Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Clean Slate

So I guess this is it, 2008. You've been a good year. Because I felt so accomplished and healthy this year, and because I need things to think about while I run, I've been mentally putting together a list of resolutions for some time now.

It's kind of weird, because I feel like I accomplished so much last year (published in Nick Jr., started running, stopped drinking coffee, went to the dentist after almost 10 years and finally put that nasty cigarette issue to rest) without any reasons, I'm unsure of the need to list out my hopes, other than I really like to make lists.

But this was back in the glory days of 60-degree temps when I was feeling strong and oh-so confident. Winter returned and I once again contemplated how somebody as silly and depressing as me ended up with such a sweet gig. But the sun will return and I'm just hoping my can-do attitude comes along with it.

Thankfully, my memory has retained at least a few of these to-do tidbits, which I will post here as a reminder of what I still need to accomplish. Happy 2009!

1. Run a half marathon (hopefully two!)
2. Get confirmed into the Catholic church
3. At least get the ball rolling on getting my marriage blessed and girls baptized.
4. Get registered as a certified nursing assistant (for application to nursing school next year)
5. Take a statistics class this summer (same reason as above)
6. Blog at least three times a week.
7. Send a query to a national mag at least once a month.
8. Say one Hail Mary for every mean thought I have about somebody.
9. Let the girls help with one dinner each week.
10. Have a garage sale and clean out the basement storage room.
11. Finally take off that last pesky 10 pounds, win bet with Steve and get anything I want.
12. Plant a garden with the girls.
13. I will try to be nicer, mostly to my family. This is kind of vague, but I think my family deserves this effort.
14. Not be so superstitious of the number 13 that I will not end list of resolutions on 13 for fear of bad luck in 2009.
15. Drink one glass of milk everyday.
16. Make an honest attempt to read the newspaper's A section every day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Klutzy kid

I always thought Carolyn would be the first kid to break a bone. She's so daring and unafraid that I thought for sure she'd land me in the emergency room one day.

Well, I didn't take tripping into consideration. And not the groovy kind, but just your run-of-the-mill falling on the sidewalk. I guess I did the same thing when I was three, a precursor to my lifelong nickname (by my Aunt Sandy, anyway) of Klutzy Chrissy. I guess it does have a nice ring to it.

Anyway, that's exactly what Penny did a couple of days ago. Shortly afterward, and onto the next morning, she refused to walk. An all-day affair at two doctors told us that she had broken her tibia (leg bone), that the break was minute and that she was not in any kind of pain, evident by her sunny disposition.

And it's really been sort of easy, as broken bones go. Penny, who has been sick or injured often this year, knows exactly how to ask for something. "Take me downstairs. Take me to the bathroom. Pick me up." are all phrases which Penny is quite able, and willing to use. In anything, she's more easy going when she's sick or hurt then when she's feeling great.

As for my vision of Carolyn's injury, it would have been much harder going. For one, she plays more like boys play then Penny, so the break would likely have been worse. Just ask a mom with boys. Also, she would not be content hanging around the house, waiting for her leg to heal. That would have drove her bonkers.

The only down side (other than having a child who can't walk) is that we have canceled an upcoming trip to Michigan. It's really been a month of broken for our little household. The car. The pipes. The tree. The electrical system. The sump pump. My voice. I don't think it would be wise to take Penny to the farm where getting around would be very difficult for her. But I'm also a little weary of future breaks on a very long car ride into possible ice and snow.

I think we should just be thankful nothing's broken badly and hope that's the case in the coming days. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Carolyn's world

My kids have never been to Chuck E Cheese. It's not that I'm against high-price, crappy pizza or anything, but it always seems like sort of an (expensive/annoying/aggrevating) ordeal. It's also one of those things I put off as long as possible, because I know the day it enters my house, it's not going away.

That holds true for American Girl, Hannah Montana (a name Carolyn knows, even if she doesn't know what a "Hannah Montana" is) and Wal-Mart. You know, all the things I don't like.

But, like I said about our dear young friend Miss Miley, Carolyn picks up bits and pieces of the forbidden all the time. And PBS, which doesn't have commercials but does have "sponsors," makes regular references to Chuck E Cheese. The other day, Carolyn asked me if we could go there. I asked her why.

"It's where a kid can be a kid," she correctly mimics from 4 + years of Caillou sponsorships.

Advertisers are pure evil.

But she gets it everywhere. She remembers once Steve said, after having read a news story about it, that people get into more fights at Chuck E. Cheese than any other restaurant. Apparently, beer, video games and a "tell your kid to get off that game so my kid can play" mentality spell disaster.

It's a place for kids and fights. I'm starting to wonder if maybe we're missing out.

And it's not just pizza restaurant banter we have to worry about. Steve wanted to catch up on the Gaza attacks last night, and I reminded him it wasn't something we should be watching in front of Carolyn. Steve couldn't understand my reluctance to expose her to bombing footage. Just go ahead, he said, and explain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But then I'd have to go ahead and explain silly little terms like "missile fire," "full-scale invasion" and "decades of Israeli-Palestinian fighting," just to get started with an Associated Press story. I'd probably need a scholar with me if I decided to read her any account from the New York Times.

"Mommy, what's a militant?" Forget it. Hannah Montana marathon anyone?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Best Christmas in the world

Merry Christmas everybody.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve cheer

So the girls are anxiously awaiting the arrival of tomorrow morning. It's been another wint-wintery day here in Central Illinois, with icy sidewalks and chilly temps. And, surprise, I spent last night and all of today greeted by my favorite — the Christmas cold.

But, when you've got two kids sitting under the tree, shaking gifts and giggling with glee, it's hard to be too bah-humbug. So we've been mostly just hanging out today, doing puzzles, watching Christmas shows and not getting dressed.

Happy Christmas Eve. I hope everybody is doing at least as well as we are, which is pretty great.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Frosty's horror

Just to note, I am very, very bored. Very cold temperatures make venturing out to do anything more than deliver Christmas cookies to neighbors just silly. Thank goodness I have a play date for tomorrow with my very nice (and much underseen) mommy neighbor.

I say "I have a play date," but actually it's Carolyn and Penny. It's their play date. Theirs.

And thank goodness for some niceness. The new swim team moms all know each other and it's been really hard to infiltrate the often mundane conversation. Sure some people are really good at this, with their self-confidence and whatnots, but not everybody knows how to make small talk about the day-to-day life of a stay-at-home mom while watching their 4-year-old flail about in the water.

Anyway, we're watching "Frosty the Snowman." I kind of love this cartoon. It's very sweet and has some great catchlines, like when the evil professor Hinkle hitches a ride to a train to get Frosty's magical hat back and he chants, "Think nasty. Think nasty. Think nasty."

But my favorite part is how Frosty gets trapped in a greenhouse. When he's discovered by Santa, the beloved Karen sobbing into a frozen puddle, I have to wonder what those fleeting moments of life were like for poor Frosty. Was he all melty and deformed, flailing about in some maniacal near-death fit while Karen — who is 6 years old, tops — helplessly watches by his side.

Every time I watch it, I want to scream at the television, "Frosty. Don't go in there. It's a trap. For the love of God, let Karen go in by herself. Noooooo."

Anyway, they made good shows back in the day.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Maybe I'm just more in tune with the awful weather now that I rely on reasonably ice-free streets to do my much-loved running. Maybe that's why it seems so horrible.

But really, nobody could think that this was a pretty sight.

We had a doozy of an ice storm last night. In the middle of the night, a giant limb fell on our wires and Steve (rockstar!) went out in the freezing rain and managed to get it down. We never (knocking on wood here) lost power or cable, two things that managed to keep me relatively sane today.

It just seems like we've had a lot of tough luck this week. Our car heater broke. We needed to call an electrician, again. Our backyard is a limb graveyard. The storm froze our sump pump pipes causing flooding in the basement. We had a drain clog that smelled as if our previous owners planted a dozen rotten hard-boiled eggs in the pipes, you know, just for fun.

This is really all true. I tried to be all "let's make the best of this winter wonderland" by going for a walk this afternoon, but it was short-lived because neither Penny nor Fife could figure out how to maneuver on the icy sidewalks. But, as always, Penny looks fantastic.

This blog will have no punchline, as my alcoholic jokes are probably getting old. On a positive note, I'm listening to an all-Christmas Pandora station and this is the song I'm listening to:

" 'Don't forget to call collect on Christmas.' Those were the last words I heard my mother say. 'While I'm sitting all alone, I'll be waiting by the phone. Son I want to hear your voice on Christmas day.' "

And some people don't love this season. Go figure.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Again with the Christmas cheer

I'm trying. Honest I am. We listened to an all-Christmas music station on Pandora yesterday. I turn on the Christmas tree lights every morning. I hold the door for people and let them merge into my lane.

I want to be filled with the holiday spirit.

But it's not easy. For instance, we're having electrical problems so my oven doesn't work. The car's heater stopped working today at the same instant I screamed "I'll take every one of those presents under the tree back to the store if you don't stop crying because you can't eat a banana in the car." I'm mentally preparing to tell Carolyn's swim coaches that I want her back in swimming lessons because since she started swim team, well, she's forgotten how to swim. Steve tells me it's not my fault Carolyn's 4 years old, but I can't help but think that it is.

I am broken and blue. Ho-ho-ho...

So I just cleaned out the garage in single-digit degree weather because it's snowing really bad, and without a car heater, it's impossible to get the snow off the car. This little project has helped me face reality — I hung the bikes from their very high ceiling hooks (this is not something I do often because it forces me to chant "Be stronger, be taller, be stronger" as I hoist these very heavy bikes above my head) and folded the Burley in the realization that winter is here, and I am once again contemplating how I'll make it until spring.

Ho-ho-ho... Maybe a pot of chili and a six-pack of Czech beer will help. After all, nothing's more fun than a weepy drunk with a belly full of chili. Nothing.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ho-Ho-Ho—Not horrible

We went to our annual Santa visit yesterday. Both girls were great, in that neither of them cried as was the case in years past, but they still froze under the pressure and ended up asking for kind of silly stuff and not at all like we practiced.

For instance, Carolyn wants boots. Par-Tay. Nothing like a package of boots to really make a child's special Christmas dreams come true. I hope she like purple, because I've got an inside scoop that's the color she's gettin'.

But it didn't seem as busy this year, and the girls were way more impressed by the balloon-making clown than the BigGuyInTheRedSuit so whatever. We all had lots of fun.

God's funny

I decided, for the first time, to skip my Catholic class today. Despite 12 years of Catholic school, and even serving some time as an alter server, I was never confirmed so I must undergo (endure) a year of classes to re-become Catholic.

I wanted to do this for a number of reasons. Also for a number of reasons, I find the particular church I'm attending not to my liking. So I don't look forward to these classes, but rather, I go to kind of "get through" this phase of a greater plan.

So I skipped. It happens, right! And instead, I decided to take advantage of this 44 degree temperature (nice, relatively, even with 30 mph winds) to go for a run. So who do I meet on the trail?

The deacon from my church, who is now witness to my skipping class. Only one of a handful of people out running this morning. Perfect. This is a new level of guilt I'm feeling today.

Hey... Maybe I really am Catholic!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Exhale, sigh

I felt a huge shift in tempo at our house today. Carolyn had her last day of preschool yesterday, so we've officially entered Christmas break. That's a full week ahead of the public school kids.

I'm so relieved. With Carolyn's new swim team schedule, it's been a little crazy. I get her to school at 12:15, rush home to get Penny down for nap, wake Penny up starting at 2 p.m., leave the house at 2:30 to get Carolyn from school at 2:45, race home to get dressed for swim practice and walk back up to the pool where we are always running late for 3:30 swim team.

Then I sit there for an hour, biting my nails while Carolyn barely manages to doggy paddle her way across the pool. It's not that bad, but she is obviously way behind the other kids and I'm totally stressed the whole time. Not just that, but swim team moms are sort of a little clique, so now I feel like I'm back in high school, but instead of being judged solely on my huge feathered hair and pegged khakis, I'm being judged on my parenting.

This is the worst kind of feeling. It's not that they're not nice, because they really are, but feeling like a 13-year-old loser is not conducive to good parenting. Poor Carolyn and Penny with their awkward, shoulder-slumped mama.

So we leave the pool after getting all dried off, coats on, hats snuggly fitted around wet head and walk home in the dark. Then it's shower time for Carolyn.

Now it's after 5 and I haven't even started dinner. Is this life with older kids, because it's really hard and I feel really out of place.

Which is why Christmas break feels like a huge vacation, just at the right time. Maybe I should wear a huge "World's Best Mom" T-shirt when I get back, just so the other moms know how awesome I really am.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Another Charlie Brown Christmas

As I lament on this space every year, I try really hard to like Christmas. It's just, I don't.

The girls and I, at this moment, are watching the first of many viewings of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," perhaps the best expression of exactly how I feel about the holiday.
Charlie Brown: I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.
Anyway, I was all ready to talk about how I feel uninspired to write Christmas cards nobody will read, bake Christmas cookies nobody really needs and fill my house with toys the kids will hardly even notice among the piles of toys they already own. It's too icy outside to run. It takes us 30 minutes of dressing in winter gear each day to leave the house, something we do several times each day. The stores are filled with people trying to outspend each other.

I felt full of woe.

Then I learned the last newspaper I worked for was laying off half the staff. HALF. An announcement they made, of course, right before Christmas.

So I decided to look around. I live in a house I really like, in a place I've learned to look at as my home. My girls are growing and full of joy. I love my husband. I have freelance work and lots of bread to bake.

What a life! I never thought I'd amount to much more than a heroin addict (which seems to be an ongoing theme in my I Hate Christmas blog), so this is a life I couldn't have dreamed of having. And if one month of the year crams commercialism and holiday cheer down our throats like a well-meaning pixie cup of poisoned grape soda, then that's fine by me.

And there's always Christmas music and Charlie Brown to get me through. I'm watching the part where Linus quotes "And on Earth peace. Good will toward men" and I'm seriously all choked up.

But if that doesn't work, there always lots of beer and wine!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Aimee Mann

When Carolyn was little, we would play a CD for her at bedtime. We didn't have any good nighttime kid music, so for about a year she listened to the "Magnolia" soundtrack. For those of you who don't know, it's basically a collection of Aimee Mann songs, with a few Supertramp tunes thrown in for good measure.

It's actually a pretty good CD.

But she hasn't listened to music at bedtime for about a year, which is why I was so surprised when she asked me this rather existential question yesterday.

"Mommy. Is one the loneliest number?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Snowman, as promised. Not just one...

... But four. We had enough snow to make a whole snowman family. We probably had enough snow to make a whole snow neighborhood, but a family was just fine by us. As Carolyn says:

"Snow! I love snow." From the looks of it, she likes to play with it, but she also kind of loves to eat it.

Morning snow

We woke up this morning to this:

Our first big snow. Of course, today was the first time my family wanted to attend morning Mass with me. So we needed to get the girls dressed to go play outside (because not going out immediately upon waking up to a first snow would be sinful and I knew most any God would totally get that), get ready for mass, get them back inside, get them ready for mass, sweep off the car, shovel the drive, get the boots and coats back on the kids and head out the door.

Since we were obviously way behind schedule, we opted to go to the nearest church, instead of the Franciscan church across town I've been wanting to try. On the way, I told Steve (and I swear this is true): "I don't really want to go to church today."

At that exact moment (and I swear this is true), a car zoomed out of a driveway and came inches from hitting us. I screamed. Steve's quick swerving kept us from getting hit from the car whose driver hadn't really taken too many pains to rid his vehicle of snow and I'll assume hit somebody else on the road to wherever it was he/she was going.

But we weren't hit, and I started thinking maybe church wouldn't be so bad. And it wasn't.

Later today: The season's first snowman.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Penny

Penny turns 3! I'm so happy to be done with the 2s. To be done with diapers. Done with sippy cups and plastic plates. Done with terrible 2 tantrums.

Don't get me wrong, I miss the baby stuff, but it feels kind of nice to have regained some semblance of the "me" I was before birthing babies.

Steve asked me if I feel old today, having a 3 and 4 year old. He asked me if I'll feel old when they're 32 and 33, and I said yes, but I've rethought this. I probably won't feel old. The older I get, the less I'm sure what this so-called "old" is supposed to feel like. Does it feel achy? Does it feel close to death? Does it feel all wise and knowing? Because if the answer is yes, I've felt all those things at very "young" stages in my life. And feeling young is kind of like feeling stupid. And I feel stupid all the time, so maybe I won't feel that way anymore when I'm old.

Anyway... We gave Penny a Tiffany bank today like the one her sister has. I always felt bad that Carolyn had such a lovely bank and Penny had a plastic bag filled with pennies, so I finally got her one. I got it on eBay and saved almost $50 over the price from Tiffanys, so Yeah!

Carolyn got Penny a baby doll, and she is in love. That's all she wants to play with today and I think it's very touching. Here are a few pics, including our annual birthday photos of the girls in my grown-up dress so we can watch them grow into them. Here's how she looked at 1, and at 2, and today...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gobble, gobble

I'm really happy not to be cooking a turkey this year, because by noon, I'm going to need a nap.

Steve and I found a great deal on a flat-screen television ON Thanksgiving Day. I'm hoping everybody is too busy cooking to worry about getting up at 5 a.m. to snag a television on which we will watch the Lions lose.

After I get home, it's on to the Turkey Trot 5K. It'll be about 34 degrees. Practically a heat wave by Central Illinois standards. By 11, I'll just be getting home.

Whew. I'm just really happy for our family's all appetizer Thanksgiving. I have the best family ever, despite the fact the girls at this moment are arguing about a decorative couch pillow I bought five years ago on clearance at Target.

In the words of Bill Crosby, "Stop touching me."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kids say the darndest things

I think 4-year-old kids are hilarious. They're always coming up with some new way to look at the world. When Carolyn's pool friend Gabe found out she was heading to swim team, he told his grandma she was heading up there (finger pointing up, you know, toward heaven). When she asked what he meant, Gabe said Carolyn would be using the pool on the roof. Carolyn was moving up there. Get it... moving up!

Carolyn does this kind of thing all the time, but I thought this rather disturbing moment was particularly sweet. When I tucked her into bed the other night. She was angry because I downgraded her "choose two books" to "I'll choose ONE book for you" after much dilly-dallying and goofing off. Oh... She was mad.

So when I tucked her into bed, and said I love you, she said: "I love you and I hate you."

When I told Steve the next day, he told Carolyn, "That's not nice to say you hate someone." Frankly, I was just happy for a little love. I'm pretty sure when she's screaming "I hate you" at 13, it won't come with that kind of disclaimer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Last lessons

Carolyn ended her swim lessons today.

But don't fret. Our little fishy isn't quite out of the water yet. The owners of the swim school wanted her to join swim team. This means I'm about to become one of those parents that pushes their very young children into a life of discipline, practice and a "only winners in this family" attitude.

Sure she's only 4, but that doesn't mean she has to be a loser.

I'm not really sure what the changes will be. She has more practice time. It does free up our mornings for winter baking and library time, which is awesome. I can't even begin to fathom what weekend swim meets are all about.

Now we need to find Penny's passion. She's going to be 3 next week and I don't want her entering kindergarten without a sense of direction. What kind of parent does that!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Little Mermaid Lesson

"Ariel has breasts."

Carolyn makes this astute observation yesterday while watching the new Little Mermaid, straight to DVD, movie for about the billionth time. At the moment, Carolyn is very into how the body works. Breasts, bones, blood. It's all fascinating.

Uh-huh. "Is she a grown-up?"

Sure. Why not.

She thinks about this for a minute. "Then why does she still live with her father?"

I hate it when she catches me trying to blow her off. Well, I explain, she's a teenager, which means she's still a kid, but much older.

"So teenagers have breasts..." You could almost see the wheels churning.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Night and day

I always kind of figured most of the stuff about kids was nurture. If you treated them a certain way, you'd get certain results.

After having two children, I have converted my thinking a bit. Some of the stuff is just hard wired. I really believe some traits are just built in, like whether a kid is shy or not. Not that I have shy kids, but I'm just saying.

One of these little quirks is sleep. With Carolyn, a very sound sleeper, I always thought parents who couldn't get a kid to sleep through the night were just doing it wrong. Even Penny, who woke up once a night for a year, really didn't give me many problems. Sorry sleepy parents. I was wrong.

But now we have a morning/night issue. Carolyn wakes up pre 6 every morning. Every, single morning. That's kind of fine, since I'm usually up as well, but she wakes Penny up. Penny does not wish to be up at 6 and really lets us know. She wants to go to bed at 9 (Carolyn is fast asleep by 7:03) and sleep until 8.

So I've been sending Carolyn downstairs in the morning for the last few days. I let her watch cartoons (I know... I'm a horrible parent... shut up) while I go running or go back to bed. Penny wakes up at her leisure and everybody seems a lot happier.

And happier, even with morning cartoons, trumps fist fights and screaming.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Random stuff

There's not too much new to report. It got cold, again, so I'm trying to mentally adjust to the coming winter. I just ran a 5K in 34 degree weather, and set a PR of 27:55, so I guess I'll do OK in the cold. It's just the constant dressing and undressing of little-kid winter gear that I really, really hate.

Penny is finally (and I cannot emphasize that word enough) potty trained. So no more diapers, unless somebody leaves a baby on our doorstep, which is highly unlikely. They would see how disheveled our kids look and leave him/her two doors down.

Carolyn loves the word awesome. As in, Awwww-some. Let's go to the park... Awwww-some. Do you want some candy? Awwww-some. Maybe we should head over to California where she can be both awesome and gnarly, even if those things are opposites and she'll never be blond.

Halloween came and went. I'm sad to report all the chocolate candy is already gone. Here's some pictures. Awwww-some.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

When did I become such a mother

Carolyn spilled some juice on the floor a few mornings ago. I was out running and Steve yelled at her a bit because she was goofing around and not paying attention. I know. How dare she?

Anyway, she was really upset by this and started crying. Then she requested, "Don't tell mommy."

Ouch. Am I really that bad. Steve said he almost didn't tell me because he knew I'd feel bad. But he also thought it was really funny.

Yeah. Ha-flippin'-ha.

I do have a bit of a temper. It's usually reserved for those who know me best, because God forbid a stranger know what a jackass I am. But the other day, I even yelled at a stranger. An election volunteer.

This is so uncharacteristic it's hard for me to explain Steve's glee at my sudden outburst (which, by the way, was completely justified because she was demeaning me and I hadn't even asked for her help), which I guess sent the lady into a series of "Um... well... Um... Wa-wa-wa-what" responses. I have no idea what happened, because all I saw was a white-hot flash of anger and then Steve smiling at me.

I don't lose it very often. Long lines at the grocery store, a rude postal worker or waiting too long for the check at dinner very rarely even register. But I don't know what to say — there are some behaviors I just won't tolerate.

This includes the girls demanding food/my attention/a certain toy right this second. Or Carolyn sticking her fingers in other people's food. Or Penny hitting her sister in the back of the head.

Maybe I'm becoming a real jerk. Who knows. But I do know I'm semi-grateful that Carolyn wants to hide things from me. I think a healthy dose of fear is good for children.

And election workers.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Not until it affects me

Thankfully, this whole roller-coaster economy has passed just out of range of our family's radar. We can afford our house. We don't have any car payments. It's unlikely Steve will lose his job.

So gas might be up. We'll just drive less, which is kind of funny since we put roughly 5,000 miles a year on our gold hooptie. Steve's company stops matching 401K investments. Yikes. That totally blows, but it's not going to end Christmas or anything.

We've learned to live on less the last few years, so our changes are not big ones.

But today all that changed.

When I took the girls to Meijer, I went to the bakery to get our free cookie just like I always do. At the counter, I was told corporate has stopped the free cookie program for the time being.

How can this be? I hadn't planned for such devastation, such inhumanity. What would I tell my heartbroken girls about the world around us, a world that no longer provides cookies to quiet restless children? What bribes would be offered today? Would free cookies ever be part of the shopping experience again?

But it's during these hard times we get to see our strength of character. It turns out, my girls are kind of whiny and I'm completely spineless.

Thanks economy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The games we play

You know it's a pretty lousy day when having your identity stolen is one of the least annoying things that happens.

That's only kind of true. It was super annoying, it's just that I'm getting a little tired of being trapped inside with sick kids. But I see the light at the end of the stomach flu tunnel (that is just not good imagery).

Yesterday, as Carolyn took her three-hour nap, Penny and I flipped through the mega-catalog from Victoria Secret. Penny and I like to play the "what's the prettiest outfit on this page" game.

About 80 percent of the time, Penny like the scankiest ensemble. No lie. The shorter the skirt, the lower the neckline, the higher the heel — those are fine choices by Penny. Black leather and lace. Penny says, "It's sooooo cute."

Um. Yeah. Just what I was thinking. I might need to cancel Victoria Secret and start requesting catalogs from LL Bean, or one of those old lady stores with lots of stretch pans and holiday decals on sweatshirts.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Needing more face(book) time

I finally joined Facebook. But because I'm a complete dimwit, I inadvertently invited everybody in my e-mail address book, which I've had for more than 10 years. Isn't that crazy! It also includes random people from stories I wrote, maybe six years ago, and other kind of random people.

In my defense, I pushed send and immediately pushed stop. But I guess it wasn't immediate enough for that tricky little Facebook.

Truth is, I've gotten very good at keeping up with people who live far away. I blog, e-mail regularly, call and now apparently Facebook. But I just re-met this mom-of-a-mom-friend a few days ago, and she gave me her e-mail. Instead of arranging a play date, I just sent her the info she needed about our friend-in-common.

I think I'm avoiding new friends. I'm already so busy, and I don't want to sacrifice my running, or my Catholic confirmation classes, or our busy schedule to "get to know ya." Plus, she's pregnant, so no ladies nights out. I really am a horrible person.

Penny and I have finally rebounded from the icky sicky of recent days. I was actually pretty much fine except for one day, but poor Penny suffered for three days and had to see the doctor. She got really good at throwing up into a bowl. She's still pretty tired, but can eat some stuff now, which is awesome.

So back to our normally scheduled schedule.

Speaking of which, I have always meant to mention this, but Carolyn has an uncanny sense of time. She leaves her bedroom at 6:55 a.m. every single morning. Without fail. It's bizarre. And she's just a bundle of energy.

But once that girl is ready for bed at 7 p.m., and her head hits the pillow, that is that. I've always encouraged a schedule, but she's like time girl.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Last night, Carolyn asked me why our dog Fife didn't like to play with toys. Buster, my mom's dog, loves toys. Loves, loves, loves them.

Well, I said, it's like people. Older people don't really play with toys. And Fife is pretty old.

And, of course, Little Miss Inquisitive asks Why.

I pondered this for a minute. And then I thought up something very profound. Well, profound for me.

"Because they forgot how."

Carolyn has an answer for everything, and she got me on this one too. "But Grandma still knows how to play with toys."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vacation blog postgame show

Penny might have been hurling before the big trip, but it was definitely my turn after. As my friend Dana wrote to me yesterday, airplanes are essentially "germ tubes." Mopping up Penny's poop from the bathroom floor of the Air and Space Museum probably didn't help matters either.

My illness (knocking on wood) seems to have been short lived. I was overcome by fever and chills about 3 o'clock yesterday at the playground and woke up this morning feeling kind of fine. Steve, the best husband ever, was able to come home early and get the kids to bed. He found me and the kids in our bed, at 4:30, watching Peter Pan II when he got home.

But thank goodness everybody was relatively OK during the trip. That would have been disaster. And the weekend is coming up. Just in time for Steve to fight that nasty little bug living in our house.

See... This is why I hate winter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What was your favorite part?

They got it from Dora. The girls are always asking, "What was your favorite part?" just like Dora does at the end of every awful episode. Then she waits 5 seconds, every single time, and says, "I liked that too."

So when it came to our vacation, there was a lot of pondering, "What was your favorite part?"

Steve liked the trip to Washington, where we saw the Air and Space Museum and the White House, along with some sites along the way, even if we did spend more time in the museum food court than we'd care to admit.

I liked the wedding, especially watching the girls get a ride in a firetruck with the Princess (aka, Courtney the bride). Carolyn liked that part too. I also liked eating sushi.

Penny liked playing with her new friends at the park. Those girls belong to one of our favorite people, Joe, and his wife Kristin. Here's a picture of the girls chasing Joe.

And catching him.

It was all really fun, even when we were tired and grumpy. There were a few roadblocks, like the diarrhea incident at Cosi, or how Carolyn cried for an hour after we woke her from her nap, or how some guy ran three feet behind me for about three miles in a very isolated portion of trail along the Potomac River. But we pushed on. We crammed a lot into not a lot of time, and in the end, the girls were ready to come home.

I liked that part too.

So, it's back to normal, back in Normal. Now we only have to make one more trip this year — to go get Fife at the farm where he's on his own vacation with my mom and her dog, Buster. I don't think I'll think about that today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vacation blog pregame show

The family and I just returned from our first "real" vacation, in that we did not visit family members of any kind.

On the eve of our airplane trip to Washington D.C., Penelope was throwing up all over the place. As the vomiting subsided and we got all packed, we all got really excited to visit our friends, a few historic sites and some terrific restaurants, in that order.

And it was super fun. Let's just run down the list of transportation modes we used: an airplane; a bus; a Metro train; an SUV rental from an upgraded compact rental that was a little irritating until we found Interstate 66 shut down because of a crash and then we were happy for the extra room; a firetruck (yes, seriously); a minivan; and then our car home.

I'll post more later, with pics of course, when I feel more like doing stuff.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why? Let me tell ya

It's 6:08 a.m. and I'm sitting at the computer, vigilantly watching the weather radar waiting for the rain to subside so I can go running. I'd go in the rain, but radar promises clearer skies shortly.

In the past, I've been addicted to all sorts of really nasty things. Well, not "nasty" nasty, but let's just say I'm not the kind of gal that really abides by the rules of moderation.

So now I run. I've been running since April, when running was a bit of a misnomer, but I love it and I plan to run as long as my legs allow. That's because, like much of my life, there is no halfway mark for me. I don't just casually run a mile or two. I have a schedule and I like to keep it. I read Runner's World. I'm looking into carb gels for long runs.

This definitely has it's benefits. I just ran my own personal 15K last weekend, I'm planning on running a half marathon sometime next year and, this part is totally true, I'm smokin' hot. Well.... my jeans fit really good.

Speaking of Why (notice how I have not mentioned Why at all, but I need a transistion), I have my own Why Girl, Carolyn. She's been asking Why for more than a year now, and has not let up even the tiniest bit, much like this rain.

I don't mind most of the Whys, especially if I have an answer. "Why do we need to drive cars?" for instance gives me ample opportunity to tell Carolyn they are a convenient luxury item that propagated the largest national delirium of all time and that while we might "like" to drive cars, we certainly often don't "need" to drive them.

But sometimes she asks me things like, "Do I like cereal? Why?" I have no answer for this and tell her as much.

But yesterday, I got a good response to my own Why. "Why do you ask me Why so much?" I ask.

Carolyn says, "Because I want to know everything."

Well then, carry on...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Could somebody please explain this to me

Penelope is a freakin' genius.

She's smart enough to know that the shoe store we've never (not exaggerating) been to is two doors down from the pet store we visited five months ago that had bunny.

She's smart enough to pick out her own outfits and completely dress herself.

She's smart enough to find Fife's leash the rest of the family search-party couldn't locate in 15 minutes of looking.

She's smart enough to know where we're hiding the diapers, to move a chair to her room to reach the hidden diaper drawer, get a diaper, put it on and do her business after we told her "no" to a diaper.

This barely covers her smarty-pants antics. So why is it that she's not smart enough to know that using the toilet is infinitely better than pooping in a diaper? WHY?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Easy Street, thy name is sister

I don't blog much anymore, because it's happened.

I've entered the Golden Age of Parenting, a phrase that I believe should be trademarked immediately because of its most wonderfulness. And it happened exactly 134 days early.

In 134 days, Carolyn will be 5. I always thought 3 and 5 sounded like such lovely ages. No more 2s, which means less diapers, sippy cups and full-blown tantrums. They're both still super cute and obedient. And at 3 and 5, they're old enough to finally play together.

And it happened. At least for this week.

When kids are playing nicely in the playroom (i.e. "Hey Penny, lets play camp out." Penny responds, "Sure! That's great.") and I'm upstairs checking out the latest on the Comics Curmudgeon, I find that parenting is pretty darn easy.

So this week, I baked cookies. I made a pie. I washed the floors and the fingerprinty front door. I watched half a movie in the middle of the afternoon. I (finally) got the bathrooms clean. I made chili. I took the dog for a walk and I nursed at least one hangover after Steve and I (finally) got a babysitter and went out for dinner.

I should go. The girls are fighting.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Four going on 14

The girls and I were at the mall the other day. Carolyn had this little exchange with the salewoman at the Gap. Who knew a 4-year-old could be snarky?

Saleswoman: So. What do you like to do?
Carolyn: I don't know.
S: Well, do you like to play softball? Do you like television?
C: I don't know.
S: How about the playground. Do you like reading books?
C: I don't know.
Penny: I like school.
Saleswoman: High five for that.
Carolyn rushing to set things straight: She's too little to go to school.
Saleswoman: And you're old enough right. What school do you go to?
Carolyn: I go to preschool.

Earlier, I told Carolyn I didn't have enough money for the Merry-Go-Round at the mall.

Carolyn: Just go to the bank. They'll give you money. It's easy.

Here they are in front of the Merry-Go-Round, climbing on the giant free bear that I'm pretty sure 84 kids have sneezed on.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Carolyn's first BFF

Carolyn preschool class had a field trip yesterday to the zoo. Penny and I got to tag along, which was fun because Penny was lining up with the class and fitting right in. She was even answering the teacher's questions during circle time. It was super cute.

But the best part was meeting Carolyn's newest best friend. Most of her friends up until now have been kids of moms I like. Or they live nearby. Or she's in swimming class with them.

Jenna is her first "just Carolyn" friend. It was so sweet, watching them walk through the zoo holding hands. I mean, come on... How freakin' adorable is that.

The only problem is, I think I want Jenna to be Carolyn's BFF more than she does. Carolyn also likes Indyiah (pronounced India), the preschool equivalent of Catholic high school's naughty girl (and, trust me, I know that girl). She's actually pretty nice, and her great grandma lives next door to us, so Carolyn's known her for a while.

But sometimes it's hard to forget this girl is 4. She kind of looks like a really tiny tween with her earrings and swishing pony tail and short skirts. Frankly, I prefer Jenna.

This is clearly why Carolyn will decide to declare Indyiah her BFF. I should just keep my mouth shut.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And then, there was one

I'm not sure why, but it seems I'm only allowed to have one good child.

For the longest time, that child was Carolyn. She was sweet, helpful and always eager to please. At this moment, she's trying to shove a stapler into a glass of water. She's taken to calling Steve, "Steve." This has sent her to her room twice today. She likes to spill water all over the counter under the guise that she's "helping."

Penny, on the other hand, is my new favorite. She just so much fun and so very sweet. She can play by herself for extended periods of time and is always so thankful. Just a few short weeks ago, she screamed if you suggested chocolate ice cream after she demanded strawberry.

At least I should be grateful that I've got one. I see a day, I'm thinking girls at ages 13 and 15, when I've only got prime time television and a gallon of red wine to take the edge off the screaming and fighting and hurling of dinner plates.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fall days

It doesn't feel quite like fall, with the hot summer sun and all, but we're busy like fall. We're adjusting to all the activities and Carolyn seems to be fine, if not a little exhausted at night. But as far as exhaustion goes, it's a good time to get it.

Here's Carolyn at her new dance class. I'm not sure about Carolyn and dance, although she talks about it a lot. What was really amazing was Penny. She saw the class and her already big eyes widened with awe. It was like she was thinking, "This is something that exists. Why was I not told about this before."

Here's Carolyn (the only non-blond) a few minutes into class. She was super amazed how everybody looks the same.

And while Penny isn't enrolled in anything organized, she's busy with her own lessons. We have discovered she's a puzzle protegy. Here she is, finishing a 64-piece Strawberry Shortcake puzzle for about the 10th time that day. It's really quite amazing.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Carolyn's calendar

Despite my best efforts not to enroll my kid in every activity available, I've enrolled her in every activity available. At least every one available within two blocks of our house.

And surprisingly, there's quite a lot available two blocks from our house.

Let's see... We have preschool four afternoons a week.
Swimming two mornings a week.
I just signed her up for dance, which is one evening a week.

And library story time one morning a week. This activity is a whole mile from our house, but it's free.

That's two activities every day, Monday through Thursday.

Today we went to Target to get Carolyn's leotard and ballet shoes when I told her about the dance lessons. That's great she said, but added this:

"Can I have music lessons?"

Sorry kid. That's all the way across town. I guess she'll have to wait until kindergarten for that skill set.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back to Normal

Well, things have been crazy around here but we're returning to routine..... Now!

We had visitors, took a long weekend and really ended summer with a bang, but it feels really good to get back to real life. Carolyn's in school four days a week, and has swimming two days, so we're pretty busy Monday through Thursday. She seems to enjoy school and I really like her teachers.

Her first field trip is later this month. To the zoo. And Penny and I might go. Hooray for fall.

I'm sure there are plenty of great stories to be told, but I'm much too tired to remember any of them. I keep waiting for this haze of exhaustion to leave, as it always does after much activity, but I think I'll give it a few more days.

Until then, here's the girls at the playground today in some fancy new school duds. Penny doesn't go to school, but she still needs to look sharp.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What happened to summer?

So what that it's 90 degrees outside (and inside for that matter). So what that school hasn't yet started for Carolyn. So what that we just kind of hang out on these long and lazy days.

Summer officially ends because, today, I'm 35 years old.

Ugh... But what's a aging mom-type to do? I'm thinking Chinese buffet. Maybe a half dozen cocktails. I did spend my morning running, which has brought me into my 36th year healthier than at any other time of my life.

But enough whining from me. There's girl news to be had.

The other day, Carolyn was saying, "Oh. I've gotta crap."
She's squatting, insisting on this and also saying something like, "Racoto."
Penelope finally filled us in by cheering for her insistent sister. It was "Bravo" and "Clap."
Oh! That's much better.

Penelope is nearly fully potty trained. At least the front half of her is. She even stopped wearing diapers to bed. But when it's time for the big potty time (see Carolyn's misinterpreted line above) then she wants her diaper. Another mom told me that's common, so I'm not too worried about it.

We just had a house full of people for about a week and a half. It was super fun, but left us super exhausted. Here's a picture of the zoo, where we took the girls and their cousins, Jeremiah and Isabella, while their parents took an overnight trip to Chicago. It was fun having four kids (I even braved the grocery store, just to see if I could do it) at least for a few days. If I had four, I'd for sure lose one.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My reputation precedes me

Yesterday, Steve gave the girls a bath. I told him not to wash Carolyn's hair, as she had a shower earlier in the day.

When I came downstairs to bring them pajamas, I went in to see how things were going.

"Daddy got my hair wet," Carolyn said.
He did?
"He wasn't supposed to do that," she said.
No, I said. I guess not.

"Are you going to yell at him?"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sick and two

My little Penny woke up this morning in quite a state. I got back from running to find her sitting on the couch, acting very morose. I thought she was just worried about not being able to find me, but then she threw up all over the couch, checking my ego and starting a vomiting trend that was not soon to end.

Fun stuff. Carolyn is unaffected and seems to be enjoying a morning of Sesame Street and Popsicles.

On a possibly unrelated note, Penny really showcased her desire to disagree with anything I say yesterday. Penny, I say. You can't stand in the doorway without pants.

"But I don't like pants," she screamed.

"Then get out of the door," I say.

"But I like the door."

Here's Penelope a few days ago, feeling just fine.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who is Michael Phelps?

Well, obviously he's a gold-medal swimmer, and perhaps one of the best Olympians of all times, but he's definitely not as cute as my little swimmer.

She's holding up her gold medal for you.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sweet Devil Child of Mine

I've been known to complain once or twice about the terrible twos. But this is who Penny really is:

Today, we split up the girls like we do when it's pretty obvious they are not going to have a great day. There's nobody on the planet who spends more time together than two siblings who aren't yet in school, and sometimes they need a break too.

I took Carolyn to the zoo and a new playground. Lots of fun. Penny went to the grocery store, dollar store and playground with Steve.

At the dollar store, Steve promised Penny a new puzzle, her recently favorite obsession, which of course she mastered in about a day. He also got her a coloring book.

I guess Penny insisted Steve also buy a coloring book and puzzle for Carolyn. And she wanted to get the activity book featuring Ariel, because "Sister likes the Little Mermaid."

How freakin' sweet is that! So here's to Penny — the sweetest 2-year-old on the planet. At least today.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The sounds of silence

I just have to say, if you're ever in need of a gift for the girls and decide a coloring book is the perfect choice, you won't get any argument from anybody in this house.

We (I!!!) love blissfully quiet coloring time.

Friday, August 01, 2008

School days

After all my fretting about preschool (rather my fretting about Carolyn not going to preschool because I waited too long to get her in the school I could A) afford and B) walk to), I simply called the director today and asked if Carolyn could be put in the 5-year-old program.

Sure, the director said. No problem!

I'm so pleased. Carolyn just finished her summer program yesterday, and I have to say, she's really turned a corner in the last few months. The teachers gushed about how social and happy she is. During the class performance (they sang a few songs) Carolyn was right out in front. Her teachers said she loves to sing and is destined for Broadway.

I just think Carolyn will love preschool. And bonus, the class is four days a week right during Penny's nap. No excuse for not being published in the New York Times now...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fw: This is hilarious

This is a real e-mail I received from Steve today.
Also, on the way into school day, Carolyn looked at an older lady coming out and yelled “That woman has really big breasts!” I’m hoping she was too far away to really hear it, but I told Carolyn not to talk about people’s breasts because it’s not nice. But on the other hand, Carolyn was right, they were big.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Of course the racetrack was my favorite part

I can't believe I did a whole blog about going to Minnesota, and failed to mention that we went there to see mom. She's racing horses at Canterbury. We spent a fun day at the track, complete with corn dogs and ice cream.

A few days ago, I sent a friend some of this blog from 2006, it's glory days. Upon reading the entries, at which time Carolyn was the same age as Penny, I realize being 2 is tough for everybody. So whenever I catch myself saying, "I don't remember Carolyn refusing to wear anything but her butterfly shoes and Little Einstein pajamas," I can step back and recall what a terror our little angel was.

Here's a little of what I mean.

June 29, 2006
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.

Sept. 19, 2006
Carolyn's her typical funny self. She likes to pretend she's a baby, which I'm sure is a deep-seeded cry for help. She's recently started telling Penelope "Nanananana-No." She sings little high-pitched songs to herself and wanders around the house, much like Ophelia must have done before she drowned herself.

Oct. 23, 2006
And so sometimes Carolyn strikes out in a diva-bitch manner. Give her a break. She still hasn't perfected sentences.

And just think about how tough Penny will be. Carolyn doesn't have enough time on Penelope to get too mean before it comes back to haunt her.

It's like I'm some kind of toddler prophet.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Return to Normal

We just returned this week from our trip to Minnesota. As firsts for the whole family, we visited Minnesota and Iowa. We went right through the flood-ravaged area that caused so many problems for Iowa earlier this year. It was weird to be walk through an older Midwestern town where everything was either brand new or in the process of being renovated.

The trip was great. We, of course, visited Mall of America. We also went to this really awesome farmer's market that reminded me a great deal of Washington D.C.'s Eastern Market.

The girls were great, except for the first night when we heard Carolyn calling for us from the bedroom and found Penny on top of her, trying to gouge out her sister's eyes. Also, Penny got carsick on the ride home and pucked up a half a bag of baby carrots. Steve was able to catch most of it while we sped along the Iowa expressway looking for an exit.

But it was our second pretty long road trip of the summer and I think we're finished for awhile. We have a plane trip scheduled for October, so we'll see if that's any easier (hahahahahahah!!!).

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rainbow girls

There are some activities for the girls that, while I'm not opposed to trying, I am trying really hard to put off as long as possible. It's because once they try it, and love it, it makes it harder to say no. If they didn't know something, say American Girl, was the best thing since pesto pizza, they don't ever ask for it or want it. This is exactly why I wrote to American Girl and asked to be removed from their catalog mailing list.

Just because it's inevitable doesn't mean it can't be postponed.

I felt this way about festival face painting. Whenever you go to one of those festivals, the line of the face painting lady is ridiculous. And at $7 a pop, not exactly cheap. But Carolyn must have heard someone talk about face painting at school or the playground or something, because all of a sudden, she's got her heart set on it.

And if Carolyn has it, dollars to donuts Penny has to have it too.

So our pre-face painting lives are a thing of the past. But even though it's totally a scam and annoying and wasteful, don't the girls look cute!

Carolyn's a butterfly!
Penny's a tiger. A rainbow tiger!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

And the worst mother of the year goes to...

You guessed it. You're favorite bumbling mom has done it again.

Today, a lifeguard rescued Carolyn from the pool. I was standing two feet from her, and I'm pretty sure she wasn't drowning, but still. The whole event, with the whistles and the 18 teenagers running to our aid and then silently judging me, was pretty traumatizing.

Carolyn's been the recipient of nosefuls of water in the past, but never accompanied by fear or tears. Today, we had a fair share of both.

And while I was super embarrassed, really, the worst part of the whole experience is feeling like I should have kept a closer watch on our little swimmer. There's no way that should happen. Ugh... I'll take embarrassment over that feeling any day.

In the end, we managed to calm down, get back on the horse (back in the deep-end of the pool) and sort of enjoy the rest of the day. In the midst of all this, with poor little mortified Carolyn, I thought, and even vocalized, "I forget how small you still are." I do. Maybe it's the plight of the first child.
But no more excuses. And no more lifeguards. And, please, no more near drownings. Here's a video (post-lifeguard, so you can see we recovered nicely) of the perfectly safe little kid slide we clung to so dearly last year.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Safety Town girl

Yesterday, I took the girls to Safety Town. It's a small course that teaches kids about road signs and stuff, but mostly it's a good place to let the kids ride their bikes without crossing streets and dealing with a-hole drivers, like the one who almost hit me today because, obviously, stop signs do not apply to jerks. Silly me.

Penelope can't quite figure out the pedals, but that is not slowing her down at all. The girl's got some amazing sense of timing, if you ask me.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Thinking of you

I'm definitely in summer lag mode. Why is it impossible to get anything accomplished when it's light outside for like 15 hours a day? It's a mystery I'm willing to live with, only because I kind of love these long and lazy days.

I feel like this summer, I have very little to do and oh-so-much to think about. It's a life in transition, but nothing too exciting is going on right this very second. I did run my first five mile race a few days ago with a time of 50:54, which I'm pretty happy about.

(*note: I actually ran in 50:47, which made me feel good about myself. But then 2 seconds later, I realized I placed 448th. Hmmm. Not so good)

But that's it. Today, Steve took Carolyn to see her first movie at the theater. Penny and I went shopping, which is one of her favorite things to do (we got her some new shoes and Little Mermaid underpants, fingers crossed). Here's my favorite funny story from the girls.

• When Penelope is being especially naughty (like, every 10 minutes for the last two months) and I say something like, "Penny, it's not nice when you hit Fife over the head with that truck," Carolyn always chimes in with this: "But I'm nice mommy. Aren't I nice?"
The other day, Carolyn shoved an entire banana in her mouth. When pieces started falling out onto her leg and she started scooping them up to shove them back into her mouth, I said it's not polite to eat like that. I told her that's how monkeys eat bananas. So Penny said, "But I eat it right mommy. Don't I eat it right?"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ice cream madness

It is hard impossible not to consume too much ice cream this time of year. You're at the pool and starving. What better hot weather treat? You want a fun after-dinner outing. Of course the ice cream cone is the perfect solution.

But last week, we got ready to pounce as we heard the ice cream truck coasting through the hood. Were we ever disappointed when he picked the street behind us and the final street on his route. Poor Carolyn, following on my heels as I scrounged for change around the house, as we were left ice creamless and a bit sad.

So when we were biking down the trail last week, and spotted Mr. Ice Cream Man on a cul-de-sac, of course I let the girls have a tasty, cold treat. Sure we had just eaten a snack of grapes, but this is the ice cream man, the same one who apparently wasn't getting enough business in our neighborhood.

As a side note, Caro
lyn put a puzzle together this morning. Penny ran up to her and said, "Carolyn! You are so cold." I think she meant cool, but perhaps her sister's frosty disposition had finally pushed Penny over the top!

For anybody interested in Eastern Europe, check out my cousin's travel blog at or
cesty ~ путешествия ~ travels ~ reisid ~ podróże It's quite good, and a bit of a history lesson for anybody interested in them there parts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pool Penny

In light of my recent admonition of moms who have their kids enrolled in too much organized stuff, I realize the irony in my decision to put Penelope in swimming lessons.

Sure I could say I want her to swim for safety reasons, or because she loves the water so much I feel strongly that knowing how to properly swim might save her life.

But these would be lies.

The truth is, now that Carolyn can swim, I'm sitting there with Penny while all these little kids are enrolled for the summer, and I just feel a little bad that Carolyn gets to do it and Penny can't. So I decided to give it a go, knowing full well that my non-water loving Penelope might not take to it as well as Carolyn did.

The thing is, she took to it just as well. Maybe a little better, after having watched the routine going on six months now. Ms. Connie, the girls' teacher, told me I was so lucky to have two kids who both love water.

Who knew? Certainly I didn't.

The lesson went so well, in fact, that a mom who had planned on waiting until September to enroll her toddler decided to start next month. See that. Now I'm a trend-setter.

Who knew. Certainly I didn't.

Here's pics and a video of swimmer Penny.

Using what's left

For anybody who doesn't know, our little Penny is a leftie.

I thought it was kind of cool when she just naturally did things with her left hand. It went a long way with me in a realization that some things are not about nurture. Some things come down to the hardwiring.

But in practice, being left is kind of a pain. It's hard to teach her things. Hold a pencil. Use a fork. Swing a bat. These are things I just don't do with my left hand, so it's hard to demonstrate. Also, I have to consciously think about which way to hand her the fork, almost every time I do it.

And that doesn't even address our future pains. Left handed golf clubs. Left handed scissors. Left handed can openers. It's endless for the up to 10 percent of the population born to be left.

Kind of like pounding a square peg into a round hole. No wonder so many lesbians are left-handed. No really... they are.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer of Chris, part 2

So I'm sitting on the couch, enjoying a lovely cup of tea, thinking about how I just finished my last story and in the first time in more than a year, I really don't have anything to do.

Usually, these situations make me a little anxious. But I think I'll wait until next week to start worrying.

Everything here is super awesome. The weather is amazing. Today, the girls and I picked wild flowers and went to the playground. Steve took the bus to work this morning, so we'll probably walk halfway to pick him up tonight.

See... fun stuff!

Here's a picture of Carolyn being fancy, just like Fancy Nancy from the children's book. She has her sparkly scarf and sparkly shoes and sure did look extra fancy.

And I took this video of our practice camping trip we did in the backyard over the weekend. The girls take turns standing in front of the window and put on a show, which is either singing or a story. Penelope can really ham it up, as you can see.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Summer swimming

Ah, here we are again. Too busy enjoying summer to blog. Or clean. Or talk to Fife. Or... you get the point.

We're back at the pool. Only this year, we're doing the pool big time. We go to the deep pool (four to five feet, so I'm still able to stay above water a little) and I pull Penny around while Carolyn climbs out, jumps in, swims around a little and starts all over again. Since I kind of love being submerged in water, this new routine is working out very well.

Carolyn is attending this summer program. She loves it, mostly because her teacher, also a Carolyn, actually knows her name and doesn't call her Caroline. Penelope always runs up to Carolyn when we go to get her, hugs her tight and says, "I'm proud of you sister."

The class is during Penelope's nap, so that allows me a solid hour and a half to work watch television/play on the Internet/nap/stare out the window.

And today, Steve taught Carolyn this little bit of hilarity. It's not as foxing funny as learning fox sounds just like the F-word from Penny, but it's still pretty cute. I'll try to post a video soon.

Give me five (Slap hand)
Up high (raise hand)
Down low (lower hand and move it quickly away)
Too slow.

(Then she makes a hole with her finger)
Put your finger in the hole.
(I've never hear this part! I do what I'm told)
You just broke my toilet bowl.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I need a new summer song

That's because summer is here. Woohoo... Yeahhhh... Summer!!!!

Since these days I'm relaxing poolside, by which I mean desperately trying to keep both girls at the shallow end as they continually disappear behind a wall of bratty preteens who keep splashing me in the face, I don't have a lot of time to blog.

So here's the skinny. Carolyn is really great. She's playing quietly in her room at the moment while Penelope naps. When I say, "Carolyn, it's time to leave this super fun pool to go home and sleep," she says OK. She knows almost all her letters (she has a hard time with R for whatever reason) and can write her name. She's just waiting to turn 5 so she can get a library card.

Penelope. Well. We love Penelope. We really, really do. But sometimes, it's a little hard to remember. It's that little thing we call the terrible 2s, like when I say we have to leave the pool and she screams (and kicks) for the entire 10 minutes it takes to drag her out of there in a scene that makes it necessary for me to apologize to the teenagers working there.

Oh, she's a handful, my Penny. But we love her and smile politely when people say, "Oh she's so pretty. She's so sweet. She's so polite." Um. Yeah.

That's it right now. Just know that I'm super tan, muscular from all my running and biking, and totally in need of a babysitter, in case any of you know any. Have a fantastic summer.

Monday, May 26, 2008

How I turned my daughter into a racist

Let me begin by saying that karma is bullshit. Complete BS.

Steve and I spent Saturday being very good people. We saved a nest of bunnies (ahhh... bunnies!!!) from certain death. A grocery store clerk gave us $20 he thought we dropped and we returned it. We made this three-day holiday a car-free Memorial Day weekend.

So we were completely stunned by what Carolyn did at the playground. She walked up to this black man playing with his daughter and said, "You're a different color."

Aghhh. It was totally humiliating, made worse because I'm not sure we handled it correctly. We immediately pulled Carolyn aside and told her it wasn't polite to point out people's differences. Too tall. Too old. A wheelchair. A different color. But it's just something she's noticing right now, along with eye color, hair color and the fact that she has nipples.

This is making for a very awkward line of questioning.

The worst part was I felt like a should have said something to the guy, but couldn't bring myself to look his way. I just know he thinks we're a couple of suburban yahoos who've kept their children separate yet equal. And it's true, her school was completely white. Our neighborhood is largely white. Our city is mostly white.

Should I have told him, "Hey guy. Sorry about that, but I was raised in Detroit." Or perhaps, "I take her on the bus where there's lots of black folks." How about "I contributed to Barack Obama's campaign."

Really, it's an eye opener that we need to have more discussions about these things with Carolyn and Penelope, especially since we live in a not-so-diverse community. It's not Carolyn's fault, but deep down I feel like it's kind of mine.

And just for the record karma, we saved bunnies. Does that count for nothing?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Just a fish

Here's Carolyn this year at her grandma's pool. I'd say it was much better than two years ago, when she scared the creamed corn out of everybody.

Back to real life

We just returned from a nearly week-long trip to Tulsa. It was really fun — I got a chance to work on my sunburn, the girls got to play in the pool, we ate our weight in delicious restaurant food — but it's nice to be home. These trips, especially the driving, are tough and everybody is kind of in wind-down mode today, except for Steve who might in fact be in wind-down mode, but is doing so at work.

While in Tulsa, I ran my first 5K. Not to be outdone, Steve and the girls participated in their first one mile fun run, with Penelope coming in dead last, but still greeting everybody she walks by. See:

(*note: Penelope isn't waving, Steve tells me. She's holding a flower and admiring her flower as workers gather the orange cones behind her. When I say last, I DO not exaggerate.)

We'll miss everybody in Tulsa, but the girls will especially miss their cousins Jeremiah (who Penny calls Mia) and Isabella.

Also, I just got an A in my anatomy and physiology class, not that it matters. But still, how'd that happen!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day

I had the best mother's day. Steve and the girls made it great. We're all very busy right now, so I won't bore you with anecdotes of how cute Penny is, or how grown up Carolyn has become, or how much fun Steve and I are.

But here's some pictures.