandma Mary, Aunt Judy and Kathi Halbert) and to my fantastic friends (some moms, some not) from whom I've gathered such wise wisdom about being a better parent. Oh, and to Jon, who made me a mom to the two awesomest little guys I know. Over and out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day 155


  1. I will speak softly. (OK, more softly.) I will not carry a big stick and I absolutely will not interrupt others.
  2. I will exercise. Even if it's just a walk at lunch.
  3. I will be a "yes, of course I can" kind of innovator. 
  4. I will conquer problems with super creative solutions.
  5. I will be patient.
  6. I will be kind. And thoughtful.
  7. I will be quiet. Sit still and focus.  
  8. I will pipe in Pandora Vivaldi to facilitate #7.
  9. I will read more of those papers on obesity so I can pass my pre-test. (And I will stop eating M&Ms while doing it. Even if they are in moderation. Even if they are "dark" chocolate. That term isn't really even defined, you know.)
  10. I will seize the day
How bout you? Tomorrow... 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 154

More than once, I've contemplated ditching this blog, as it seems that the time I waste spend writing it might be better applied to other things: working on stories someone actually pays me to write, for example... or reading journal articles I need to understand for an upcoming workshop. Chopping veggies for tomorrow's dinner. Sleeping. Plucking my eyebrows...

But recently it dawned on me that it's kind of cool to keep all of these thoughts in one place so that, someday, my boys might read them and realize that, in addition to being the lady who wiped their *sses, read them books, cut their mangoes 
(and hosted Mos Def dance parties in the kitchen), I, too, was/am a person. A woman with hopes, dreams, fears and a mostly irreverent sense of humor. That said, the mom in me can't help but to use this forum, on occasion, to impart important life lessons. 

Lessons such as this: don't jump on a moving treadmill. 

Which is just what I did today. Yes, I am fairly certain that the literature that comes free with every treadmill purchase tells you not to mount, or dismount, a treadmill in motion. Here's my secret: I do it all the time. Sometimes it's to tie my shoe... sometimes it's because I left the water bottle on the weight bench. Today it was to take off my pants. Let me explain: My legs were incredibly itchy (this sometimes happen when I don't run for a week or so - it's AWFUL) and I thought that removing my spandex-y capris might help. Note: I was alone in my basement. Another note: My cotton boy-short "underpants" (as we now call them 'round here) offered more coverage than the volleyball shorts my BFF from college had to wear on court.

Anyway... while I've never had a problem hopping on a belt moving along at 7.3 MPH, today was different. Today, I was distracted by my iPod. Today, I bit it, and the treadmill dragged me along, "road"-rashing my left knee (as seen in this photo above), my right knee (which you can't see) and a sizable patch of my right hip (also concealed). I am fine. Actually, I immediately got up and started running again. In my underwear. Then I realized absurdity of the situation and also that my legs were still incredibly itchy. I wrapped up the run. Two miles. 

So, my dear boys and kind readers, let this be a lesson to you: don't jump on a moving treadmill. Literally. But I think there's a bigger, metaphorical lesson here too: like don't get swept away on the treadmill of life. But wait: you don't want to let life pass you by. Hmm...  Maybe what I'm really trying to say is make this your motto. Or just keep your pants on.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day 152

Years ago, I assumed I'd never be the kind of person who'd succumb to "cliches" like obsessing over strands of grey and wrinkles or how swiftly little babes sprout into big boys. Now, I'm 36 with two kids--and genes that set me up for early greys, dark under-eye circles and ... nostalgia.

Today, I got a text from my friend: her "baby" turned two yesterday, three days after Kai's 2nd birthday, the same day my big guy turned four. She'd been weepy all weekend. Miraculously, I hadn't. Maybe because I'd been too busy moving. My mom came in on Monday; my sis and dad flew up on Friday, a few hours after I jetted down to NYC for the James Beard Awards. I returned Saturday morning in time for a fabulous fiesta to celebrate the boys' birthdays. We all spent today riding bikes and shooting hoops. I love my life right now--right now.

But I get teary all too often, thinking how quickly we seem to be creating new Shutterfly calenders with new pictures of the boys, who are taller and leaner in each version.

There's nothing I can do to stop time. Nothing anyone can do. 

But... we can try to soak up every moment. Or, as my new magenta bikini said to me, as she begged me to bring her home: "All we can do is rock the right now." 

The tankini in my drawer makes me feel frumpy. This color is hot. So, no, I don't have a supermodel shape and I do have cellulite. But my belly is fairly flat, even after two kids, and this swimsuit just felt right. Right now. And probably won't in a few years. So I bought it (breaking The Compact). More than a swimsuit, it offers a good reminder: Seize the day. Rock the right now. Love, live up every moment.

PS: I realize that this may seem like a very far-fetched way to justify a purchase but I'm serious... 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Day 151

Dear Jules,
Four years ago today, you surprised us nearly six weeks early: our woulda-been-Gemini Cinco de Mayo party boy.

You were born spicy - a huge part of what makes you so awesome (if sometimes exhausting). Here are 10 reasons why you rock my world right now (in no particular order):

1. Your curiosity. Like me and your dad, you are a natural-born nerd, always asking why why why, ...and that is so incredibly fun for me. Mostly.

2. The "go big or go home" way you phrase everything. (e.g. Mama, I love you very very very very very very much)

3. How you ask me to tell you a bedtime story and constantly edit the details.

4. Your perceptiveness and insane memory. You notice...everything. You're totally tuned in.

5. The way offer your little bro step-by-step instructions on how to do everything... And you've got helpful advice for everyone else too. It's the Olin in you and I love it.

6. That you know what you like (the colors pink and purple; "Sunny Days"; mangoes and grapes) and what you don't like (e.g. The fiesta shirt that is "too buttony, too flowery, too black and too big." For the record, it is brown.)

7. That you are "the kid who plays with everyone," according to your teachers. Embracing wide circles opens your world to a richer much more fun life, you know...

8. Your sweet big-kid gestures, including (but not limited to) cheek kisses, "have a good workday" wishes and joyful "you forgot I am a big boy" reminders.

9. Our shared loves: music, reading, dancing, baking, making art, performing, hanging with Ri, Grandma Kath and Aunt Kate.

10. Your inexhaustible energy and perpetual passion. Truly.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day 148

Dear Kai Guy,

You're two today and totally awesome. Know what I love about you right now? I'll tell you ten things:

1. Your self-awareness. I love that you know when you "need a hug" and "you're really, really tired." Stay that way, my little Buddha. It's good for you -- and everyone in your life.

2. The way you grab the top of my shirt (or anyone else's) like a Linus blanket and suck your thumb. Maybe this will become weird soon but right now it's adorable and sweet.

3. How you wave to passers-by, with your big dimpled smile, singing "hi" in your tiny little voice. Spreading joy is a nice thing and you're most always in a joyous mood, even the minute you wake up. Seriously, how?

Cheese! It's my birthday.

4. Your sweet dance moves: the shimmies and spins. Never lose your love of dance and music... please.

5. Your recent obsession with basketball. (And the fact that you keep saying, to anyone who will listen, "I hurt my knee playing basketball." You know you didn't - you're just parroting Uncle Manny.)

6. How much you admire and love your big bro: It's awesome to watch you cracking up over Jules's antics, to hear you echoing his every word, see you repeating his every move. (Though I admit that this last part is sometimes crazy-making.)

7. Your burgeoning independence. Climbing steps, getting dressed, opening doors - you want it to be "Kai's turn" every time. Love it. But you suck at brushing your teeth (as you should) so I'll keep fighting that battle, buddy.

8. The fact that you demand your three books before bed, no matter what. You always notice when I try to downscale the routine - and two books is simply unacceptable.

9. That Demps is your best bud. In a house full of chaos, you never forget to say good morning or good night to your furry big bro and you steal as many snuggles as you can get. Keep at it. Our sweet, sweet boy won't be around forever and I want to you imprint so many great memories of him that you'll never ever forget the special bond you had with your first diggity.

10. Your buttery Buddha belly. This my seem like a lame one to end on but, seriously, we see it so often, with you having wrap up your thumb to suck in the bottom of your shirt when someone else's is unavailable. And that tummy really is delicious.

PS: This list is just sampling of random reasons you make me melt, things I've noted recently and never want to forget. To come up with something comprehensive would be impossible (and so intimidating that I'd never be able to get started).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Day 147

Jon just did a big switch-over of the boys' clothes, and I was shocked that Kai has already grown into this outfit:

Kai: age 2 years - 1 day
I was also surprised, two years ago, when Julian was big enough to wear these sweet brown-and-turquois striped pants, a hand-me-down from my friend Stacy, who bought them for her boy Sawyer when she was in Spain. Sawyer is six-and-a-half now but I remember, clear as day, sitting across from Stacy at a faded cedar picnic table outside of our old office on Ferry Road, chatting after lunch. She was thrilled about her upcoming trip to Spain for a dear friend's wedding but - like most mamas of little ones - conflicted about being away from her guy, then just two, for a whole week. Of course, she had an awesome time and, apparently, came back with the pants. I learned of this purchase when she passed them to me two years later. 

Now, another plus-two years, Kai is the third blue-eyed boy to rock the Spanish pants.

... Nothing like a pair of tiny trousers to remind me it's been exactly 365 x 2 days + 1 (Leap Year!) since Jon and I were heading to the hospital with a bag packed with (mostly unnecessary stuff and) the tiny newborn sleeper we'd bring Kai home in. And since JuJu--exactly Kai's age now minus three days --would wake up a big brother and eat pancakes with Chris and Ri.