Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Christmas Gauntlet

My brother-in-law coined the title to this post to describe the four day traveling extravaganza that was our holiday.

Friday, we drove across the city to see the relative who suggested that I get a sitter and come without the girls. Since a sitter was out of the question, I left Doug at work and took the girls over there three hours early so that Dagny could nap. It worked out fine because I helped with the party preparations and got the girls home at only one hour past their bedtime. If Annika hadn't woken back up, we would have been golden. Saturday, I gave Doug a pass and took the girls to my Grammy's house in Griffin for lunch. Dinner was to be at 6pm and that would NOT work with Dagny's nap (3-5pm) so I thought lunch would be better. When I arrived at the house, they told me that "dinner" was at 4pm so if I had known the actual time, I could have stayed home in the morning, brought Doug and actually done the official party. Whatever. Grammy is hard of hearing, so it was better to be there before the crowd anyway. Sunday was cold, but I got to run and go to Mass before 8:30am. We shopped in the morning and then Doug took Annika to church with his family in the afternoon. Everyone returned to our house after church for food and excitement. It was very pleasant and easy. Monday was beautiful. Santa got up early and repaired the seam of Dagny's rocking lamb while Doug made a lovely breakfast. We had to wake Annika at 7:40 because Dagny was screeching for her. The girls had a marvelous time and we played outside in the freezing rain until lunch. My family came for the ultra-controversial Christmas dinner. They may actually be speaking to me again now (despite the fact that it was not I who demanded any change in plans), but maybe not. Regardless, we made beef, asparagus, risotto and lobster tails for dinner. Except that my risotto was done well in advance of everything else, the food was good and I think everyone had a good time.

Yesterday was to be my running day. We did some size-correction shopping in the morning and I was going to run in the afternoon. Then came the rain. I put Dagny down for her nap and noticed that the drops were covering the driveway. Sorely tempted to stay inside, I came down to check the weather on the computer. Sigh - no sign of stopping and no indication of any rain on the radar. However, Natalie had sent me an email about my race, which spurred me back into action. I donned the foul-weather gear and sallied forth into the mist . . . hoping to get to 8 miles. I ran the first two miles in the 39 degree rain. After that the rain stopped and I even saw another runner. I got to seven miles without pain, but then my hurt knee began to ache. Knowing that further running would make me lame, I stopped at 7 and counted myself lucky. This will be my last long run before the big race. I may not make good time or even get to run the whole way, but I think I can finish. Thank you Nat, for getting me out of the house. It was the best run I've had in a long time.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Oops

I finally made the Outrageous Peanut Butter Cookies that Anna wrote about last week. One of the cookies broke as I was transferring them from the cookie sheet to the cooling rack, so I had to taste-test. "Hm," I thought, "tasty, but a little buttery." I wondered if the peanut butter added extra fat so that it overwhelmed the flour. Maybe I needed more flour. I consulted the recipe for further muddling. All of a sudden I noticed that it called for 1/2 cup of butter. For those of you who are not baking fools this week, that means one stick of butter. I used two. Oops.

They are still good, just a bit pecan-sandieish in texture. Good thing I have extra chocolate chip cookies from the garbage guys' batch, which (by the way) start with two sticks of butter.

It would be silly if I hadn't done this to the sugar cookies just last week.

In other news, I ran six miles yesterday. It's a new world record. Not really, but it is the farthest I've gone since August. No knee pain at all, except for where I strapped my knee brace too tightly and hurt the back of my knee, which I didn't notice until I removed the brace upon finishing. I did learn that the whole wheat pancakes and grapefruit were not bad pre-run food, but maybe less of them would prevent them from threatening to reappear. The run certainly helped my endorphin shortage. I was beginning to feel a lot like the grinch with my soul being "an appalling dungheap. . . ."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Heck

I love grapefruit. Annika and Dagny love grapefruit. For lunch, I cut the grapefruit into smiles (wedges, for those of you without toddlers) and we eat them all up. When Annika eats her smiles, or anything else, for that matter, I exclaim and praise her.

So, when she ate her grapefruit smiles recently, I said "wow, Annika, you are eating the heck out of that grapefruit." Yes, I said heck. I probably should have phrased this differently despite the obvious lack of bad words.

"Why?" you say. Because now Annika thinks that the inside of the grapefruit is called the "heck." "Mom, I ate all of the heck out of this grapefruit." "Dagny left some of the heck in her grapefruit." Either that or Annika is using Larry the Cable Guy as her speech role model.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Ugliest Cupcakes and other disasters

Doug's birthday was last week. We went out for dinner to a fancy-schmantzy place inside the perimeter (I had a gift certificate). Since we left the girls with my mom, Annika and I made cupcakes the next day to celebrate the birthday with the family.

Because a cake mix makes a million cupcakes and I'm not a terrible baker, Annika and I decided to make the cupcakes from scratch, using the Small Batch Baking cookbook. We made the fudgy chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing. As the cupcakes finished baking, I tested them with a toothpick to be sure they were done. No problem until the cupcake deflated as I removed the pan from the oven. That has never happened to me before, so I crossed my fingers and hoped that I could just take the ugly one. Nope. Soon enough, all four cupcakes deflated, leaving a crunchy burned rim around the top of the pan and sunken centers (like the craters of volcanos). Crossing my fingers, I whipped up the peanut butter frosting. It tasted lovely, but my spatula broke off in it. Sigh. I frosted as best I could and you can see the results. Annika had one cupcake and enjoyed it, but the others were a loss. Doug didn't even taste them. I spent two days beating myself up about not being exact enough to bake in small batches before tasting (in a fit of hormone weakness) the monstrosities and realizing that they were AWESOME. Doug missed out.

A week prior to this event, we went to a bring-the-kids party at which I was to bring dessert. After contemplating the chocolate flan cake and nixing it as too "flan-ish," I consulted with Tara (who suggested some lovely desserts) and Anna (who suggested a red velvet cheesecake and a three-layer cheesecake). Since it was a party, I went with the festive cheesecake. It wasn't a difficult recipe and turned out very nicely with delicious topping, but no one at the party touched it. No one, until I begged for opinions (and then only two of us tried it). Let that be a lesson - at a party where people are chasing kids, finger food is better. Then, we dropped the remainder of the cake on the neighbor's driveway on the way home. Oops. Hope that it didn't stain.

This past Sunday, I went to a work party. Mindful of the untouchable cheesecake, I planned my dessert selection around what the other dessert-bringer was doing (Buche de Noel from Gabriel's). Thinking that something simple would make a good foil for the cake, I baked banana bread with peanut butter chips and walnuts and pumpkin bread and paired them with chocolate chip cookies and some leftover oatmeal cookies. No dice. My desserts tasted and looked pretty marvelous (if you ask me), but no takers. Everyone ate the cake (except for Steph, who doesn't like cake) and left the breads and cookies.

I was only able to run 2 miles yesterday (sore knee) and today's cold/low-grade fever are making my appointment with the Billy Blanks CD unlikely. So, I've wasted two 18 packs of eggs and a lot of effort in the last two weeks for nothing except to expand my own waistline. I love the holidays.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Nice Thing

I'm full of good stories to post, but a bit short on time these days. So, instead of the photos of the cupcakes we made for Doug's birthday or the numerous attempts at Christmas card photos, I'll tell you a nice thing that happened to me today.

I took Annika to "church school" this morning and went to Mass. Doug had Dagny and they went shopping. Dagny is sick and has bumps on her head and nose from our outing yesterday so it was better for them to be alone together. Anyway, during Catholic Mass, when you say the "Our Father," everyone holds hands. It's a relatively new thing and a bit hippy-dippy, but a good community-builder. So, I extended my hand to the woman next to me and into the aisle (because I was on the end) and was denied. The woman at my side had her hands folded in prayer and was not going to share my cooties. No matter, I get the germ idea so I wasn't angry. It is good form to extend your hand across the aisle but it's unlikely to be taken, so I resigned myself to empty-handed "Our Father"ing. Whatever - no big deal.

Then, a woman that I know from our neighborhood reached across the aisle from one row back and grabbed my hand. I know it's sappy, but it really made my day. Hopefully she didn't notice that it made me cry. Maybe I'm spread a little too thin these days or maybe it was because I was up three times last night with Dagny or maybe I'm still not feeling that I'm actually a part of the congregation yet, but that little gesture meant a lot to me. Thank you, lady - I hope that I can hold out my hand to you when you are having a bad day.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Different Life

Natalie mentioned in her blog today that she wishes that she had run in high school as her gymnastics coach had encouraged.

While I ran on Sunday, I was thinking about the same thing - how would my life have been different if I had run track my freshman year as I had wanted to. Unfortunately, that year I was grounded from the world from January until spring because of the sneaking-out incident. So, I was barred from track that year and just never bothered again. Would I have stuck with it if I had joined the team? Could I have kicked ass at the hurdles (the way I did in my mind's eye)? Would the stronger/thinner/faster/smarter/taller endorphin high have helped me actually buckle down and learn something in high school instead of worrying mainly about boys? Would I have appreciated the nice boys who liked me instead of pursuing the "bad" ones? I don't know. If the running and discipline did not create a character change, it is likely that I would have just given it up. I was pretty darn shallow then and had no perspective. I like to think that I was a larva (or a pod person) - lacking in actual human qualities.

So, in light of the spitting incidents and nastiness at school, I am wondering how we can instill empathy, consideration and perspective in the girls so that they aren't like larva. So far, we are still working with the "we control you" system that I mentioned last week, with a little "Santa is watching you" thrown in for good measure. I don't know where to begin to bridge the transition from "we control you" to "you are a good human who can make choices." Doug insists that team sports are a good first step. So, even if Annika and Dagny are REALLY DARN BAD, they will still do the sports. We will just have to think of some other thing to deny them or make them do for punishment.

By the way, my sister mentioned to me that a call from Santa might not be a bad idea for the unruly kid - a "I hear that you might not be acting like a good girl all of the time - better shape up" call. We haven't resorted to that, but it is definitely an option.

Friday, December 01, 2006

If I Didn't Know Better

One Christmas (8th grade), I received a giant hershey kiss from a female relative - with a card that said "your first?"

Then, last week at Thanksgiving dinner, after I explained why I put Uncrustables sandwiches in Annika's lunch box (so she will eat something, anything, at lunch), the same relative said "you lose your mommy card for that!"

Then, today I got an email from the same woman which said you are invited to XX event at XX location on XX date, "around 6 or whenever it is good for babies. Or, if too hard, how about a sitter?"

So, I know that I was hypersensitive in middle school, that being my fat period, the time of hormones and the fact that I had indeed never kissed anyone. Bless her heart, she meant it as a joke. You can even hear the "hee-hee" after the quotation marks. Heck, the card probably even SAID "hee-hee." You'd think that with teenagers of her own and having been a pubescent girl at one point, she might have been sensitive to these issues, but no.

The Thanksgiving thing was also a joke - "oh ho - you lose your mommy card for THAT! ha ha ha!" She has no way of knowing about the First Meals book or the time I spent making baby food and ensuring that no sugar or other junk entered Annika's body. Or the fact that Doug and I now silently and covertly rejoice together if Annika puts a single bite of anything in her mouth.

And the latest, though not a joke, is an attempt to be accomodating after ignoring my sister's polite request for a child-friendly time. She is probably just trying to make sure that the time works for the folks who work in offices - with no idea that it's usually the kids that are the bigger lure, not the dinner.

Anyway, the nutshell is - please, please promise that you will all ridicule me when I start to say stuff like this. Or at least pull me aside for a private discussion on thinking before speaking.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A New World Order

Here is some comic (maybe) relief:

Doug and I have a new company line: "good girls get good stuff and bad girls get bad stuff." A little harsh, perhaps, but we had some distressing news from the school this week. Apparently, Annika spit at some of the other students and told one girl that she was not her friend and that she hated her. This is in addition to the numerous temper-tantrums, screaming and general acting-out that we've had going on around here. I had attributed the bad behavior to Dagny's new-found mobility and cuteness. It could also just be fatigue because Annika is trying to give up her afternoon naps.

Anyway, the new plan is for Annika to go to bed earlier (8/8:15pm) and receive immediate punishments for deviations from appropriate conduct. No warnings, no counting, no repeating directions - it's actually a lot easier for me. More difficult, however, is rewarding the good conduct because it's hard to find good conduct to reward.

We kicked off the new world order with a dinner at Hachi-Hachi (not its real name) last night because Annika said that she was nice to all of the other kids at school yesterday. It was very big fun and they even had a cool Japanese soft drink with a marble in it. Good girls get good stuff. This morning, however, Annika disappeared while Dagny was finishing her breakfast and I was cleaning the kitchen. She lost track of time while playing with her toys and peed in her clothes before she made it to the potty. Therefore, she had to skip dance class, was not allowed to wear a leotard and we did errands instead. Bad girls get bad stuff. Annika changed her clothes like I asked, and followed directions until we got to the library so she got to pick out some books. Good girls get good stuff. (That one was a stretch, but I needed something good to even out the bad).

If lunch goes well, we will roll out the replacement sugar cookies and bake them. If not, punishment city.

In other news, I ran 5 miles on Sunday and again yesterday. Whoo hoo! I've realized that I won't be able to make my goal time in the half-marathon, but I think I'll be able to run the whole thing. Unfortunately, in mile 3 yesterday I allowed my frustration with something at work get the best of me and ran entirely too fast (which isn't really fast, but apparently any increase in speed puts extra stress on my knee) and now the knee is sore. No running today or tomorrow. Maybe on Friday.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

This fall, Doug promised Annika that I would help her make pumpkin pie. Real pumpkin pie. Out of actual pumpkins.

I've never done such a thing. All of my mother's pies started with a nice can of pumpkin. So, I googled and came up with this recipe. It was a little vague on the pumpkin-cooking instructions and seemed to recommend steaming. We bought some pie pumpkins, which sat on my table for several weeks before I mustered the courage to cook them. Since butternut and acorn squash look like pumpkins, I decided to roast/bake the pumpkins as if they were one of those squashes. Just so you know, pumpkin doesn't take nearly as long to roast as butternut or acorn squash. After thirty minutes, I peeked in the oven and my pumpkins halves were collapsed (and therefore, done). Also, the recipe said that one pumpkin would yield about 3 cups of puree, which would be enough to make one pie. I cooked two pumpkins and yielded 3 cups of puree, but it made enough batter for two pies.

Anyway, once I had pureed the pumpkin, I showed it to Annika. "Ick," she said. "That stinks." On that auspicious beginning, we finished making the pies and baked them. Doug picked up whipping cream in a can at Trader Joes and we served Annika her pie with the magical topping - green sprinkles. Delightful. Seriously, those were some really good pies.

Today, on the other hand, I tried to make sugar cookies. It was a very easy recipe, out of the Southern Living Cookies cookbook. The dough tasted funny, like I didn't have enough vanilla or sugar but I put it in the fridge as instructed anyway, hoping that the cool would improve the taste. Usually sugar cookie dough is pretty tasty. Later, when I began to make the oatmeal raisin cookies I promised to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, I couldn't find the butter I set out to soften. It was nowhere. Finally, I looked in the trash can. Four butter wrappers were in there. Were they the two from the sugar cookies and two from the muffins I baked for Annika's class snack yesterday or had I put four in the sugar cookies? I just tasted the dough - definitely too buttery. I'll let you know if we bother to salvage the dough.

The moral - don't cook while on the phone and feeding the kids at the same time.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Not the Same

We watch the Tom and Jerry show a lot. It is on Boomerang. Annika loves Tom and Jerry.

However, the OK violence on Tom and Jerry does not seem to translate into acceptability for other genres of mayhem. Not when you are 3 1/2.

We had the great idea (NOT) of watching "Home Alone" last night. Not only did it take forever for the madcap escapades to begin, when Macauley Caulkin's character finally started giving the Wet Bandits the business, Annika began to cry. Screaming and crying.

Let that be a lesson to you. It will be a while before we watch "A Christmas Story."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Killing Me Softly

Why, oh why, do I ever second guess my gut instincts?

In an ongoing matter in which we are trying to get governmental approval, I sent the third requested addition to our file to them WITHOUT using certified mail, return receipt requested. The agency responsible for this approval does not allow the use of UPS or FedEx so I had been sending everything by certified mail from the Post Office. It costs $5 a pop, but it gives me proof that they got what I sent.

Except this last thing. I was in a hurry because that day was one of my office days and I thought that it was more important to get it sent than to wait another day. How wrong I was.

I got the letter today which says that they still haven't received what I sent and also requests another new item. Sigh. I knew that I should have sent it certified and that I also should have picked up some certified mail forms while I was at the post office on Tuesday. I talked myself out of it with the idea that I wouldn't be needing them anytime soon. Anyone who has ever tried to corral a kid while trying to fill out those darn forms understands how much those would have helped me.

Oh, and - my kids are sick. Dagny has an unidentified virus that the doctor charged me $40 to say was a cold and Annika has an ear infection that caused her to barf in my car on Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Boobs

So, I frequently check out the scary photos on this site and it makes me wonder - if celebrities make their livings by looking good, have stylists to help them look good, and spend seemingly unlimited time and funds to spend in the pursuit of looking good, then why do their plastic surgeries look so bad?

Is it that they are not giving enough thought or investigation to their surgeon or the viability of the planned procedures? Or is it that plastic surgery just doesn't work very well?

I don't know.

I do know that there was a whole thread on a running board that I frequent in which one lady was asking for advice on how long recovery would take and if breast implants would impede her running. You'd be surprised how many women and how few men were in favor of the implants. Personally, I thought that boobs were a hindrance when I had them (during breastfeeding) so I don't see what the big deal is. Foundation garments have come a long way - there are even some with implants sewn inside. Everyone is different, though. The boob lady probably thinks I am a weirdo because I'm still running from the fat self.

Speaking of which: I ran 4 miles on Sunday. In a row! It's a new world record. I'm still following Doug's advice and aiming for 10 minute miles, which seems to be helping the knee. I have faster miles in me, but they will have to wait. Doug kept the girls so that I could run around the path at the elementary school in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day and I had a marvelous time despite the first mile that was 9 minutes (oops) and forgetting my headphones. I listened to the gravel and leaves crunching under my feet and practiced my work presentation while I ran. Multitasking is good.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Good Luck Nat!

As I jumped over to The Negative Split to check on Nat, I was sad to see no new post. However, I remembered that this is her marathon weekend. Good Luck Nat - you are going to kick ass at the OBX Marathon!

When I grow up, I want to be like Nat - smart, svelte, stylish, grounded and really really fast. : )

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Booty-licious

I was going to include this in the "in other news" section of the previous post, but decided it was too long.

Dagny and I went for a run today at the park during Annika's dance class. We had just enough time to do the 5K loop. My knees troubled me at several points during the run so I had to walk more than three times. I attribute this to one of several things: (1) it was cold, (2) I forgot my knee brace, (3) I ran yesterday, (4) no warm-up, (5) my first time on hills since the doctor visit, or (6) running too fast. Or, maybe my knee just isn't better - but I really really don't like that option so I can't put it on the list of possibilities.

Just about everyone that I've ever seen at the park is nice. I used to run there while Annika was in school before I had Dagny. The other walkers/runners wave, laugh, slap hands and generally enjoy themselves. This is a good place to run - very uplifting.

Today I scared the crap out of a couple who were walking their dogs because I yelled "wheeeee!" as we turned the corner to go up the big hill past the lake. These walkers were not expecting sound effects during their route, so I apologized as we passed them on the way up the hill. They didn't mind since I had the cute Dagny bundled into the stroller. I got about 1-1.5 miles before the knee started complaining. Knowing that if I ignore the complaining I will come up lame and have to limp rather than speed-walk, I dropped down to the walk at several times during the rest of the run. I was either walking really fast or my running was very fast because I finished the 5K in about 32 minutes which was the pace I was aiming for. Doug has thoughtfully set the virtual training assistant on my Garmin to pace me for 10 minute miles. He also reminds me to go slow before I go out the door.

Anyway, as we were on the home stretch, coming up the sidewalk hill past the elementary school, I had to walk AGAIN. I probably let out a groan as I shifted into walking gear. It really hurts my feelings to have to walk. As I motored up the hill, a young man who was run/walking with his wife and baby came trotting down the hill. As they ran past me (going the other way), he said "this hill is called butt-cheek-hill." I chirped "it sure is," with a smile and continued on my way. Inside, however, I was cursing and screaming about how I could kick that hill's behind if it weren't for my stupid knee. Stupid knee.

Etc, Etc

Here is a photo of Annika and Dagny on our way to the neighborhood playgroup Halloween party. Note the difficulty we are having in keeping Dagny still. Annika is Belle (from "Beauty and the Beast," in case you are not Disney-rrific) and Dagny is a puppy. She adores this costume and carries it around like a stuffed animal, giving it kisses. We had to cut Annika's dress off after the party because we discovered during the many games of chase that it tripped her up - even with her running shoes on.

As you can see, the other photos are from Rome. I am standing on the step at the church at the top of the Spanish Steps. We bought the giant bottles of water before we realized that you can drink (and everyone does drink) the water out of the fountains located all over town. The only explanation we heard, and we heard it several times, was "it is good - it comes from the mountains." It was good, and cold too.

I chose this photo because I thought I looked good (which is saying a lot because I'm not so photogenic), except I've just noticed that my legs blend into the pillars supporting the railing on either side of me. It just goes to show you that I'm still haunted by my fat self that I feel the need to explain that my ass is not as large as all that.

The last photo is of the pope at the Wednesday Papal Audience in St Peter's square. We are standing on rickety plastic chairs with our backs to the basilica so you can see the beautiful fountain in the center and some of the columns from the "arms" leading up to it. Pope Benedict is doing laps of the square in the pope-mobile (minus the plexiglass). As you might imagine, everyone was pretty excited to see him and there was a lot of jockeying for position as we tried to track his progress on the giant video screens that flanked the steps of the basilica.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Plans, Interrupted

I had planned to run in a race this morning. Virginia and I agreed that we would run in the William's Run in Alpharetta today to try for Peachtree Road Race qualifying times. Unfortunately, my knee had other ideas.

Plan B: I was going to run in the 5K race and cheer Virginia on in the 10K. My mom was going to take care of the girls and maybe even watch the race. But, alas, my sitter for the evening's dinner club got invited to homecoming and had to bail on me.

Plan C: Mom was going to keep the girls for the dinner party, but didn't want them for the whole day. Fine, we emailed the race organizers to see if they needed some volunteers. If we couldn't run, at least we could be supportive. They didn't need volunteers so we were free to spectate. Talked several friends into running also so we had plenty to cheer for. Annika had a fever all day yesterday and it was cold as balls this morning. When I went to wake her she asked if she could please sleep longer. No race for us.

Camille ran her first 5K and came in second in her age group. Natalie won her age group. I'm certain that Virginia got her qualifying time. We baked pumpkins and made pumpkin pie. Annika has eaten nothing all day. I exploded condensed milk into my hair so I have to shower again before taking Annika to her friend's birthday party. That exploding milk (due entirely to my own stupidity in forcing the can open when it clearly didn't want to open) necessitated mopping the floor also, so a shower would really be a good thing.

The good news is that I have two very nice smelling pumpkin pies on my counter and there is still time for a shower after wrapping the birthday present. And, I ran 3 miles this morning without having to walk. That's 9 miles this week, which is nothing compared to my marathon-training friends but is a huge improvement over the crappy run/walking I've been doing. No wildlife this week except for some bunnies and the crazy newspaper guy who tried to run me over this morning.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I Learned Shut Up

The way a child acquires language is a mystery to me. I always thought that the spoken words would be only a little behind the receptive words but apparently I am wrong. Dagny can say about three words: "uh-oh", "Deddy" (teddy or Daddy, depending), "Ah-ya" (Annika). She also appears to understand the word "no" though she doesn't obey it.

As I was dressing Annika for bed last night and putting on her lotion, Dagny was getting in the way (and the lotion) and was holding one of Annika's shoes. So, I asked her "could you please put Annika's shoes in the closet". She moved in that direction, so I repeated myself - more than three times because it was keeping her out of the lotion. But she did it. She put the shoes in the closet. We clapped and praised her and exchanged high-fives. The child is one - I had no idea she actually understood what I was saying when I said "yes, that is your shoe" "shoes go on your feet" "Annika's shoe" or some other inanity during diaper changing, dressing or preparations to leave the house.

Which makes it all the worse that I told her to shut up yesterday morning. She was screaming, as she is wont to do in the post-dressing, pre-breakfast moments and I was trying to get Annika's breakfast together because she was starving (see previous post about not eating any dinner). At the same time, I was trying to get her bottle made and I lost my marbles, just a little bit. I promised myself I wouldn't be like this - this screaming freak-out mother. I'd like to blame it on the working or on the messy kitchen or on the too much to worry about, but really it's just that I'm not doing such a good job sometimes. This morning was much better, by the way, no screaming from anyone.

But that doesn't negate the fact that I told my sweet child to shut up. And Annika saw it. I confessed to Doug as I was relating the shoes in the closet tale and his eyes grew large with horror (and this is a man who says "fuck" in front of the kids). Better to say fuck in front of them than to say the bad stuff TO THEM.

Just so you know I'm not a big plagarist, I'm continuing the song lyric/title/play on either of these as the title of each of my posts. I Learned Shut Up is the title of a 5*8 album. They are the first band I ever saw in college, at the Downstairs, opening up for Roosevelt and they are the least appreciated really great band I've ever heard. They are still in heavy rotation on our i-pods.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Orchids Eat Proscuitto

My sister calls Annika "the orchid" because she seems to exist on air alone. The child doesn't eat. We beg, we plead, we cajole - nothing. I threw out the entire lunch (hummus, cheese and apple slices) that I packed for her yesterday, she ate none of dinner (delicious pork chops from Rachael Ray cookbook and brussel sprouts) last night and she admitted to eating one bite of the granola bar and yogurt that I sent for lunch today.

However, Doug is making pizza a la Romana for dinner tonight. He went to Trader Joe's (which has recently opened near us) and bought some lovely proscuitto and mozzarella. He was slicing it up in preparation for dinner and brought some down for us to taste. I was doing some work in the basement and Annika was watching Sesame Street. Anyway, she brought me a bite (as instructed by her dad) and proceeded to eat THE WHOLE PLATE of meat and cheese. Then, she joined Doug upstairs for more. Who knew the proscuitto would be so popular?

Dagny ate the heck out of the pork chop AND brussel sprouts. She will eat anything and whenever she puts anything in her mouth, she says "umm". Clearly this child takes after me.

In other news, back on the running train after a week off. I ran 2 miles in front of our house (painfully boring) and walked another one because my knee was giving me twinges. The stupid exercises that I'm doing to strengthen my muscles and limber my IT band came in very handy in Italy, though, because most of the potties were the "sit without touching" variety and I was able to hover with ease.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Return

We are back.

Doug and I went to Rome last week to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Dagny stayed with my folks, Annika stayed with Doug's folks and our friend Christa took care of Annie. All on the homefront was uneventful except that Annie peed on her bed twice and ran out of food. She didn't ACTUALLY run out of food because I had food - it's just that no one knew where it was and I forgot to tell them. Luckily Aunt Katie bought some from the vet and brought it to Christa.

We had a fabulous time on the vacation. We walked miles and miles every day, stopped at everything that looked neat, drank too much wine, ate lots of delicious food and generally enjoyed ourselves. We even got to see the pope. I don't know if I would recommend the pope visit, especially for a non-Catholic, because it took the whole morning (and we arrived only 30 minutes early and left after the homily - it was not a Mass) but it was certainly interesting. Nuns jockeying for position and grammies standing on folding chairs - like a rock concert. We lost one of our credit cards, but the bank quickly cancelled it so it was not a big deal. We walked an additional 3-4 miles that night going back to get it at the restaurant (where we had apparently not left it) but that was OK because it enabled us to process that second bottle of wine better so as not to be hung over the next day.

I can't put the photos up because the cord that connects the camera to the computer is missing but Rome was lovely. It is just amazing that you can see so much history in one place. A good trip. Doug was (as usual) the master trip-planner. He arranged the travel, the hotel, the food, made reservations for stuff. I got to be the sidekick. It was lovely. : )

Friday, October 13, 2006

Cool Stuff

So, I've not been able to run much. In fact, I'm reduced to running laps back and forth in front of my house where the road is flat. I don't know how far it is, but less than 1/3 of a mile. Thank goodness for the i-pod or I would be bored stiff. Here is the cool stuff:

1. I've learned that all of my neighbors get up at 5:45/5:50am. The first school bus comes at 7, so that makes sense, but it was really interesting to see the lights come on one by one within minutes of each other.

2. When I run in Doug's time slot, I see NO CARS and at least 4 other runners. How cool is that?

3. Last week, I saw a coyote. There have been rumors about coyotes in our area and we've heard them howling, but while I was walking on my warm-up, one trotted right across the road. They are not as big as you'd think and definitely not interested in me.

4. I also saw a giant white rabbit one morning. He also had some brownish/blackish patches and ran across the road in front of me. Doug thinks he is an escaped pet because our neighbors saw him the following evening.

5. Unrelated to running, we saw a horned owl this week. He was in a tree by the lake and had caught something for dinner. Unfortunately, we scared him away but he was really neat.

6. Also unrelated, Annika LOVES to fish. The fish in our creek like proscuitto, not bread, and some are pretty big. We throw them back in - just so you know.

7. I can do 3 miles of the "flats" without a lot of pain. I have the soreness, but not enough to stop running - which is a HUGE relief. Those leg exercises that the doctor gave me suck.

In other news, Dagny turned one, started walking and can say "Dada" (meaning Daddy or dog) and "Ah-na" (meaning Annika). She is very demanding and wants to know where Annika is at all times. Annika is not thrilled with this development - she is more pleased when we can play outside while Dagny naps. There is a possibility that I might start to work more hours in the new year. It's still just a discussion, but we shall see. . .

Friday, September 29, 2006

Good Intentions

Today I was going to finally find the cord and upload photos to the computer and write a nice post. Unfortunately, I managed to fritter my time away with the following:

1. pushups/situps but no running
2. email checking and check writing
3. breakfast
4. shower and dressing
5. making breakfast for girls
6. taking out of garbage/recycling
7. diaper changing
8. bank depositing
9. grocery shopping
10. grocery putting away
11. emergency agreement for a guy at work
12. annoying emails from a jerk at work (not the same person)
13. making lunch
14. online billpay (which is not updated and better as promised by our bank)
15. eating lunch
16. cleaning up lunch
17. diaper changing and new outfit application
18. returning of bins to the garage
19. shopping errand for my folks
20. driveby of their house
21. visit with Doug before he golfs
22. putting Dagny down for her nap (this was the appointed time for photos or at least butt-sitting)
23. making cookies with Annika
24. making cool flan cake that Anna wrote about last week
25. freaking out when Annika touched her mouth to the raw whole eggs
26. further freaking out when Annika licked her lips during freakout #1
27. two phone calls with sister-in-law
28. clean-up after Annika peed in her pants
29. putting Annika down for her nap (no story)
30. kitchen cleaning from baking endeavors
31. sighing at the mess that I forgot was made in the office while I was doing #10

Guess I'll clean up that mess now and get some photos done later. The cooking extravaganza and inviting of sister-in-law's family for dinner is an example of what Doug calls my "putzing". I've noticed this tendency when I'm worring about getting something gone - I add other things to the list so as to make myself as upset and crazy as possible. Examples: cleaning out Annika's dresser and mailing snapfish photos (old ones) to friends while I tried to pack for the beach trip.

In running news, I visited the Orthopaedist yesterday. They x-rayed me and examined but concluded (as I already had) that my knee problems are due to the IT band. It's good that nothing is badly wrong, and they gave me exercises to do and a plan for still doing my race. Obviously, I won't be in top form, but it is better than quitting.

Friday, September 22, 2006

New Shoes

We went to the sale at Coggins today and got new shoes for both girls. Annika is our little Imelda - she digs shoes. It was Dagny's very first pair of shoes, since she is preparing to walk any day now. Very funny, though, that her feet are nearly as wide as they are long.

I'm sorry for the lack of posting. The endorphin shortage is really getting me down, so I haven't had anything nice to say.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Damn Lie

So, all of the weight loss magazines and advice columns say that walking burns just as many calories per mile as running but it takes longer since you aren't going as fast. They are liars. Liars, liars, liars.

Since I hurt my knee, I've been run/walking or just walking instead of running. Keep in mind that I am walking as fast as I possibly can and running when my knee doesn't hurt. Regardless, according to my Garmin, I burned approximately 225 calories (one darn cookie) when running 3.25 miles at an 8.5/9 minute per mile pace. For the same route at an 11.5 minute per mile pace, I burned only 60 calories (one starburst). Yes, Garmin might be wrong - and he probably is, a little.

However, in my completely non-scientific and un-controlled experiment of one, I've noticed the same thing. When running the 9-12 miles per week, I can eat whatever I want (within reason), consume multiple beers and snack on nuts several times daily and still lose weight. While walking, I've cut down on the beer and limited the nuts, but now I'm gaining. I'm not so worried about the weight - big deal. If I would resist the snacks and eat more fruits/veggies, I wouldn't gain anything but what a disservice this hype does to those who are really trying to lose! It makes me hate the dieting "know-it-alls" as much as I hate the childbirth ones. Bastards.

Oh, and - the endorphins. Not being produced so much with the walking, as you may have noticed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Some Things You Can't Photograph

Some things cannot be photographed, especially if your camera doesn't capture motion very well. What? That camera was supposed to be better at capturing subjects in motion? Guess I'll have to read the instructions again!

I tried to take pictures of Annika preparing "Hachi Hachi" for us last night. First, she set up with the window behind her (back lighting = bad), second, she moves really fast and lastly, I can't find the cord that hooks the camera to the computer. It's been that long since I uploaded photos. oops. There was a lot of set-up as she took two trips from the basement with her plastic shopping cart and returned to get the pinchers, the tea set and various other items. This was good because it gave Doug and me time to finish making dinner.

There is a local restaurant called Hachi Hachi which specializes in Japanese steakhouse cuisine - spinning egg, clanking spatulas, volcano, fire, the whole nine yards. We don't actually go there as there is a good place around the corner called Sake Steakhouse. However, the name Hachi Hachi is very catchy so that is what Annika calls it. On Saturday during the UGA game, Annika decided that she would make Hachi Hachi for Doug and our friend Virginia. She removed the following from her pretend kitchen: plastic spatulas, a knife, egg, "cookie", tongs - she calls them "pinchers", plates, cups, ketchup bottle and Dagny's stacking rings. She proceeded to cook the entire meal with her ingredients - she spun the egg, squirted the ketchup to make fire, stacked the rings to make the volcano, and tapped her spatulas on the table the whole time.

I learned of this extravaganza when she came upstairs to get some shrimp. We don't own shrimp, real or pretend, so I tried to give her some of Dagny's interlocking rings. No dice. Rings are not like shrimp AT ALL. After she melted down, Doug came upstairs and explained the situation and retrieved the tupperware full of leftover popcorn. Eureka!

Annika ran downstairs and completed her cooking with the "shrimp" and threw it into everyone's mouth with her spatulas. Annie appreciated all of that nice popcorn on the floor.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Whole New Era

So, Dagny might be going to school (mother's morning out) next week. I have to ask them some questions about it at the open house this week and we may have to wait until after Christmas, but that will be fine. I had thought that she was too young because she still naps twice a day.

Well, I was wrong. Yesterday, Dagny skipped her afternoon nap and possibly also her morning nap and was FINE. She chirped at us and played with her toys on the kitchen floor while we made dinner and was perfectly happy until she got hungry. She put all of the toys into a box, shutting the lid in between each addition and then took them all out and began again.

Today, I skipped the morning nap in favor of a trip to Camille's pool. My theory was that if we were going to skip a nap, it was better to skip the morning one. We were in the car during prime napping time, but Dagny didn't sleep. She got a bit tired at the pool and promptly crashed in her carseat when we left at 1:30, but that was at 1:30 and after swimming. Right now, she is playing on the floor next to me (I brought the box down here - she is putting Annika's paper dolls inside) after having only slept for 2 hours. It's hard to believe that she is already becoming a little person, old enough to play independently and go to "school". Amazing.

Sorry, no photos - Doug has the camera in his car so I've not taken any pictures since the sticker incident.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Better Than You

When I was in school, Doug and I noticed that every group of people (club, sports team, group of students) we encountered seemed to want to have another group of people to look down on, to be "better than." The folks who weren't going into the corporate world thought they were more virtuous than those who were "greedy money-grubbers" while those who were doing the corporate thing felt superior because they were getting jobs with more prestige and benefits. The exercisers felt superior to the couch potatoes while the non-exercises felt superior to the shallow and vain. The liberals felt they were smarter and kinder to others than the conservatives while the conservatives felt that they were more smarter (funny how they both thought that!) and more realistic than the liberals. It's a difficult fight for us (big us, not just me and Doug) not to seek out ways in which we can deem ourselves superior. I fight this in my daily life - it's hard not to sweat the "idiots" when I am foiled again by the other drivers or the lazy behind who must have the closest parking place or at the post office or the shipping place.

Anyway, I know I fight this tendency and yesterday I heard a comment about "Sunday Catholics". Now, we've all heard or made the snippy comments about the only-on-the-holidays-church-goers, but I've never heard anyone look down on the folks who show up "only" every Sunday. It just goes to show you that EVERYONE fights the urge to deem themselves the "good one". Maybe we'd all be a little happier if we tried to find the goodness in everyone else instead of searching for the chinks in their armor that we could use to deem them less than us.

However, all of this niceness is ignored if you are in front of me on my run because I have to beat you. I might think nice things about you after I pass you or while failing to pass you, though. : )

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Gross Dog Story

This story is gross. You have been warned.

So, Doug and I went out for a fun evening on Saturday to the Hsu's dine-around with a group of our buddies. We visited Silk, Hsu's and Pacific Rim. The food was delicious and we met some neat folks and I had a great time despite being the designated driver. There was much pre-date prep to do (during which I burned the skin off of my bikini area, but that is another story), but I was dressed, primped and ready to go when Doug left to pick up our babysitter. I went around the house laying out jammies, turning on movies and picking dinner items . . . until I got to the kitchen.

In the kitchen, I discovered that Annie had pooped all over the floor. Apparently she had some kind of distress and walked during her pooping so there was poop everywhere. SIGH. I grabbed a roll of paper towels and the Clorox wipes and got busy. After I picked up the first (and biggest) pile of poop, I noticed what appeared to be a booger in it. That is not unusual for Annie, but then I noticed that the booger was moving - verrrrrryyy slooooowwwwwly, but moving. Shudder - that's right folks, tapeworm.

Imagine my joy to realize that the dog has been dropping tapeworm segments for who knows how long (maybe not too long since they allegedly examined her poop at the vet on Tuesday) and Dagny has been crawling all over the floor putting anything and everything in her mouth. UGH! And the vet was closed - not to reopen until Monday! Plus, the cleaning up of the poop, the disinfecting and the mopping. By the time Doug got home, I was sweaty and had to return upstairs to de-stink. Horrible.

Annie has had her medicine now, and is hopefully worm-free. Luckily I am up-close-and-personal with Dagny's poop a lot so I will know if she has any worms on board so we can kill them.

In other news, I have recovered enough from my knee injury to run uphill so I've been doing the loop running uphill and walking downhill (40 minutes, approx 12.5 minute miles). My half marathon training is all shot to heck, but at least I can run SOME of the way. I'm going to the running shoe store today with my birthday coupon to see if some new shoes will help me.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dagny Showers

Dagny had her first shower this week. After our trip to the Piri-Piri Chicken place, where I was doused with hot sauce (FYI - this is not usually part of the chicken experience), I decided to kill two birds with one stone and bathe Dagny while I washed the hot sauce off.

Dagny LOVED the shower, and giggled whenever I put her under the spray. She didn't even mind when I turned her upside down to rinse her hair. It got a little dicey when I soaped her up (soap is slippery, you know), but was a success overall. It will be even easier when she can stand up by herself and I can put her down! Showering with a baby requires some forethought, though, to lay out the jammies, towel, diaper, etc. - otherwise the whole bathroom and bedroom get wet.

In other news, I got a delightful surprise this week when trying out the Archer Farms Coffee Pods in our Senseo coffee maker. Doug bought me the Senseo a few years ago for my birthday so that I would be able to make myself coffee in the morning without waking Annika and without brewing a whole pot of coffee for just me. We keep it in the basement and so far it has been very good. The pod supplier that I had been using is either gone or ignoring me, so I've been buying Maxwell House (surprisingly bad) and Folgers (not so bad) pods at Target. Then, last week, I noticed the Archer Farms pods and they were they same price as the others so I picked them up. Since this is Target's store brand, I wasn't holding out much hope for them but they are really good. Hooray!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Where Oh Where Have My Endorphins Gone?

This morning, after we ate our breakfasts and got dressed and did some laundry and I cleaned up where Annika's pull-up leaked AGAIN, the girls and I headed out the door on the way to the vet. Unfortunately, Annie chose that moment to chase the non-waving jogger down the street. Then, as I chased her with Dagny on my hip and Annika took a break to pick mushrooms in the yard, Annie proceeded to take a large poop in the neighbors' yard.

We aren't really friends with this neighbor. I think she means well and the family is pleasant enough to our faces. However, while Doug was building our house, she called the city a lot to complain about us so we don't hang out with them. Anyway, I had to go and retrieve the poop - even more than I would have if it had been any other neighbor. Luckily, our newspaper comes in a bag - very convenient for the poops. I left my phone and the newspaper in the driveway and ventured across the street to get the poop. At this point, Annie refused to come to me and instead chased another walker down the street - she did stay in the yard, though.

I did the best I could to scoop the poop into the bag with my non-Dagny arm and keep it out of Dagny's reach. Unfortunately, the pile of poop was larger than our newspaper bag so I got most of it on, if not in, the bag and carried it home to get a new bag. My shouted instructions to Annika to help me by getting a new bag amounted to dust in the wind - the woman walking by at that point just smiled knowingly. Armed with the second bag, Dagny and I headed BACK to the scene of the crime in time to see Annie harrassing yet another walker with his two dogs. He laughed at us, but kept moving and luckily Annie was too intent on peeing all over the yard to follow them. Crisis averted.

I managed to clean up the rest of the poops and the mushrooms, Annika claimed to have washed her hands with soap and we headed to the vet - sweaty and makeup-less. Now we are back home for Dagny's nap and I have made the executive decision that we are going out for lunch - like that will be easier. . .

Maybe my knee will feel good enough to walk tomorrow so I can get in a better mood.

In other news, have you ever noticed that Jafar (the bad guy from "Aladdin") looks a lot like Prince? And also that Captain Hook (from "Peter Pan") does too? Except that they look bad in a bad way and Prince, well, you know.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Walk the Line

3.22 miles this morning in about 40 minutes - 13.3 minute miles (approx). I ran up about 4 hills, but with tiny baby steps and not for very long at a time. I've done a lot of research on the knee issues this week and it looks like I need to have a support band on my "bad" knee so that I don't compensate with my other knee and I need to do more strength training on both legs. So, that will be OK. I won't get to do my long run this week - and it would take too long to walk it, so I will probably go super early and walk on Sat and Sun. It will suck since I have to be home at 5am on Sat for Doug to leave, but it's better than nothing.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Out, Out Damn Tooth

Dagny is teething again (her top left front tooth). That darn tooth is trying to come through and it must be causing her a lot of pain because she is causing the rest of us a lot of pain. Tantrums, screaming fits, waking early from the nap for no reason . . . Annika got a little crabby when her teeth erupted, but nothing like this. Stock tip - buy stock in whoever owns Tylenol because we are using a lot of it this week!

In other news, I hurt myself. Since I started back running in 2001, I've had a "bad" knee which is (I think) an overuse injury or runners knee. That darn right knee pains me a lot and gets sore if I run too much. So, I've been very careful to not add mileage too fast, which is why I'm still doing the 13-14 mile weeks instead of more. However, this week I think I ran too long after I was tired or broke form as I grew tired because I've hurt the OTHER knee. So, a week or more of reduced running (very slow, walking down the hills) is in my future. That and some weird stretching exercises, leg raises and possibly a date with my pal Billy. Depressing - walking around the block does not give the same endorphins that a run does, plus it takes a LOT longer.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Minimum Wage

There is an item on Neal Boortz's website wherein he makes the assertion (paraphasing) that unless they have a physical or mental disability, any adult who is trying to support a family on minimum wage is a loser. Apparently, there has been a lot of backlash to this statement from folks on the other side of the political spectrum.

So I was thinking about all of the crappy jobs that I've had, from gas station cashier to waitress to pizza maker at which I worked for minimum wage or less, and I think Boortz might be on to something. If an employee gets a minimum wage job in a regular business (fast food, retail, whatever) and shows up to work and actually works, they will get a raise. In the non-documented labor market, the going rate for babysitters in our area is $8-12 per hour and the rate for day-laborers is $9-10 or more - both well above the minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. Frankly, in our area, I don't know that there ARE any minimum wage jobs - even fast food places pay more than minimum wage in order to attract workers.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Never Say Never

I swore I'd never be that woman - the one who feeds her kids macaroni and cheese and hot dogs instead of fruits, vegetables and decent food.

However, in the midst of trying to get the stuff together for the church consignment sale and a work crisis and my mother-in-law on the phone (volunteering to keep my kids, bless her), I made an executive decision. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We had hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and cantaloupe for lunch. Both kids and mom ate like truckers and felt much better after all of the drama.

I don't feel so good now (hot dogs are not my friend) but the stuff is ready for the sale, the crisis is smoothed, the girls are in bed and now I can concentrate on paying the bills.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I Kick Ass

Due to the extra day of running last week because I was on the girls' weekend and the long run today because my girls were at Nana and Papa's house last night, I ran 17.2 miles this week.

So, technically I only went 13.9 (if I subtract the extra day), but that is still amazing for me. And the bad knee only hurts a little bit. Ice, ice, baby.

At this rate, I may actually make it to the half-marathon by January. Holy shoes, batman. Some realizations from this week's run: (1) cotton socks = bad for long runs, (2) Publix has good bathrooms, (3) stashing the water somewhere on the way "out" for the "back" part of the route is genius, (4) other than technical fabrics (maybe), there are no shirts that won't chafe me.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Earthquakes

Another couple that we know is splitting up. Wow, it just feels like an earthquake to me. I was trying to fathom the reason it feels that way and all I can come up with is that I grew up afraid that my parents would divorce. They are (and always have been) more vocal in their disagreements than the average couple but I don't think they would ever actually split. I worried about it a lot, though. My sister was afraid the house would burn down and I was afraid that mom and dad would separate.

Maybe it's the Catholicism or maybe just the childhood fears, but it really rocks my world when people end their marriages. Somehow it makes all other relationships feel that much more tenuous to me.

Interestingly, however, when my college buddies and my sister split from their spouses, that was not upsetting at all. Perhaps I was able to write that off to the fact that they had crappy spouses (which they did, not that I am biased or anything).

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hollaback, Girl!

This morning, only one of the people I met on my run responded to my wave and cheerful "Good Morning." I suspect (it was dark because of the clouds this morning) that the non-waver was the woman who never waves and runs as if she were in severe discomfort. I wrote this woman off as an unfriendly person several months ago because she won't ever wave or respond to me. However, apparently the woman does wave - to Doug!

Add this anecdote to my experiences of this weekend. I got to run two days because Natalie, Camille, Lissa and I were on the girls' weekend in Hilton Head. Needless to say, I was jubilant on my run - the road was flat, I wasn't having bottom issues, I had unlimited time and my tunes were good. So, I waved, smiled and said good morning to anyone I met on the path. Without exception, every male person smiled and waved or said hello back. Women, even if they were in the company of their smiling spouse and kid, acknowledged with only a wave or grunt - no smiling. I started to notice this pattern and made it a point to make eye contact with everyone to test the theory - same thing, except for a few other running women who appeared to be having as much fun as me.

What is up with the women? Maybe they are intimidated? I can't believe that because although I don't wear much clothing to run because more clothes equal more chafing, (1) I have no boobs, (2) I flatten what miniboobs there are with a compression bra, (3) my tummy has housed two babies so it jiggles and hangs over my waistband more than I care to admit, (4) I have no makeup on, and (5) I sweat like a pig.

Are women just unfriendly to each other - why? Why NOT smile and wish everyone good morning?

By the way, that last 23:06 around the loop - that's a post child #2 record (not a world record, but still). : )

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Good

So yesterday I was at the office and someone asked how I was. "Good," I answered and cringed inwardly because I know that "I'm well, and how are you" is the grammatically correct answer. And then, of course, if I really told them how my project was going . . .

So that reminded me of Yvonne. When I was a freshman in college, I roomed (random draw, obviously) with a girl who was my total opposite. She was vivacious, cool, the life of any party and lots of fun. Yvonne was the definition of a magnetic personality. People called nonstop to hang out with her. Whenever anyone asked how she was (regardless of the real answer), she always answered "Good!" It was a good lesson for me - "How's it going?" is not a real question. People don't want to know the answer. They don't want you to say the grammatically correct "I'm well, and you?" - they want to hear "Good!"

Does that mean that I put on a smiley happy face all of the time or that Yvonne did? No, but it does mean that sometimes it is worth the effort to smile and say "Good!" because at the end of the day, most of it really is good.

In other news, I might have set a world record around the block (I'll have to search the archives to see if it is true): 2.8 miles in 23:06 - 8.25 minute miles. That last 0.2 miles up the hill after that to get to three miles really sucked, though.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Wherein I Try to Take Photos

In this post, you will notice several attempts to take a photo of Dagny and Annika smiling together. They seem to smile together regularly enough, but I cannot seem to capture it. It may be time to call in a professional.

Dagny has begun pulling up and is terribly frustrated that she can't walk yet. She is a fast crawler, though, and can cross the room in seconds. Luckily, she only wants to be where Annika is so we can contain her that way.

Annika has gotten mouthy of late and told me last week (after we left Chik-Fil-A because she threw a screaming tantrum) that if I wasn't nice to her I wouldn't get to go to tennis. At least she understands the idea that there are consequences to bad behavior - it shouldn't be too hard for me to convince her that the behavior she needs to worry about is her own . . .
We 've not been to the pool much because of Annika's many camps and my working but next week Annika has some lessons so that should be fun except that some stupid mother scheduled the lessons during Dagny's nap. Oops.

In other news, I ran 12.5 miles last week with the 6 mile run on Sunday.
It was surprisingly easy except for the tummy thing and Doug and I are enjoying logging our mileage into the computer now that we are both "wired". I was surprised to learn that it is 0.1 miles longer to go around my loop "Doug's way" than to go my way.

My running book tells me that optimum racing weight for my height is about 105-108 lbs. HA! I choose to believe that I am a mesomorph (and therefore immune to the "goal race weight") because I seriously think I would become ill if I were ever that thin. I'm hoping for a better training run tomorrow and less knee pain so that I can add a mile next week.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Race Training

So, I signed up for a race - a LONG race but not the big one. I started training this week after the Peachtree and ran 6 miles on Sunday. I thought that it would be tough and grueling but the weather was nice and cool and I didn't need extra water or anything. Doug said that he was not surprised - he knew I could do it. Gotta love that guy. I wasn't very fast but that is because I made the mistake of eating (very delicious) steak for dinner on Saturday. Steak + running far = great discomfort. And my new running book says that I should be running at 2 minutes slower than my 10K pace which works out to about 10 minute miles, which is about how fast I was, including the walking..

Dagny learned to crawl last week. She is fast! She is trying to pull up on everything and doesn't like to be confined. It's a whole new world over here. And, she can say "woof". It sounds like "ffff" but if you ask her "what does the dog say?", she says "ffff".

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Are You Out?

Yesterday, as we walked to our car from our lunch outing (Annika walking and holding my hand, Dagny in the stroller), Annika remarked, "Mommy, I'm out of kisses." So, I gave her a bunch of kisses and asked if she felt better. "Yes," she replied, "but now you are out of kisses." "It's OK," I said, "Dad will give me more when he gets home." Apparently, I've not been able to convey the message of limitless kisses yet.

Anyway, we continued our walk for several minutes because I had parked very far from the door - seeking shade. Poor Annika was tired - probably I should have carried her while pushing the stroller. As I stowed the diaper bag and stroller and buckled Annika into her carseat, she suprised me with more kisses and said "now you aren't out of kisses."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Take the Dumbass Running

I ran in the Peachtree Road Race today. Thanks to Mark and Robin for the bag of ice - it was marvelous!

Even after fortuitously meeting up with Virginia to run in our time group and discussing about how I always mess up and forget to push start on my watch, I apparently had the watch in the incorrect mode when I pressed start. Therefore, here is what I think my time and splits were (with notes, because I tried to piece it together as much as possible):

Start time: 7:38am (I was in the 30,000s/time group 3 - got this number from my Uncle Mike who was in the same group. Any better info, let me know)
Mile 1: 9 minutes (approx - I completely missed this mile marker)
Mile 2: 9 minutes (approx - it was 7:56am)
Mile 3: 9.5 minutes (approx - missed this mile marker also)
Mile 4: 9.5 minues (approx - still hadn't fixed the watch issue)
Mile 5: 9:12 (actually timed this one)
Mile 6: 8:04 (same - Doug says to kick it in the last mile)
Mile 0.2: 1:42 (finished at 8:34am)
Total Time: 56 minutes

So, it is possible that I was bit dehydrated and loopy because I missed seeing mile marker one. Then, after I thought to myself "darn this is really a long first mile," I saw mile marker two and thought it was wrong. Then, I looked at my watch and it said 7:56, and thought "wow, I ran that mile way too fast". Then, about 5 minutes later, when my watch said 8:01, I realized the watch error. What a mess. I had fun though and the race was relatively painless. Our meeting spot was not there so that caused me great anxiety in the 1.5 hours that I waited for Doug and Tina (they were in time group 8). OK - maybe there was only anxiety for 1 hour because I sat in the shade and ate my Odwalla bar and tried to work out my splits (in chocolate) for the first few minutes. Luckily Doug wore his acid green shirt so I found them right as they finished. : )

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Three Times a Lady

Annika and I had our hair cut on Wednesday. She had her hair washed in the sink instead of just sprayed wet in the chair. She told me ahead of time that this was the plan - she's a big girl now.

So, armed with the new haircut and styling knowledge, I blow-dried my hair for work on Thursday and Friday and again yesterday to go to the party at my parents' house. Three times? That is equal to the number of times I've blow-dried since Annika was born (in 2003). Maybe, just maybe I can make a little more effort in that department.

In running news, I did my last training run for the BIG RACE today. I was very worried about my conditioning because I hadn't made the time to do any longer runs yet - 3.3 miles was the longest. This morning, I did the loop and then ran to the house my parents are buying and back - 5.2 miles. Here are my mile times (approximate based on where I thought the miles ended): 9:23, 9:15, 8:53; 8:03; 10:43. Clearly that last mile split was incorrect - should have been more like 9:25 for each. Doug had said all along that as fast as I can do the loop, the 6 miles should be no problem but I needed to prove it. I'll be much more relaxed on Tuesday knowing that the distance is within my capability.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Band-os

So, I've not let this information slip before, but I used to be in the band. No, not a band, THE BAND - the marching band in high school. It was very illuminating and ridiculously time-consuming but also a great community. I quit after sophomore year because I thought that I would be cool instead of in-the-band. Why mess with fate? It's my destiny to be un-cool.

Anyway, Annika has displayed an interest in the marching band because they practice outside the high school in the fall and we see them when we drive by. Last year we watched a few practices and Jen and I took her to see the Battle of the Bands at the GA Dome. We had hoped that it would be the "march off" of the black college bands (like in the movie "Drumline"), but it was just a "play off". Still - it was great fun and good family entertainment. Those bands rocked the house - too bad we didn't get to stay for the finale, which was the drum-off. The trash-talking was hilarious!

My friend Lotzie called this week to say that the Drum Corps International southeastern region championships will be at the Dome next month. If it fits in the calendar, a bunch of us are going. I'm also going to be on the lookout for the black college march-off because that would be so great.

Oh, and there is a band curse. In addition to the heavy wear on the outer edge of my shoes (from the glide-stepping), I must get in step to all music - even while running. So, if you see my on my jog and I'm skipping and hopping, just know that I'm trying to get the downbeat on the right foot.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Test Your Citizenship Knowledge

Here is a link to an MSNBC quiz to test your knowledge of the questions on the citizenship exam:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13442226/

Due to some expert guessing, I got a 90.

The Emperor's New Dry Cleaner

So, I always wondered about the dry cleaners - whether they really tried to clean the clothes or not, because it seemed like they weren't actually washing my clothes. Granted, I'm a sweater, so my clothes need to be washed more than the average girl, but . . . I thought I was just going to the "wrong" cleaners because they would come back stinky.

Recently, my current cleaner (which I really like) gave me a beautifully pressed shirt that had dried baby food on the cuffs. If they WASHED it before they pressed it, wouldn't the baby food come off? I think so. I've often noticed the lack of washing with the dry-cleaned items, but I thought that the shirts (cotton, button down) and slacks were at least laundered. NOPE. What is the point of the cleaners if you have to wash your shirts before sending them so you can spend $4 ($0.98 for men) for them to iron them. Stupid.

I'm going to have to make time to iron, now. Ugh.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Reciprocity

Doug is a firm believer in reciprocity (said with the same tone as Big Daddy says "mendacity!" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). Reciprocity, karma, what comes around goes around, etc. . .

Anyway, when I worked at the law firm, we had to keep track of our hours so that our clients would be billed for the time spent on their cases. This was very difficult for me because of the many times I would interrupt work on one matter to answer the phone, answer email, talk to someone, work on another matter or look up something. I would forget to write down one of the starting or ending times and then have a hard time piecing together my day. Then, when I worked for the company, there was no billing (pshew!). Now, however, my contract says I must bill for my time every two weeks.

Reciprocity, baby.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More Fun

There is a hilarious post on Cookie Madness today. You just have to read it. So cute. : )

Since I am solo parenting this evening and Doug's sister still has Annika's book of DVD movies, I decided to take a page from Doug's book and head to Blockbuster to get some children's movies for tonight and the weekend. NOTHING was in stock so Dagny and I left disappointed. We will try another store during the after-lunch happy time. Those of you with babies understand that we can only do errands during the happy time. Anything else results in screaming. Happy time is precious.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Noodling and Running

In the last two days, I've read an article about urging me to be my "best" at everything I do and also discovered that a friend from college is a member of a secular religious order and leads pilgrimages to Italy in his spare time.

The article hacked me off because I am defensive about doing too many things and nothing terribly well, and then I just felt inadequate when I read about the religious order. Am I doing enough to be a good mother to my girls? Am I doing enough work on my non-office days? Am I supporting Doug enough in his work? Am I keeping our business and house affairs in order? Am I doing enough to be a good catholic? (probably not, since the priest remarked to the deacon after we said hello at church on Sunday, "who is that woman? I've never seen her. Does she come to church?")

I don't have the answers. It's easy for me to think that I'm doing plenty of things and doing them well enough. Then again, it's a sure bet that I could be doing more, but better . . . maybe not so much. It's easy to exhort others to do their best, but really I think it boils down to choices. There are only so many hours in the day - maybe I can make better choices on what to do with my hours.

In the non-noodling section, I made a new post-Dagny world record for around the block - 23:42 (8.46 minutes per mile). This was due to some good tunes and the fact that I had to catch up to and pass "the running lady" who was in front of me on my first big hill.

Friday, June 16, 2006

No Sugar?

So, I've been keeping up with the very cool lunches on The Vegan Lunchbox (currently out for summer break) and have learned some neat recipes and food ideas. The lady that writes the lunchbox is currently writing about her battle to kick sugar on her personal blog using the Eat to Live plan. I think my link to the personal blog might be to the comments, which is fine because I've been thinking a lot of things along the lines of what vibrantredhead said.

I've got nothing against anyone who wants to eat healthier or more nutrient-rich food; a diet is a personal thing. However, at what point does a diet cease to be about the food or the body and become a "lifestyle"? Less and less people are going to church these days and more folks are embracing alternative food strategies. Coincidence? Is it really so different to omit all sugar, salt and gluten from your diet on the advice of one doctor than to hear a sermon from a priest, minister or rabbi and then sacrifice meat/tithe/fast/etc?

I'm not saying that I eat the healthiest diet or that I even know what that would be, but it seems to me that so many people (especially those with books and/or memberships to sell) are willing to tell us that they have THE ANSWER and it has to do with complete rejection of various food types. And people buy in because we are just looking for someone to show us the way.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What Kind of Fool?

Annika has camp this week so on my non-office days, Dagny and I are on our own. Today we trekked to Sams Club for the essentials. $300 later, we will never run out of dishwasher soap, liquid dish soap, trash bags, formula, black ink for the printer or chicken breasts. Unfortunately, we were already stocked on all of the listed items except the formula and the chicken. We needed colored ink instead, but I can pick that up when I return to Sams Club for diapers and wipes next week.

Anyway, as if the ridiculously "not what we needed" shopping weren't silly enough, I discovered (after I removed the poopy diaper) that my diaper bag contained NO DIAPERS. So, Dagny rode home commando.

One day I'm going to get it together.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Good Week

This morning Dagny's first tooth came through. You can't see it unless you peer into her mouth, which she detests, but it is there. It's hard to believe that she is old enough for teeth!

I ran three times last week - 8.4 miles not counting warm-up/cool-down walking. This week, I will abandon efforts to go faster and start to add distance so that I can finish the Big Race in three weeks. After that, a different training method may be in order.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Teach the Children Well

A friend of my youngest sister is in professional school at my alma mater. This past year someone in her class posted on her blog a diatribe about her professor - using vulgarity and generally being ugly. As Emily related her friend's description of the prof, I realized it was someone I knew and respected.

I've been thinking a lot about this incident (long past, now) but how do you teach your kids to have respect for others and behave like good citizens? Yes, lead by example, but my parents tried to do that and I was still self-absorbed, shallow, and immature. How much "life-wisdom" can you tell your kids and expect it to sink in?

Education has been a hot topic amongst the moms lately on our forum and on Dogwood Girl's blog. Seems like we have all had the crappy teacher or professor here or there, but no one ever says, "hey - I learned a lot from Dr. X or Mr. Y or Prof. Q". So, I may not have learned much of the subject at hand, but following are the names of some folks who gave of themselves and taught me something whether I wanted to learn it or not:

Bob Brussack
Paul Kurtz
Kathleen B. Adams
Heather Biola
Michael Wells
Neil Nichols
Ray Phillips
Brown Russell
Ken Simpson
Dorothy Lewis

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Glamorous Life

Some glamorous tidbits so you can share in the excitement:

1. A shopping trip might be required (SIGH - I hate shopping) when you have to touch-up your shoes with magic marker before going to work.

2. If your laptop keeps overheating and freezing up, pencils under each corner will help it stay cool. Pencils are better than pens because they have sides and don't roll around when you type.

3. Smoothies are not so hard to make and are a good way to use up the berries going bad in the fridge. Annika is not convinced.

4. When eyes are too tired for contacts and glasses are required, the sunglasses can be applied directly OVER the regular glasses.

5. Magic marker mentioned in #1 comes off if you have to chase the dog across the dew-soaked yard.

6. My parents are thinking about moving into our neighborhood. It will be good, I know it will.

Not so glamorous, but very fun news is that Dagny appears to have learned to sit up by herself. I did not see it happen, but when I went to get her out of the crib, there she was - smiling at me.

Annika has roseola so she feels crappy and we can't go anywhere where little kids might be. I know I've said it before, but I really don't mind staying home except that it is hard to get errands done. All of the rush-around pressure is gone.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Another Cool Blog

This afternoon, Doug and I watched the Pillsbury Bake-Off on the Food Network while the girls napped. The lady who won has a cookie blog where she posts recipes (and photos) of all of the goodies that she makes. How cool is that?

On the running front, only two days of running this week. That's a grand total of 5.6 miles, not counting warm-up/cool-down walking. Very disheartening. I'm getting concerned that I won't be in-shape enough for the BIG RACE that is coming up in July and the longer race that I wanted to attempt for Thanksgiving, forgetaboutit! While I wasn't running, I found a lot of cool running blogs - you can find them here. Since I'm really turning into Vera and the bake-off made me cry, I felt free to post lots of encouraging comments to the other bloggers.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Tacky

Today was my first outing alone with Annika since Dagny was born. Since the party was during Dagny's nap, I called our favorite high school sitter and off we went to a birthday party at Monkey Joes. It was great fun; we slid down every slide, went through every maze, and jumped to our hearts' content. I am whipped and will be sore tomorrow, but I think Annika had a good time and enjoyed the one on one attention.

After the party, we went by the bank for cash and then to the Loft to buy Grammie a birthday present. Our errands completed, we breezed into Learning Express to browse the toys before heading home. As Annika perused the wind-up toys by the register, I noticed large plastic bins full of toys on shelves above the counter; they were labeled with kids' names, ages and the words "wish list". No way, I thought. Since my transformation into my mother is nearly complete, I turned and asked the total strangers next to me, "are those registries for kids' birthdays?" "Yes," they replied. Unable to contain myself, I blurted, "oooohhhhh, that is TACKY."

Now, I'm not Emily Post or any kind of arbiter of style or manners, but how disgusting that people create a birthday registry for 4-6 year olds. Frankly, I'd rather not have kids obligated to bring our kids gifts to their parties at all, but a registry? Gross. It's ugly enough that we do stuff like that for weddings, but I can understand the whole "creating a new household" theory. There is no excuse for a kids birthday registry.

All the more reason to stick with our neighborhood toy store, which has all of the same toys anyway (plus the cool Melissa & Doug toys) and gives me personalized present advice instead of the "two-year-old toys" signs. And, they have snappers, which, I learned while searching for a link to describe them, are legal in Georgia. : )

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I've Been Under the Desk

I've been under the desk to plug in the camera, so here are some photos from this weekend and this morning. I'm going to try to edit them as Dorothy explained last week, but don't hold your breath.


Sophie and Dagny live it up at the pool on Saturday. I have many photos of Dagny stealing the toys from Sophie. Once upon a time, I was an opponent of bikinis for babies - now, I understand that there is a difference between a "bikini" and a "two piece" and it's WAY easier to change a diaper if you can remove only the bottom half of the outfit.

Shelley sees me and comes to the top to see if I'm going to drop any pellets into his bowl. He knows who is in charge (NOT!). Annika named him - we don't know where it came from. Probably the same odd imaginary place as "Dogarita", Dogarita's Daddy "Annie" and the two Joses, one of whom is Dogarita's baby sister.

Bettas are meat-eaters and prefer live prey. Unfortunately, poor Shelley gets Betta pellets instead of live anything; he seems to be enjoying them just the same, though.

Annika can be seen here brandishing the illegal water gun at the pool on Saturday. That's right, not only did I get busted for bringing my own water in (who doesn't bring their own water everywhere they go?), but water guns are now outlawed. Fight the power Annika.








Dagny was thrilled to be at the pool even though we weren't anywhere near getting in or even in swimming attire yet. This was her first visit to the big pool ever. She LOVED it. She rode in the inflatable boat, walked around in the baby pool, put her feet in the mushroom fountain, allowed me to throw her into the air and bounce her all over the pool. Then she napped like a champ so I could do the mountain of laundry we just created.

The Fish

No, not the bottle that Doug and Mike used to drink out of - our new pet, Shelley. Our friend Mark is selling Betta Bowls and thus now we have such a bowl and a fish who lives in it. Not that I wanted any other thing in our house whose well-being is my responsibility, but Annika loves him and so he stays. I'll post a photo this afternoon.

Anyone who thinks that fish are somehow less smart or less "animal" than other pets (I'm thinking in terms of eating them, here) is wrong. Shelley comes running to the top of his bowl when he sees me. He knows that I am the keeper of the food.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

First Day Back

Today was our first day back in the neighborhood pool. It has been open for a few weeks now, but I've managed to keep that fact away from Annika. But today, there was no stopping us. After 30 minutes of prep (sunblock application, bathing suit application, food packing, toy packing, towel hunting, etc) we finally got to the pool.

Annika had a great time and even jumped off of the diving board (with Dad). Dagny enjoyed her first dip in a pool but cousin Sophie was not convinced that the pool was a good thing.

Photos later. We are all too exhausted to get the camera hooked up.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Caveat

So, I was thinking about my previous post while Annika and I were showering this morning. I don't think that I made it clear but I'm not trying to say that everyone must have children to be happy.

I'm just saying that I'm glad that I did - it has made me a better person, much like being with Doug makes me a better person. However, everyone is different and children might make some folks stressed or crazy or whatever or some just might not feel the need for them and that is perfectly OK. Everyone makes their reality with the roads they choose (or don't choose) and the important thing is to accept and enjoy the road you're on. Or, as my Grammy would say - "bloom where you're planted."

Lifestyle Change

I have some friends who are wrestling with the decision of whether or not to have children. They all love the children, but are concerned about the lifestyle change that will come with a baby.

All I can say is - the lifestyle change is huge. I never imagined that I wouldn't be able to stop at Starbucks, enjoy my newspaper, or take a jog - that the time to do these things would be a luxury. I never realized that I would miss working - the talking to adults, the feeling important and useful and the money. I didn't think that I would look back on my pre-pregancy body wistfully and couldn't fathom that pregnancy and childbirth would make parts of it not work right. I've never felt so adrift as when we were trying to figure out how to get Annika to eat or sleep - our lack of knowledge and confidence was so humbling. I didn't know that children would stress my sanity and our marriage in monumental ways.

However, now I stop at Starbucks when I feel like it and when it fits in our day. It's a treat for me and for Annika. I read some of the paper during meals or while the girls are napping and I run early in the morning or not at all. I figure that I will fit in the exercising back in soon - now that I'm getting more sleep. I'm working again, and it is fun but it is also a stress - packing the three of us up for two meals and all day is a lot of work, so I appreciate the freedom that came with not working. The intellectual stimulation and the money provide a different kind of freedom. I've resigned myself to the need for sturdy and expensive foundation garments at all times and we are still considering whether I'll get the repair surgery for my bottom. Doug and I have developed a system of days/nights "off" that works for us so that we don't resent each other. I'm doing much better at appreciating what Doug does and not wishing he would do something else and not spouting off whatever my raging hormones are making me think. Yes, things have changed here. We can't travel on a moment's notice and lately I've been cleaning up an awful lot of pee.

But I wouldn't go back to my old life now that I've met my girls. Even when they are sick or whiny or defiant, they are still a joy to be around and I'm so lucky to be able to watch them grow and learn new things. And the hugs and kisses! What I'm saying is that my life is different now, but it isn't changed in a bad way - yes, I have less free time and yes, I have more chores and expenses, but I have so much more.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Slip n' Slide


So, anyone who can tell me how to manipulate where the photos show up in the blog will be treated to free dessert. I picked the photos in order so that you could see the progression of Annika trying out the Slip N' Slide and changing focus to "here are some flowers, Mommy" but alas - you will have to take my word for it because the photos are all out of order. And, the photo of Dagny's first time in the "real" swing which I was saving for last is stuck right there in the middle. Thanks Corinne, for the beautiful purple sweater which was required by the cold snap last week.

The Slip N' Slide was on sale for $7.99 at Target last week, so I thought - AHA! Perfect toy for Annika to play with while Dagny and I watch. Little did I know that instruction in the art of Slip N' Slide was required. I told Annika how to crouch down and spring forward onto her tummy with her arms out like Superman - nothing. She kept putting her knees down. I realized that she doesn't know who Superman is so I demonstrated (fully clothed) but managed to not get soaked. No dice. I finally had her lay on her tummy on the slide and then I pulled her quickly down the slide and let her go. That worked quite well until she got water in her eyes. Then, Doug showed up and told Annika to slide down "like Superman" (we think alike). He finally picked her up and slide her body down the slide (more like a throw), which also worked great except for the water in the eyes - hence the sunglasses in the photos. They work like goggles. Next time, all goggles-all the time. In a fit of desperation, I gave Annika the full-on demonstration - in my clothes (much to the amusement of the golfers going by at the time). It was really fun, but she was not convinced and that is why there is a photo of her bringing me flowers to distract me from the stupid Slip N' Slide.

Oh, and - I think she is allergic to grass because her eczema went crazy that afternoon and even her feet broke out.