Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thinking outside the box that is this house

Seriously, I am the laziest women in the world.

That is so not true, but that's how I feel. Today, for the second day in a row, we didn't go on a marathon walk, out for a big adventure or on a series of errands, each more thrilling than the next. Instead, we stayed inside.

The guilt this is causing me is inexplicable. It's not like we sat around playing on the computer and watching soap operas (OK, we did a little of that), but I vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom, got dinner prepped and did laundry. And nobody cares what I do. The girls don't care. Steve doesn't care. The girl from the gym, the guy down the street, the gas station clerk, the minivan driving moms, the list goes on. They don't care.

So why do I?

It's a little secret I have. It's actually easier to be out than to be at home. There's always stuff do get done at home. The girls need more entertainment. I have things to do there.

Outside, on walks or at the park, the only thing to do is walk.

Just a bit ago, Carolyn took a toy from Penny that I made her give back (it's part of the fun "mine" stage) and Carolyn, out of frustration, tried to gouge out Penny's eyes.

This would never have happened out. If Penny had been rendered blind, it would have been my fault for staying inside today.

If that isn't the quintessential Catholic guilt, I'm not sure what it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It's what's for dinner

Liver and onions.

Last night, I was telling Steve my mom used to make this about once a week. I can't think of a dish I hate more (sorry mom) with all its livery nastiness.

And then Steve tells me, it's what his family used to feed their dog.

Hmmm. I'm not sure if I was severely neglected or his family dog was severely spoiled. I'll let you decide.

Anybody else remember this dish, drenched in yellow mustard?

Monday, June 26, 2006

I've lost that working feeling

So it's happened. I've become all housewife.

Today, I found myself procrastinating (former entry said procreating. How Freudian is that?)any effort to work on my new projects, my resume, and YES, even my blog, by washing windows. I also cleaned the stove, did laundry including curtains which are hanging on the line, got the kids ready, washed the screens and a bunch of other stuff to keep from working on this computer.

It's been such a fast transition I honestly didn't see it coming. I thought my life as a super housewife was only temporary, but I guess that was just a little lie I told myself to keep from quietly running away in the middle of the night.

"Where are you going?" Steve might ask.

"Out for a pack of smokes."

"OK. But you don't smoke."

"Oh. They're for the kids."

Off to north I'd run, mourning my lost family, who quickly replaced me with a less neurotic mom.

I’d move to the UP (upper peninsula of Michigan, for you non-Great Lakes State folks) and buy a tiny cabin on the edge of some immense forest. There, I'd chop my own wood, kill my own chickens and drink whiskey every night to help me forget. Never again would I leave the UP and I'd spend my days sadly shoveling snow and reading romance novels.

It seems my fantasies are sadder than my real life. I guess I'll just stick with it. Besides, who other than me in this family would ever clean the windows?

On a happier, and less creepy, note, it seems the sale of our house is on the horizon. It also appears that I don't have to attend the signing, so I won't. It's both happy and sad, because I was looking for an excuse to break up the monotony of our lives, but going for no reason seems, at the least silly, and at the most mind-numbingly exhausting, not to mention expensive. So I'll stay in Normal and keep busy by walking here and there, and nowhere in particular.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I love new jammies

My mom sent the girls new pajamas today. We got them early but opened the package at bedtime so they could put them on as soon as we opened it.

I love new clothes. I am an excellent cook but a horrible laundress. I have stains on every item of clothing I own, so you can only imagine what the girls, who have always eaten with reckless abandon and played nearly that ferociously, have to wear out in public.

Stains, for us, are just a way of life.

Pajamas are the worst because we eat breakfast in them and grape jelly is forever. And jammies are so nice and soft and cottony when they're new.

Here are two pictures. Carolyn wasn't being very photogenic, but Penny sure was. Check out that smile.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Maybe I should shake things up a little

Seriously, I want to know how this girl got my life.

She and her husband and her kid lives in D.C. (probably in a crappy studio a half block from a decent takeout restaurant) with her fun friends, her drunken adventures and her position as tsar of the mom blogs. The day she writes about her son's addiction to Elmo, I'm writing about my hatred for Caillou. She's funny, but let's face it, she's no Iwan. Nobody can out self-deprecate me. Nobody.

Maybe she's super hot. Or more likely, she's not afraid of other people.

Whatever. These days aren't so bad really. I just got a ton of freelance assignments from the local magazines, including TC Style, which is glossy and super pretty and will feature my snapshot and bio. I'm up for suggestions on how to describe myself because I'm pretty sure the readers of this magazine aren't interested in my blog, my stroller or the parks within one square mile of my house, the only things I devote any time to.

The day I got the assignment, I also got a bill for car repairs for the exact amount I’ll make.

But really, who needs a new haircut when you don’t even get out of your pajamas until, um, 12:55.

I knew there was a reason I’m not blog queen.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Summer fun

Today is the first day of summer.

Hooray. There’s all kinds of fun stuff to do in the summer.

Take today, for instance. It’s been jam packed and it’s only 1 p.m.

My summer started out at the gym for yoga class. Only my awesome, kick ass, amazing yoga instructor was out, replaced by kick-boxing energy girl who could only teach pilates.

Oh…My….. God…. Every muscle in my body is shaking with fatigue. This is completely true, and hard to believe, but I’m having trouble typing this. I’ll be lucky if I can walk tomorrow.

Oh yoga girl. Come back soon.

Next, the girls and I went downtown for the Bloomington concert series. We brought sandwiches and met Steve down there. Carolyn loves live music. Bless her, she’s not the most coordinated of people, and dancing often results in a car wreck of sorts, but she gives it her all.

There was an incredibly awful group down there today. Three old people and a midi machine.

They “allowed” the kids to come down and sing “Take me out to the ballgame” and then sent them back to their parents to “behave.” I hate to tell him, but none of the three or four dozen moms was there to listen to his crappy music. They were there to let the kids run around, eat lunch and talk to other moms.

Nothing worse for a band then people having a good time. How dare they.

We could only stay about 45 minutes because these lunchtime things always happen smack in the middle of nap time. And Carolyn’s nap isn’t something I’m willing to sacrifice. But I was forced to listen to her scream “downtown” for the entire ride home, which is something I could have done without.

I think I told her we’d go downtown (Normal this time) after her nap. I just hope my wobbly legs will take me that far.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My colorful kids

Here are the colors of my summer. No, Penelope did not eat a rare steak or get turned into a vampire. That lovely color comes from beets, which have a sweetness few veggies possess. But that color probably keeps them out of commercial production.

That and most adults I know hate beets. It must remind them of communism or something.

And then we have Carolyn, master painter. I took a wardrobe box from our move, painted it white and now it's her first major artist expression. She'll stay inside that silly box for almost an hour coloring with markers. I have to remember to buy some of the washable variety.

Red marker. Pretty on paper. Not pretty on face and arms and legs and belly.


This video is strictly grandma material. It'll bore the pants off most casual iwanagain readers.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Today is hot, hot, hot

Ever wonder what a hungry 2-year-old looks like after a one-mile walk in 90 degree heat? Well, here you go:

Today we walked to Fell Park after Penny slept too late to go to the gym. There was some sort of crazy play group there. Every mother must have had no less than four children. I wouldn't know the specifics because they didn't talk to me. Here's my best guesses of why:

1) They're all married to the same Mormon man and didn't like the looks of their new competition.

2) I walked to the park so they thought I was endangering the lives of my children by not taking the minivan.

3) I was just too darn groovy for them.

I know. You're thinking, "Hey Chris, former newspaper reporter who talked to strangers for a living, why not use those recently latent skills and spark up your own conversation?"

Good question. But, as you might know, I'm horrible at coming up with things to talk about with other housewives. (How's this for an opener; Hey, did you see the story on the front page of today's paper about the stalker cop? His lawyer swears he's not a serial rapist.) And this group, six mothers with 25 kids, was just the smallest bit intimidating.

Anyhow, I think we'll stay home today. I filled the kiddie pool, the hammock's hung and we've got enough food for one more dinner.

Ooh, gotta go. My shows are on.

Sister, sister

People are always asking me how Penny is different from Carolyn. Maybe I have the shortest long-term memory in history, but they're not different at all. They are both really laid back, both smiley, both great eaters. And, their physical development is nearly identical.

I bring this up because I was musing the other day about which one would be the beauty queen. Which the scientist. Which the athlete. Steve pointed out that only TV sisters were exact opposites.

I thought about this and it's true. Real life siblings are generally more similar than they are different, especially when they're very close in age. I thought of a bunch of people I know, and famous people, and this seems to hold true most of the time.

Who knew?

Here's one difference (see below) — Carolyn is way taller than Penelope. Oh, and Penelope has some weird 80s thing going on with her hair.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Catch ya on the flip side BC

Well Battle Creek. This is it. We are no longer affiliated.

The house has been sold. The woman buying it wants it quickly (fine by me) so she has requested no inspection and we can close in about two weeks.

Sort of sad really, in an extremely relieving kind of way. And what a relief (whew. wiping brow dramatically). I thought for sure I’d have to become a slum lord, and I’m just no good at screwing people out of money and happiness.

Speaking of not screwing people, here’s the awesomest Web site I’ve seen in a long, long time. Pandora lets you put in your favorite band or song in the system and plays music it thinks you might like. You can give any song a thumbs up or down to improve the selection. It’s like a commercial-free radio station that always plays the music you like. And bonus -— it’s totally free.

I just hook it up to my speakers and jam the day away. If mama ain't jammin', ain't nobody jammin'.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Good news

So a few posts ago, I say this family needs something great to happen. And so it came to pass....


All told, we still lose our shirts on the deal and have to forgo any gifts or vacations for the next five years, but no more house.

And when I see it written like that, I can't help but be thrilled.

I also got an e-mail today from the Newcomers Group, the one I told the recruiting director I'd join and later decided not to join, but never e-mailed her to let her know, as is my style. So now I'm faced with whether to ignore the e-mail, and risk the awkward encounter that's sure to follow at some playground, someday. Or, I could e-mail back and tell her thanks, but I just got a book deal and I don't have time for your silly group. Or, I join, because I don't have any friends, any prospect of friends or any skills to acquire friends and this is probably my only shot until I one day get a job.

It's all so complicated, I think I'll just not think about it right now.

Instead, I think about my fake book deal and how my interview on the Today Show will go.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Nothing cheers up a baby like 19th century poetry

It seems as though Penelope has developed separation anxiety. Oh woe is me. That means the gym, my favorite place to go for an hour of girl-free television time, will be a little limited, due to Penny’s screams in the daycare area.

I’m trying to get Penny to really understand the first lines of the Ella Wheeler Wilcox poem, “Solitude.”

Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and….

(the world continues laughing, so you weep louder to get a little attention and the world stops laughing long enough to turn its gaze to you, see you weeping and resume laughing, only this time at you, so you drop your head and lower your cries to a mere whimper until the world goes back to laughing at its own thing and you realize it’s true —)

… you weep alone.

A good lesson for everyone, not just babies.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Waiting to exhale, and maybe sleep

Man, do I feel blah.

Not to complain, or to complain too much, but these girls have given me a full week of love. A full week in that they conferred, in what I’ll assume was a secret, possibly illegal, meeting, and decided it was best if one of them was awake with me at all times.

Now, this gesture was probably done out of love, but it has left little time for sleeping. My time away from the girls this week consisted of a trip to the grocery store. And while I appreciate buying pork loin without worrying that Carolyn will take a giant bite from it while I’m not looking, it’s certainly not cocktails with the girls, or shoe shopping, or a day at the beach.

How I would love a day at the beach.

What this family needs is a plan of action. Something to look forward to, besides 8 p.m. when both girls are in bed. Maybe a trip or a project or something.

Some news to brighten our Normal lives.

Maybe it’s a surprise that’s coming next week. Hmmm. Cross your fingers for sweepstakes winner, or even better, an offer on our house.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Back to the empty potty training drawing board

I'll keep this pretty short because I'm in a very foul mood. Not your fault, faithful reader, but I lash out when I'm grumpy.

Here's one for the "Holy Shit" category, literally. I took Carolyn to the water park this afternoon. Only 10 minutes into fun, fun, fun playtime, she take a big poop in her bathing suit. (Do you ever notice you call it a bathing suit or swimsuit, but you never call it a swimming suit, which is what it is. Hmmmm.)

I thought we were way beyond a big poop in front of a bunch of kids at a park. Even last summer I never put her in diapers when she wore her swimsuit and she never did this. Never.

I guess we're not as close as we think we are.

I can only hope it came on so quickly, and she was having so much fun from our new favorite park, that it just happened.

Well, at least we weren't at the pool. That would have been so much worse.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Oh cruel mom

Look what she did to me??!! My beautiful, crazy hair, tied into unnatural pigtails.

Really, she just couldn't help herself.

And by the way, hips are fine. Carolyn and Penelope Gardner, Olympic beach volleyball champs, all thanks to mom and dad and never giving up on the inconvienent brace. So what if we didn't have a bath before we were 5 months old, we're all fixed now.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The mad rantings of a crazy women

When life throws me lemons, I cut them open, eat their sour middles, grimace at their almost unbearable puckerage and lay in bed for hours obsessing about how I didn’t make lemonade, but really, I was out of sugar.

I don’t take rejection well. And truth be told, I haven’t had a lot of it to contend with, thank God. This freelance career move might not have been the best for my sanity.

The thing is, and I won’t mince words here, I like to write and I often like what I write. Even as I write these words I’m thinking, “God! What an egomaniac.” I’m also thinking, “Hey. Can’t the girl feel proud of something without you jumping down her throat.”

I think I might have come upon my problem. I’m crazy.

In the last couple of days, I’ve had some success and some minor, and I’m talking minuscule, disappointments. I feel like every nerve ending in my body just had a Starbucks espresso. And I have to wonder, am I cut out for this? A lifetime of uncertainty and, at times, certain rejection.

I think I’ll have a hot bath, a crossword puzzle and sleep on it. After all, writing is the only thing I’m qualified to do, so I might as well do it.

After all, I can make lemonade whenever. I can only write until arthritis kicks in.

For all of you here to hear about the girls, which is probably all of you, Penny had her 6-month checkup and is doing great. She’s still at over the 100th percentile in weight and height. Steve and I get all worked up at thoughts of pro-athlete sisters. Steve loves to imagine how the girls will tower over me. How funny will he think it is when they tower over him?

Tomorrow, Penny gets her hips X-rayed to see if the brace fixed the dysplacia. More updates to follow.

Also, and this is kind of funny, Penny hardly cried at all over her shots today. And she hardly cried at 2 months, although she bawled at 4 months. The difference? Steve was there at 4 months. Turns out, he’s so torn up over the girls’ pain that his stress gets projected to them. Just my theory, although I'm hardly ever wrong.

I think it’s awesome he cares that much. What’s more worrisome is my lack of empathy. One more for the “Bad Mommy” file.

I'll just suck on these lemons until I fall asleep.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Potty training as an in-exact science

Carolyn is getting a little better about the potty training every day. It's so dumb, but I find myself incredibly excited by the whole process. Well, maybe not the whole process.

So this morning, the fam, including Fife, take a walk to the closest park. Maybe three out of four times, there's nobody there. Today, there are two kids not too far from Carolyn's age are playing there. We're playing and having a great old time.

The kids' grandma, who must have noticed the lack of bulge in the backside, asks me, "Is she potty trained?" I hear a little awe, or maybe its skepticism, in her voice.

Well, I say, she's getting there and we had a great morning. And this was so true.

But not 30 seconds after bragging about my super child, Carolyn squats down and pees. Aggg. Not such a great morning after all, grandma observes.

Uh. Hmmm. What's the etiquette on pee-soaked playground rocks? It's probably not to flee quickly and quietly, the way we did.

Thing is, Carolyn sees Fife pee outside all the time and that's totally cool. When she does it, she gives herself a little standing ovation.

Well, back to the drawing board. And I had already figured out a way to blow the $10 a week I spend on her diapers. I guess I'll just buy shoes next year.

Here's what we'll be doing this summer

A few days ago my neighbor told me that a couple of the area's public parks have water play areas. Our family decided to check out the Tipton Trails park yesterday and, I am not exaggerating, it was the most fun Carolyn has ever had. Ever.

Some of you might remember some video footage or Carolyn in Chicago last year at a water play area. She kind of stood there. Kind of smiled. Kind of looked confused.

Well boy, she's 2 and thing have changed. There's nothing uncertain about her relationship with water. Love. She was standing there shivering, lips blue, pleading with us to not leave. It might be stronger than her feelings (which I hope to be temporary) for Caillou.

And great for Steve and I and our padlocked wallets, it's totally free!

Only downside? Well. These newfangled subdivision parks with their fancy contraptions are brand-spankin' new, so there isn't a tree within three miles that taller than three feet.

Our most recent favorite thing is to walk to Fell Park, which is about a half mile into an older neighborhood. It's completely shaded during the walk, there are nice big trees to sit under for our newest sitter-upper, Penny....

...and the playground is 100 percent 2-year-old friendly.

But no water. Oh well. That can be remedied with a super-soaker water gun, two juice boxes and the hottest of days when my non-sunburned children have fun with just mom.

Who am I kidding. It's love and there's nothing I can do about it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Thursday blues

My friend Dana sent me a bunch of great pictures from the Greene's baby shower. Since my self-deprecation is reading more sad than funny today, I'll stick with the family photo.

Maybe something hilarious will happen tomorrow.