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.