Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 265

Since I just spent the last hour sitting here watching video lectures about "gamification" and I want to read my book and I need to clean the kitchen and I guess, physiologically, I do require sleep (blah for that), I will limit my entries to captions. (I'm finding more and more that I'm NEEDING to blog to process my day to keep the "right" perspective.)

Anyway, what I must remember from today, in photos:

Photo #1: Two boys in a tub, "brushing" their teeth (plus my feet)
Important takeaways: Look at how cute they are. Remember this the two times tomorrow and the next day and the next when I am engaged in the teeth-brushing battles that drive me to drink. (I'm sort of serious.) 
Note: They're in the tub with their toothbrushes because this was my attempt tonight to make tooth-brushing more fun. Perhaps an indirect influence of all this talk about using fun and games to drive behavior change. 

Photo #2: Me, at work, listening to Pandora, wearing giant headphones
Important takeways: I am about 500% more productive with a soundtrack. Instagram filters are the best cure for bad skin. 

Photo #3: Lake Champlain, early morn
Important takeaways: I live in an absolutely breath-takingly beautiful place (even if I didn't really capture that at all in this sucky picture). Running first thing in the a.m. does wonders for my day. 

Photo #4: Sprinkles, with ice cream (Kai's)
Important takeaways: Seize the day. Summer's fading to fall, so get creemees while you can. And beware the crazy sprinkle lady. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 264

Today felt like fall. Which was just fine with me. While I must admit that I'm not looking forward to freezing my ass off here in Burlington, I do love breezy warm days when the sky is that unbelievable shade of blue (you know the one) and the clouds are just crazy. I dig sweaters and boots. I crave the fresh starts that so many "semesters" of school years have trained us to seek out right around Labor Day. (I felt this way last year too, see? By the way, that aesthetically awesome planner didn't work for me. I'm back to my much uglier Franklin Covey system. And, yes, I still use paper.) 

My new self-improvement initiatives for fall of 2012:

1. A regular running routine (that includes a 10K in Burlington on 9/23). I'm going try out this training schedule (likely, I'll try to merge the beginner and intermediate ones - and then skip some of the runs and ignore all of the cross-training prescriptions). 

2. Dance, dance, dancing. Tuesday night cabaret classes with Lois. Bonus: I have friends in the class (Emma, Kristen... others?).

3. This super-cool (and free!) Gamification class through Coursera. I'm a little nervous about the time commitment (there are quizzes, assignments and all the things you'd normally associate with a college course) - but it's related to my work... and it's cool and it's free. And given that I'm a huge nerd who would prefer to attend (interesting) lectures all day, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to dig the experience. And if I don't... well I'm losing... nothing. 

4. Better meal planning... with more fish and vegan dishes. 

5. More laughing. (And more cowbell.) 

That's all. I've already set more goals that I can accomplish. Gotta feed that chronic case of guilt somehow, I guess. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 263

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I struggle with the swift passage of time. That, despite the fact that Jules has been in daycare since he was four-months old (and Kai, part-time since he was 8 weeks old), the day next year when he leaves for kindergarten, I will weep. In fact, I may weep for a week (off and on). This sounds extreme, indeed, but if you know me, you know that I an extraordinary weeper. 

And if you don't know me, I'll paint you a picture: I cry when I'm sad, I cry when I'm angry, I cry when I'm happy. I sobbed through Julian's baby-room graduation video a few years ago and - yesterday - during much of this beautiful (hour-long) tribute to David Rakoff on This American Life. In the car. With my entire family. (Luckily the boys were sleeping - the whole scene would have been quite confusing for them, I suspect.) I tear up looking at pictures of friends with their grandmothers, old dogs with teeny babes, my brother and me when we were little kids. 

But today, on Facebook, I loved seeing the dozens of photos of kids heading off to school, some of them for the first time. (Don't get me wrong: many of these images - and the status updates of some of the parents who were struggling with transitions - tugged at my heart.) 

Jon and I tried to take our own pictures, today - of Jules heading off to his last year of preschool (his first day as a Zebra) and Kai who moved on up to the full-fledged toddler room (of "Dragonflies.")

This is the shot I got:


I tried again at school and got this photo: 

Made possible by bribery (getting to climb this tree in the morning) and my trusty assistant Tracy (below). No smiles - but, here we've got faces. 

Here's the thing: Life isn't picture perfect. And these photos make me laugh. But I wasn't laughing when I was taking these shots. I was genuinely annoyed. (I was even more genuinely annoyed when Jules refused to put away my laptop after dinner and slammed it on the kitchen table. I lost my shit.) 

I started this blog as a motivator to overcome my fears. But I keep writing it because it's serving as a sort of "lighten-up lens" for my life. Putting my day down the page gives me perspective.

Seeing things in print, I can see: Life is good. Very good. It's super-fun. I can so see that in retrospect, when I'm writing it and reading it. In the moment, though, I  have trouble succumbing to the fun, trouble recognizing when is the time to give in, to laugh with abandon, to stop directing and correcting. 

Do you know the secret to finding that balance? If so, please share.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 260

My run through Bessemer today jogged so many memories, which, I guess, makes sense: I ran the road that connects my parents' house to my granmother's. I rested on a rock at the quarry where I learned to swim. I paused at the run-down field where I cheered on PeeWee players and where, I hear, practices still take place.

Recently, my uncle told me that, years later, kids don't really remember the specific details of their day-to-day. Rather, they just gather a sense of the experiences overall. And maybe apply the feelings they had to photographs that actually captured moments of the moments.

So what then, 20 years from now, will my boys remember of this day? The one when Aunt Kate and her roommate hooked them up with field-level spots at Pirates batting practice and a suite for the game. The one where the whole fam rallied (Grandma and Papa, Uncle Ange and Aunt Casey, Mom, Dad, and Aunt Kate)... when it took an hour for our dinners to come out and everything was partly wrong... Of the game where there was cotton candy and... there was, randomly, in from Dallas...Dan Jay.

Dan Jay, our kid-hood comrade from two doors down, who is wrapped into just about every summer childhood memory of mine - from baseball games and lemonade stands to bike races and tiffs over GI Joe guys.

What, when they look back, will my boys remember? What do you remember?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 258

I have two nieces and two nephews (courtesy of Jon's sisters). They're awesome - and it makes me so happy to see the great relationships that my boys are developing with their Olin cousins. But all of those warm fuzzy feelings are rooted in the present... well, some, I guess, are prospective (I think of all of the fun times ahead for this next generation). Still, there's no mixed-in nostalgia, no mind-blowing memory-flooding of "holy shit... remember when 'they' were us, when we were those kids, hiding and chasing and role-playing and pinching and lobbying for 'the biggest cupcake'? "

But I totally get those powerful full-circle feelings when I'm with Mark and Jen, Vinny and Gianna... Mark is my "god-brother" (the son of my godparents "Aunt" Judy and "Uncle" Davy), my unofficial third sibling. No doubt, our kids - Mark and Jen's and mine and Jon's - Vinny (5, tomorrow), Jules (4), Gianna (3), and Kai (2) are "cousins." 

An today, it was utterly fantastic watch the four of them playing and hanging for hours and hours... like family.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 257

Today I took the boys to KDGC... The place where I spent more of my growing-up years than anywhere else, besides home.

The place where I learned to do handsprings and aerials and cast-handstands. Where I perfected my pirouettes, where I taught little girls to pliƩ and jete.

There, I learned that pushing myself made me strong and that friends are more important than trophies.

And there I met Kathi... An amazing woman and mama to three great boys/men who also - as a most incredible mentor - has turned out hundreds (thousands?) of strong, confident women.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 256

This girl... (the one on the right)

...Welcomed me with open arms to Hullings Hall in August of '94. She dyed my hair burgundy (you know, the trendy mid-90s hue). Repeatedly. In the closet (with the utility sink) across the hall from her room. She kept me company during many pizza and NIN-fueled all-night study sessions in the basement lounge. She always told me what I needed to hear, whether it was "you are awesome... truly" or "you are acting like a total asshole." And one can't forget how she scooted over and offered me half of her loft bed that time Brett gifted me a large family of crickets.

This married just a month before me. And attending her wedding was so important to me that I hopped a plane from Toronto to Cleveland, leaving Olin with the extended fam he'd not yet met and our rambunctious 10-month old Demps, who, as the story goes, stole an unsuspecting man's steak. Right off his plate. And then jumped into Aunt Cora's swimming pool for a post-dinner dip.

This the fantastic mom to two terrific boys...whom I met today. Finally. It was awesome.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 255

Before we got into the car this morning, the boys ate pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse, said good-bye to Papa Jon, Grandma Val, cousin Anna, Dad and Demps. When Ri rolled up in the Swagger Wagon, we hopped in. It was 8:30 a.m.

The day was gorgeous and the early part of ride was wrapped in Adirondacks... falcons soared, the sky was blue.

About an hour or so in "Kai throwed up." It was Cheerios induced and luckily we had a suitcase full of clean clothes and a fresh blanket. The incident occurred right at a spot where - serendipitously - there was a pull-off (with picnic tables, even!) along the highway. Luck was on our side.

I drove till lunch, easily - a notable feat ... highway driving makes my heart flutter, my jaw tense. After PB&J sandwiches, Ri's deconstructed Edible Arrangments birthday treat and chocolate milk, we piled back in. Ri took the wheel. The boys fell asleep and I tuned the XM to Lil' Wayne. 

We dropped off Ri somewhere near Northeast, a land full of "wine trees." (Seriously, that's what I called the grape vines today. Not for fun. Because that's how my brain was registering them. Sometimes I worry about my brain.) Memories came flooding back - a visit to these shores of Lake Erie with my admissions-office friends, the summer I was 19 ... the one I first felt like an adult.

I drove down 79, the familiar highway stretch - traveled often during my Allegheny days. Then onto 80 West for that short connection... so short I missed my usual exit... and started to worry. At the peak of my panic, Kai started freaking for me to take off his shoe. That was impossible with all of the big trucks and the long Swagger-Wagon stretch between the driver's seat and the bucket seat behind. I kept my eyes on the road and my hands on the wheel. Kai kept up a steady wail, while Jules told him to shush. A doe appeared at the edge of the trees and my heart leap into my throat. She paused, we passed. Big exhale. 

And then... a promising exit that wound round to another familiar stretch. Ultimately the roads spit us out right by the driver's testing facility where, 20 years ago, they gave me my first driver's license... which I'm not sure I actually earned, just driving around that small circle and pulling up beside the curb.

We arrived "home" at just after 7. And all of those hours in the car... they were worth it. 

For reasons like this: 

And this: 

Plus more fun to come... 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 254

Cousins. Watching my boys loving the time with theirs so much makes me remember all of the fun memories I've made with mine. Cousins offer adventures and insights you just don't get at home. Because they are insiders...Who live on the outside. It's a beautiful thing, really.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 252

Last night - over pizza at Chris and Ri's - this what is I promised: I would wake up SUPER early. Then I would wake Julian up. The two of us would drive to YaYa's (Yaya = Ri). And we three - Jules, Ri and I - would go for a hike in the woods. We would find the owl. Then we would have breakfast together. THEN we would go get Kai and go to school. I also secretly planned that when I got home, I would make a bunch of delish muffins that we could eat for breakfast. I would also bring over a special iced latte. "Tomorrow" (today) was YaYa's birthday.

But this is what happened: after pizza, Jon went back to work and I put the boys to bed. Then I put on my pajamas (leaving in my contacts and - randomly - my dangly gold earrings). I sat down on the couch with a magazine. And promptly fell asleep. Around 9:45, I think. Hours later, Jon got home and tried to get me to come to bed. I didn't budge... until Jon brought Kai down at 6:45 - three-quarters of an hour after Jules and I were scheduled to depart. 

There wasn't time to do the plan. I broke the news to Jules when I woke him up. He was devastated. 

I promised. 

It's true. I promised. So I skipped a shower and pulled on my clothes while Jon dressed the boys. I ran outside and cut some flowers - a bunch for Jules, a bunch for Kai - while Jon brushed the boys' teeth. Jules, Kai and I raced out the door. 

It wasn't a long walk. (Aside: Jules told us that it wasn't a walk in the woods at all because we were turning around. I started to protest and then he explained "we didn't do a loop." I'm not a fan of out-and-back running races so the kid had a point. Ri suggested a turn that led us through the trees. It worked: It instantly met all of the criteria for walk in the woods. 

And we didn't see the owl. We didn't sit around eating Happy Birthday muffins. 

But breaking out of my usual rushed morning routine to take two little boys to bring bright yellow bouquets to one of their favorite people in the world was just the start I needed today. Happy Birthday, YaYa - and thanks, Ri, for always making my days brighter.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 250

Here's what I haven't been doing: sleeping enough, exercising (at all save for one 4-mile walk/run last Friday), resisting too much wine and chocolate. 

Here's what I have been doing: bursting into tears over stupid things, getting snippy with Jon and co-workers who, like me, are just trying to make do in stressful situations. (Re: co-workers, you know who you are and I said it before but I'll say it again: I'm sorry. And, seriously, I was only deep breathing to clear my head, not exasperatedly sighing at you. Pinky swear.) 

Here's the bottom line: Life is short (see below). I so know this. I mean, look at the dark circles and wrinkles around my eyes. I'm not so young any more. I also know that it's my job to figure out how to put a cap on the chaos, to find the fun, to learn when and how to say no (I am infinitely - yes, infinitely - grateful to those of you who helped on that front today) and when to say yes... (e.g., to dance-party requests from the boys, to signing up for this Cabaret Jazz class with Lois after a five-year hiatus)! 

To that effect - making the most of this life - there's a lot of great advice on the poster behind me in the photo below. And while we're on the topic of life mottos and manifestos: 1) my friend at work and I are working on an awesome one ourselves 2) I am so in love with this print. 

But, tell me: How do you do it? How do you make the most of your every day?

If you've been to my house, you know that this overly dramatic self-portrait
was taken in my bathroom (lame cliche, yes). I snapped it while Jules was singing
equally dramatic songs in an empty (already drained) tub. He appreciated the extra minutes. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 249

Packing ins't my forte. In fact, I suck at packing. Here's a typical situation--for a weekend trip: I'll spend hours the night before, trying to locate where favorite pieces of clothing are. Then I'll start washing them. And drying. And folding. Then I'll agonize over what I'm bringing and not bringing. When I finally get everything packed - except my contacts and makeup and toothbrush stuff, which I'll pack in the morning - it's 1:30 a.m. At this point, my contacts and makeup and toothbrush and stuff are pretty much as they are all of the rest of the days, all around the bathroom. Jon's toiletries, on the other hand, are lined up neatly on the side of the sink, so that he can just work his way down the line - rinse, brush, zip - go.

Curiously, becoming a better perfect packer is something I'm constantly striving toward. So I seek out those "what to pack" magazine stories like this recent one in More magazine. Features like these offer great advice: tips like pack stuff that's all in the same color palette.. bring only three pairs of shoes (do running shoes count?)... plan to wear your tank top three times (clearly the writer of such advice doesn't sweat like I do). I plan to follow it--and then I say "F&*k it! I'm driving this time... I've got room for shoes."

Now I pack for 3 Jules and Kai. You'd think I'd delegate this task to Jon but no.
I am not only a bad packer. I am also a control freak. 

No more... I want to be a minimalist packer. But I want to know JUST what to bring. I want a simple list - one that outlines everything I need to bring. Exactly what I need to bring. Like the kind of list you get before you go to camp. A list that's as simply instructive as Joan Didion's packing list--which I discovered on a blog (when Joan Didion posted it on Facebook). It's awesome.

I'm heading to PA for a week (next week)... I'll be hanging out with family, playing with kids, taking long walks in parks and in Pittsburgh, swimming, going to a baseball game. So help me out: what exactly should I pack? 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 248

I love our new purple room. And the fact that it now houses the drums. (Thanks, Grayson, for prompting the move.) We're using them from dawn to dusk.

I am so tired my brain hurts. And I'm just sitting down to work for a minute. The minute after I write this post. Um... probably not a "good choice" as we say 'round here.

Anxious about a busy week... (How do you combat Sunday-night blues?

Looking forward to seeing family...

That's all. On to regularly scheduled editing. 

PS: The new color on the walls is called "Naturally Calm." I think I'm going to go sit in there.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 247

"Is it the weekend yet?" In the last half-year or so, Jules has been trying to wrap his head around the days of the week, what they mean.* It's taken a while for him to grasp the idea that, on Friday, the answer about whether it's the weekend or not is half-yes. And half-no. 

((Tangentially related side note: When I ask Kai, "when did you become such a big boy?" he answers without hesitation, "Tuesdays." Not Tuesday. Tuesdays. Plural. Every time. And every time, it cracks me up.))

But the answer to Julian's "weekend?" question becomes a solid yes at about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday. And more often than not, "weekend" Jonic-style kicks off in the kitchen, where we make pancakes while Vivaldi, or Miles Davis or Vampire Weekend plays on the under-the-cabinet Sony CD player that I pretty much consider one of my best purchases ever (you can plug an iPod into it too).

Jules does much of the pancake making now - which goes well until Kai
attempts to act as the sous sous chef.

The specific sort of pancakes we make varies depending on whether Jon or I is executive-cheffing (today it was me ... Jon had a bonfire/movie night/sleepover with a bunch of this friends). When I'm in charge, I use this recipe, which is my (healthified) variation of one in the 1975 edition Joy of Cooking, a 36th birthday gift from Kate.

Here it is: 
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

2 cups of buttermilk (I usually end up making it by mixing 2 TBSP lemon juice into 2 cups of 1% milk because I always forget to buy buttermilk. This should be your first step as you need to let it sit for 10 minutes or so.)
1 egg
2 TBSP canola oil
2 TBSP honey (I always measure the oil first. It lubes the measuring spoon so the honey slips right off)

I mix the dry ingredients. Beat together the wet ingredients. Combine, then cook them up on the griddle. I serve them with Vermont maple syrup and fruit. Today, it was strawberries and cantaloupe.

Note: This batter is thin - not great for holding the Mickey Mouse shapes that Julian always requests - but no one seems to mind. Today, Jules declared these pancakes his favorite in the whole world. Win.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 244

Today, one of my colleagues mentioned that her son is heading off to college this Sunday. My heart hurt for her. Of COURSE, I want my boys to move along - boldly - when that time comes. In the mean time, here's what I'm hoping I can help them grow to know: 

1. Everyone is just as important as you are. You are just as important as everyone else. Most people are fascinating. In a social situation, ask lots of questions as long as the answers are flowing freely, with enthusiasm. And when someone starts squirming, stop interrogating them. (Then apologize, tell them you're a journalist and you just can't turn off. This has worked for me.)

2. Don't fight so hard. Humor is the best way to deflect tension. Going for a run works too. (I'm hoping that I will learn these things in the next 14 or so years too.) 

3. You should follow your dreams and be what you want. (Um, even if that means dressing up as Mickey Mouse for Halloween. Seriously, Jules? Mickey Mouse sucks. I say this here only because you can't read yet. To thine own self be true. )

4. Speak your mind-but it's rude to interrupt others. And if you can't stop - it's in your DNA, you're half Italian and grew up with loud, interrupting parents after all - explain to new peeps that you're fighting hard against this tendency but losing the battle. Ask them to interrupt you back. 

5. Yes, you can run that marathon. You can study animals in Africa for a living. Or pursue a professional music career. But you'll have to work hard. And you'll give up other stuff. Hmm... I think this is a rep of #2. 

6. How to make whip together a salad with whatever you have on hand, bake an enviable apple pie and simmer up a mean curry. Everyone loves a good cook. You should know how to make meals. Simple delicious meals from real ingredients. Maybe even ones that you grow yourself.

That's all for now. And this list is by no means comprehensive. Or prioritized. But it is important.

Day 243

I got a handful of compliments on this dress today: 

Here are its secrets:
I bought it for $7 on the sale rack at TJ Maxx. When I was 7 months pregnant. And then proceeded to wear it at least twice a week during weeks 36 to 40 of my pregnancy. At the time, my big belly filled out the drop waist, the fabric of which now drapes nicely the way it was intended to hang. The top is a little too big. Unless I wear the dress backwards. Then, it's just right. #reinventyourcloset #lovewhatyouhave

And... today, I am grateful for my date with Mike B. and Kristen, and also the fine folks who took the stage at the Anecdote Storytelling event tonight (so many cool and creative peeps in Burlington!), to Jon for making sure I could get there and for the two little boys who gave me giant hugs on my way out. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 242

As I've mentioned before, Jon and I sort of committed to not buying anything new for a year. This was back in March... and it was prompted by friends who'd heard about various groups of people following The Compact - which, essentially, is a social movement to reduce crazy consumption, cut clutter and waste and simplify our surroundings. They suggested that we might all do the same. There was talk of eliminating paper towels, of making laundry soap. Jon and I decided we were in - but would have quite a few "exceptions." For instance, we'd aim to use fewer paper towels - and use cloth napkins at meals - but not do away with them all together. The Jonic campaign was a sort of a Compact Lite. But we'd try really hard to not buy any new "things." For a year. Until March 2013. 

My friends are doing quite well on this Compact - least I think so. Jon actually is rocking it. I, on the other hand, am a frequent violator - with confessional tendencies (no surprise, what with my Catholic upbringing). But I want to start afresh... and I'm compelled to first list my trespasses. Here goes: 

In the last few months, I have "illegally" purchased the following: 
1. Bright orange patent leather heels (Lame justification: a story I edited was nominated for a James Beard award and I was sprucing up a practical black dress; update as of today, the shoes are a half size too small - my penance, I guess.)

2. A magenta bikini (Lame justification: When you find a swimsuit that makes you feel good, you BUY IT.)

3. Several super-on-sale pieces of clothing at Old Navy, which is a huge violation of The Compact b/c I have loads of casual clothes and the point is to buy fewer quality pieces... starting next March. (Lame justification: They were SO cheap.)

4. These "tuscan grape" flats from J. Crew. (Lame justification: I got a new job + I am WEAK.)

5. Various trash magazines. (Lame justification: I need to know what's going on in the world.)

6. Several pieces of furniture we didn't need  AT ALL from Ikea. Like, literally, we went in and bought up everything in a "living room" display: two bookcases, one to be used for toys, one for books - and a connecting desk. We have a desk. A great solid-wood desk - which I found for, I think, $60 or so at Recycle North and Jon restained for our 6th anniversary. Or fifth?  So yesterday, we marched right back to Montreal (okay, we drove in a car, with the kids) and returned the stuff. Sort of: We traded one (pine) bookcase in for a glossy white one - and returned the other bookcase and the desk thingie. Then we came home and painted our purple room a paler shade of purple (called "Naturally Calm"). Tonight, we moved the "old" desk against it, pushed in the mod green chair (also sorced from Recycle North) whose arms I painted black 7 or so years ago, and switched on the (yup! Recycle North) lamp. Perfect. See? 

No, the room is not done - and part of what I'm loving about it so far is the lack of clutter. Simplifying a space doesn't come naturally to me but I'm trying. I just offed a futon on Craig's List and there's more where that came from (um, my messy house). It's all part of another campaign: Purge and Enhance. Yes, this sounds gross. But tell me: Do you need floor lamps for a college dorm? (You know the ones) A small glass table and four chairs? Some new (to-you) novels or cookbooks? Worn-ish towels for the dogs that you rescue? Ping me. 

Note: On our Compact, clothes for the kids are legal, though we buy most at Once Upon a Child. As are gifts, particularly those made by locally... and for those we love Danmade, New Duds and The Syrup Shop.

Another note: The Compact has kept me from buying a lot of unnecessary things: several pairs of shoes, lots of cheap lipsticks (which end up strewn about the house and in various bags), some magazines, lots of random shit at Ikea, etc. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 237

Today was a bit of shit-show. All-around. This photo will help to set the scene:

That white "sled" (as identified by Julian) is paper from the art easel. And when the rides were over, the boys ripped it all up and made snow. Then they chased each other around the house screaming. I'm all for fun and games but someone was about to get hurt and the bathwater was getting cold. I'd try to corner and reason with one guy - he'd run away -  then the other (the littler, less steady one) would be halfway up the stairs, demanding supervision. It was like herding cats. (Cliches exist for a reason, people.) Meanwhile, the real cats - or one of them, at least, was busy barfing up a leaf she'd eaten. Awesome. 

Here's the other thing: the spirit of this evening reflected, pretty much exactly, the goings-on of my work day. (I did not, however, snap any photos of that.)

But this post is not to complain about my day. In fact, I found it pretty amusing for most of the time it was going on. And just when I started to get a little irked and panicked that the boys would still be bouncing off the walls come midnight, I somehow convinced Jules that recycling all of the snow was the most fantastically fun game EVER. He listened. And mini-J Kai followed right behind. Semi-calm ensued. 

And then there's this: Tonight, the comedy and cuteness overshadowed the chaos. 

Two Julian gems: 

1. On the ride home from school... Julian requested lentils for dinner. "I love them because they're Maite's favorite snack," he explained. (Maite is Jules's BFF who moved back to Italy a few months ago.) "Sure, we can make lentils, I told him." (Later, we did and he ate a big bowl. Plain and unseasoned.) "And what's your favorite snack, Jules?" Without a pause he answered: "Candy." Um... what can I say? The kid likes candy. And lentils. 

2. Before the paper pull, while we're upstairs in Kai's room... Jules takes out the The Carrot Seed (which used to belong to Sophia - thanks, Lisa P!) and starts "reading" to Kai. He begins, "Harold plants a carrot seed." The boy in the book does not have a name. The boy in the book, however, was drawn by Crockett Johnson, best known for Harold and the Purple Crayon, which we read a LOT 'round here. This made me smile really big. 

P.P.S: The Carrot Seed, written in 1945, is all about the power of positive thinking when everyone around you is a super-annoying naysayer. I'm buying it - in baby board book form, no less - for any friend on the cusp of taking a chance on something great when everyone else is saying, "don't do it - it'll never work." Let me know if you need one. xoxo