Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Marathon Mom

Let me say this off the bat: I completely brought this upon myself. I have no one I can blame. I placed the curse upon myself.

I had the gall--the gall, I say!--to think to myself, "Wow, after the last action-packed marathon, this marathon will really give me nothing to blog about. I know all the ins and outs of the marathon. I know the tricks. I'm fully prepared. I'll have nothing to write but, 'I ran my second marathon and I had a time of XXX.'"

Which is how I jinxed this marathon.

Let's start with the sinus infection. I was feeling probably 80 percent better. But that didn't bother me as much as the words of my doctor, which kept running through my head. "You may not feel healthy enough to run. You may not feel healthy enough to run. You may not feel healthy enough to run." The power of positive thinking right? Yeah, right.

Then there was the missing registration card. The ING site said, "All U.S. registration cards will be mailed the week of Oct. 13." So I waited. And waited. No card. Where is my card? The card that is essential for getting my race number at the expo? No card. Then, the week before the race, an e-mail arrived that read, "If you didn't get your registration card in the mail, you can use this e-mail," which leads me to believe they didn't mail all the cards out. Okay, that's all right. Taken care of.

Then I called the hotel to confirm our reservation. Oh, they had it all right. For twice as long as we had intended on staying. Thank goodness I called because they had us down as arriving on Thursday. Can you imagine how thrilled I would have been had I shown up on Friday only to find that they not only charged my credit card the $358 for Thursday night but had since given away our room?

I printed out my registration card and took a good look at it for the first time. There I was. Yep. There's my name. That's my age. It's me. But wait? No bus pass? I know I signed up for a bus pass as it's the only reasonable way to get to the start line! What a pain in the neck. I've got to make sure to remember to buy a bus pass at the expo instead of nicely and conveniently having it printed on my bib number.

I know, I know. You're thinking, "This really isn't all that big a deal. You were stressing over nothing." Which would be true if it weren't for the final thing. The ultimate jinx. The voice-from-above "I gave you plenty of signs you shouldn't run and yet you ignore me" jinx.

I took a closer look at my registration card. I noted my bib number. Last time I ran my bib number was 47474. A nice high number because I had put down a very slow predicted race time. No biggie. But this time my race number is W409. That's odd. Did they change the numbering schematic? And then I look one more time. There it is on the side, in all caps. "WHEELCHAIR START." Um, hello? HELLO!!!! I DON'T THINK SO!

While it certainly provided much fodder for the household banter ("Do we have plans for next Wednesday? I want to go out for dinner with a friend." "Well, I suppose it's okay. I'm sure I'll have managed to navigate bathtime in the wheelchair by then"), it turned me into a stress monkey. Which in a way was good, because I wasn't stressing about the race itself. I found myself being extra careful when I ran because I was convinced I was going to break a limb. (Again, the voice from above: "You wanted a wheelchair start? Well, I'll give you a wheelchair start!") My husband was convinced it was no big deal and they'd fix it at the expo but I was pretty sure they were just making me go to the help desk to publicly humiliate me and strip me of my running shoes.

As it turns out I was right in the first place: there really isn't much to blog about the marathon. My sister was correct when she told me, "All those jinxes were good! You got all the bad stuff out of the way and now you can run a great marathon!"

The trip to New York was hunky dory. The kids were well behaved and, except for that smell that began to seep out of Pie's diaper around New Rochelle, the trip was uneventful. We gave a ride to another runner, and Adam dropped the two of us at the Expo center on our way into town Friday evening. What a difference a day makes. Whereas last time, when I went on Saturday, the lines snaked out of the building, on Friday evening we walked right in. I went to the "Solutions Desk," and they did indeed solution my wheelchair problem. Hallelujah! It's a miracle! I can walk again! In fact, I ended up with a lower number (when I signed up, I think I predicted at 4:45 or 5 hour marathon and I knew I could do much better than that) and she asked me which color I'd like to start with. I didn't have a preference and she said, "I'll give you blue. That's a good one--you start on top of the bridge." And then she gave me a bus pass! How sweet was that? I was able to actually enjoy the rest of the Expo.

And then: Sunday. I woke a zillion times in the night (didn't help that Doodles was crammed between me and Adam, with his little head shoved into my side and his feet under Adam) and I finally got up at 4:55 a.m., five minutes before the alarm. I got dressed and headed to meet my friend to hop the bus to the start. This is definitely the most tedious part of the marathon--just waiting for the start. We took a 5:30 bus but the marathon didn't start till 10:10. The sun was just starting to come up when we got off the bus at the start in Staten Island. We had to split up, because she had a seeded number (she told me later that she got distracted at the start, because she looked up and over to the other side of the bridge, and there was Lance).

So I waited. And waited. And waited. Used the portapotty a bunch. Got some Tylenol. Drank a lot of tea. Jumped up and down trying to keep warm. Had a little massage. And I waited. And waited. Finally it was time to line up. We started to move up before the gun went off and sure enough the bathrooms emptied out. I was actually able to run in and be out in time to hear the starting gun. With my "low" number (if 30012 can really be considered low), it only took me ten minutes to cross the starting line. I decided to hang out with the 4:30 pace group. I really had no idea what my speed would be--hard to tell in training what you can reasonable sustain over 4 1/2 to 5 hours. My goal was a 4:45 marathon. My stretch goal was a 4:30 marathon. My don't-admit-it-to-anyone-but-what-I'm-really-hoping-for goal was a 4:22 marathon.

I kept with the pace group in the beginning, but realized I found it distracting. I wasn't paying as much attention to the crowds and the music and the scenery because I was so focused on keeping up with the group. I also found the run to be much, much denser this time, and I exerted way too much energy weaving in and out and around people. It was a tad claustrophobic. I made friends with another woman, Kelly, and we chatted and ran together for a while, but I soon discovered if I ran just in front of the pace group, it was a little less crowded.

My first goal was my family at mile 11. Unfortunately I didn't know which side of the street they'd be on, so I slowed down from the pace group so I could get a good look. My right knee started to bother me, but I decided to ignore it. At about 11 1/2 miles I spotted them. Doodles was day dreaming and even though I screamed his name about 12 times, he barely saw me. Pie was asleep in Adam's backpack. And I just kept running. At this point, the miles were coming fast and furious, just melting away. But about halfway over the Queensboro Bridge, my knee really started to bother me, to the point where I feared I might have to drop out. I considered stopping at a medical tent, but told myself I'd go just a little farther and think about stopping at the next one. I started to walk through the water stops, and that helped considerably. By this time the pace team was ahead of me, but I just kept a steady pace and around mile 18 or so, I had caught up, and by mile 19, they were definitely behind me. At mile 20, my sister was waiting for me with a friend. "My knee hurts!" I told her. She replied, "Just keep going! Keep running!" so I did.

Around this point, I was relieved that I had broken through the wall. I knew I was going to have the energy to sustain me to the end, as long as my knee held out. But this is also the point where each mile doubles in length. The miles were no longer melting away, but sloooooooooowly stretchhhhhhing ooooooouuuuutttt. I had to resist the urge to run faster, because five miles after 21 miles is still a long way to go. So I just kept a steady pace.

Once I hit 23 miles, I knew I'd make it even if I had to crawl across the finish line, so I let myself speed up a little. I would have liked to have sped up even more, but there were still so many runners on the course that it was difficult to navigate around them. I still walked at water stations--even at mile 25 (didn't want to collapse because of my knee in mile 26)--but I felt great. I powered through the end, feeling like a champ. Adam and the Pie were apparently at the end, at 250 yards, but I didn't even notice them, I was so in the zone. I flew through the finish line, clocking in at 4:25:07. Despite being three minutes off my dream goal, I was exceedingly pleased (remember, my only other marathon was a 5:19 marathon!). I feel confident that given a flatter, less crowded course, I could do it.

After the race, I gathered with my family and a close friend at my parents' place for pizza and wine. The next day I got my medal engraved, bought a finisher's shirt, and spent the morning at the Central Park Zoo. The ride back was fine except that the Pie was finished with it about 45 minutes before we were finished with it, which made for a painfully loud experience.

As far as body woes, my knee now seems to be fine. I have one very, very ugly toe (I tried to take a picture of it for all of you, but you can be grateful that it didn't come out well enough to really appreciate the black, bloody, bruised thing that it is) but I'm itching to get back out there.

So now? Now it's time to 1) recover and then 2) get back into training. After all, it's only two months, one week, and six days until the Miami Marathon! 4:22, here I come!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Just like Lewis & Clark

One of the things I like best about being a runner is exploring a new city on foot. Unfortunately, when I'm not training for a race, this luxury goes by the wayside. However, this summer's marathon training got me out for a fantastic long run on a recent trip to Louisville.

The Louisville Riverwalk runs 6.3 miles from downtown Louisville to Shawnee Park on the city's West End. The trail runs adjacent to the river for a bit, and then passes by working railroad tracks, through wooded areas, past parks and a golf course, and eventually ends up at Shawnee Park (which itself has a 1.3 mile running loop around its grounds). Along the path are various lists of river-related trivia embedded in the asphalt, which help take a runners' mind off the many miles stretching out before her. I wound up running just under 16 miles in perfect weather.

What struck me the most was that is was not very crowded, unlike the trails here in the D.C. area. On the way out, I could count on one hand the number of people I saw along the trail (which was, quite frankly, a little unnerving for a female running along). And, of the runners I saw along the trail, there were no other women. It wasn't until I got to Shawnee Park that I saw a woman running (with a male running partner). She caught sight of me, and began clapping, saying, "Yeah! A woman running! I like to see that!" It made me wonder if it was such an odd sight for a woman to be running in Lousiville.

Fortunately, on my way back towards downtown, I saw several female runners. I think most of them were with the Leukemia Society Team in Training group, but it was good to see them out there nonetheless.

All in all, it was a fantastic place for a run, and it cemented my love of running in Louisville (the scenic loop in Cherokee Park is a close second). However, it also made me grateful for the strength and diversity of the running community here in D.C.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Practice Makes Perfect

It's interesting- the more you run, the better you become at it, as is the case with most things. But with Pilates, the more you do it, the harder it gets. Therin lies the paradox (has anyone read Prep? I've been looking for a reason to use that last line. Need to remove it from my head and pass it on to you).
I guess the thing is, when you do Pilates, you learn how to do it better, and you focus on different things. You learn new skills so that you advance. Hmmmm...
I've been telling Harry lately that the more he practices something, the better he will get. Usually he believes everything I say. If he doesn't, he matter-of-factly says "Mommy Do It." He doesn't get hung up on the fact that he can't, say, wipe his face with a napkin (even though he can). But, Harry does get excited when he perseveres and succeeds. "I did it!" he says with a sparkle in his eye.
I suppose, as with Pilates, life will get harder. I was thinking Pilates was the exception to the rule, but I suppose not. I just never thought about it.
While watching a Baby Einstein DVD a few years ago, I realized a Solar System is named such because the planets revolved around the sun. My brother-in-law, a science teacher, was appalled that I didn't already know this. Perhaps I did, but it doesn't come up in my day to day pharmaceutical research.
Another thing I learned today, while watching Franklin, is that sometimes people get mad at you, but that doesn't mean they like you any less. I'll ignore the fact that this may indeed change as we age. I will pretend that it is true: everything we need to know in life, we learned in kindergarten.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

And Already It Begins...

I get Doodles out of the house and to Target by telling him he can pick out a new lunch box that he’ll take with him to preschool. He’s psyched for the idea, and all the while I’m shopping, he’s asking, “Where are the lunch boxes? Can I get my lunch box now?” I say we’ll get there soon and I remind him that Sweetie Pie will need a lunch box too for the Tiny Tot room. “Can I pick out her lunch box?” I shrug, and say, “Sure!” Sweetie Pie is babbling away in my mei tai carrier and doesn’t seem to mind the idea.

So, we make our way over the lunch box aisle finally, and they have *the* cutest dinosaur lunch boxes. I quickly move Doodles past the Spiderman, Batman, and the like lunch boxes.

Me: Wow! Look at this! Are these the coolest lunch boxes or what?
Doodles: They’re dinosaurs!
Me: They are dinosaurs!
Doodles: I want a dinosaur lunch box!
Me: I think that’s a fabulous idea. Would you like the orange one or the green one?
Doodles: Um, the orange one.
I pull the orange one over.
Me: Look! Do you see what kind of dinosaur it is?
Doodles: Is it a triceratops?
Me: Yes, it is! That’s very good, Doodles.
Doodles: I want to pick Sweetie Pie’s lunch box.
Me: Great idea. Do you think Sweetie Pie would like the green dinosaur?
Doodles wrinkles his face in distaste.
Doodles: No. Sweetie Pie wants the Hello Kitty lunchbox.
Let me interject here and ask: How the hell does my son know what Hello Kitty is!!?!! Okay, back to our story:
Me: I really think Sweetie Pie would like the green dinosaur.
Doodles: No, the Hello Kitty lunch box.
Me: I think the green dinosaur is the baby sister dinosaur. Don’t you think Sweetie Pie should have the baby sister dinosaur?
Doodles starts getting upset: The Hello Kitty lunch box!
Me: I have an idea! Why don’t we get you the Hello Kitty lunchbox and we’ll get Sweetie Pie the dinosaur lunch box!
Doodles: No, I want the dinosaur. Sweetie Pie wants Hello Kitty.

Now I’m debating with myself. Do I get the Hello Kitty like he asks for? (I can't find the lunch box online, but it looks almost like this.) After all, I did say he could pick out her lunch box. Or do I override him and get her the green dinosaur? I even contemplate buying both the green dinosaur and the Hello Kitty and then secretly returning the Hello Kitty when Doodles’s forgotten about it. Then I have an idea. After all, Sweetie Pie has my genes, right?

Me: I know! Let’s let Sweetie Pie decide!
Sweetie Pie is happily reaching for everything from inside my mei tai.
I hold up the dinosaur.
Me: Sweetie Pie! [lots of cheer in my voice] Do you want the neat green dinosaur!!
I hold up Hello Kitty.
Me: [voice goes lower] Or do you want this one?
Sweetie Pie looks at both. Her eyes start to sparkle and she gives a big smile.
Me: Look! Sweetie Pie wants the dinosaur! Here Sweetie Pie!
At which point Sweetie Pie squeals loudly with disgust, bats her hand out until it makes contact with the dinosaur, throwing it down on the ground, and grabs the Hello Kitty lunch box with both hand, cackling with delight.
Sweetie Pie: Eee! Eee! Eee!

I buy one dinosaur lunch box and one Hello Kitty lunchbox.

I’m a failure as a feminist mother. They’re going to take away my feminist credentials. Might as well buy those Barbies now and get it over with.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Tip to feel good about being a traveling/working/busy mom

When Harry was an infant, traveling for work was not as hard. In fact, it was nice to be able to relax for a night before rushing home. I have been hoping when he is older he will understand and maybe even appreciate my travel. I figure our phone calls will be more productive, he can fax me his homework to review, I can leave him notes in his backpack...But 2 is hard. At 2, he just wants Mommy to be home. Actually, he wants Mommy to take him to the beach. (I want to go to the beach too!) So, feeling guilty (and a bit lazy) and not wanting to catch a 6 AM flight to Atlanta, I sat down at Harry's desk and picked up a crayon and wrote him a letter. The extent was "Good Morning, Harry! Love, Mommy!" It included pawprints, happy faces and flowers. I am told after finally finding it on the floor in front of him, he went and wrote his own response to me (across the front of the letter of course!). I can't wait to see it. And if the letter didn't serve the full purpose of letting him know I was thinking about him, at least it was a distraction!

Oh- and running 4 miles on the treadmill helped me sweat out some guilt too!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

first day of school

I dropped Iz off for his first day of "school" -- a summer program in town that meets two days a week for four hours each day. One of the days is called"Mothers' Day Out", the other the "Early School Program." The former concentrates on holidays and social stuff, the latter on school-like topics (colors, shapes, numers, letters). But the teachers, kids, and place are the same. The kids arrive, play with toys, do an art project, play outside, eat lunch, and again play with toys or go outside. Perfect for little Iz.

How to explain to a two-year-old kid who has never been to school what school is... Didn't matter. We arrived at the door and he took off without a backward glance. The Seasame Street theme helped (he pounced on a little plastic Elmo action figure).

I hovered a bit before I left. I wasn't worried that the teachers couldn't take care of him. But I did wonder if I should tell them that he doesn't eat a damn thing. I decided not to because it occurred to me that he might eat better around other kids and when those around him had no idea he is a pain about food. We'll see. I'll probably get a starving, exhausted child back at 1pm. Maybe then he'll start figuring the food thing out.

This school thing is odd. Now I have four hours and no work on my desk to get done (when I don't have child care for him, I have tons of work -- am I cursed?). Sure, I could clean some part of the house. Yes, I could clean and organize my office. Maybe tomorrow, when he goes again. Now I think I am going to exercise out back, then paint a bit (I'm still working on the big version of the Zamia Street house). Maybe, maybe, then I'll start in on cleaning my office.

Update: I received an "Iz has messed himself, please come and change him" call an hour after I dropped him off. You see, they don't do diapers, though they don't expect a two-year-old to be toilet trained, just toilet "aware." I sent him in pull ups to at least pretend he is aware. I ran over (okay, drove over), changed him, and left again.

The report at 1pm was that he been great -- not even cranky when he was tired (which the teacher said some of the older kids were). He is a rallyer when tired, as long as there are other kids around and toys to play with. But he didn't eat a damn thing.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

where have I been?

It all started when Iz fractured his foot on May 31. He climbed on a little square cafe table on our back deck. As I walked toward him and asked him to get down, he smiled that "of course I'm not going to listen to you -- in fact, I'm going to make the whole situation more risky" and walked to the edge of the table and jumped.

Not off the table, but the table tipped, he flattened out on the table top, and the two hit the ground. Not very fast, not very hard, not very far. But it was enough.

The foot breaking happened right when I had a huge, unfamiliar editing job for a new client that I had promised to them by June 5 (I did get an extension until June 9 -- and just managed to get it done). I may sound selfish here -- believe me, I would rather make sure Iz was okay than do the editing job -- but the facts were that I had this huge job and had made a promise to a client.

Iz was a mess for a few days (understandably). The first night, he slept no more than 3 hours combined -- no more than 15 minutes at a time. The rest of the time he was crying -- ranging from hysterical to wimpering. I knew he was exhausted and drove around with him for an hour at 2 a.m. (Interesting out there on the roads at 2 a.m. We live in an area which has a high number of car thefts and I think I saw a car being stolen. But what was I going to do about it? Pull over and ask the three young men -- who were hiding their faces from my view -- what they were doing while my two-year-old screamed. Not likely. They were gone by the time I made a third loop down the road -- as were two cars.)

The type of crying seemed like the pain kind, but it turns out he was totally frustrated with the splint. Took us two days to figure that one out -- if we unwrapped the ace bandage, he fell right asleep.

Anyway... I snapped. I indulged in my own hysterical crying and rants that spiraled into hopelessness. (A complete mental breakdown? Hard to say.) I think I still have not recovered. I am questioning everything:
  • I love taking care of Iz, but should I put him in more extensive child care so I can get work done?
  • I can't imagine myself not working, but could I work much less and not be destitute?
  • Should I bag the whole idea of having a second child?
Maybe I'll recover and stop doubting everything.

Isaac is, of course, recovering (I was never worried that he wouldn't). He never had a cast put on because the first split gave him a huge blister -- and you can't put a cast on a blister (festering possibilities). So we can take off his splint, bathe him, stop him from screaming hysterically... And he runs around on the split like nothing is wrong. He calls it his "big foot."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


No, I don't mean Jen & Vince's pending engagement. I mean the second marathon I signed up for this October! I feel fine after running 1, so why not 2? I'll be seein' ya in Chicago October 22 and again a week later for my third Marine Corps Marathon. Hmmm. I REALLY better start training now. Anyone have any good suggestions for a 4 month training plan? ;-)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bert-day to you. Bert-day to you.

Instead of Here Comes the Bride, the tune I hear most frequently these days is Happy Birthday To You. I’m not complaining, really. I just find it interesting.
I realized the other day that this is the first year in the past 15 that I don’t have 1 single wedding to attend – at least none that I am aware of this late in the game. There were some years that we woudl attend 3 weddings in one weekend. 1 day we attended two weddings in two different states...and I was in one of them! But now they seem to have been replaced.
What I have now is a schedule full of toddler birthdays and birth announcements. They are fun. A social outlet, at least. I do miss cake that doesn’t turn my teeth dark green (Ninja Turtles) and sitting down to enjoy a meal. And dancing with my husband. But bouncing around the room with my toddler can be a blast...and don't you kind of wish everyone still lit up at the site of a balloon? It would make business meetings a whole lot more interesting!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I Will Make It There...

I ran the Covered Bridges Half Marathon on our vacation. First let me say, the name is somewhat of a misnomer. We ran over exactly one covered bridge. However we did pass another and regardless the scenery was absolutely stunning. What an amazing half. It's quite difficult to get into the race--they open registration in December and it generally fills the same day. I had my husband get online first thing in the morning to secure my spot.

I ended up running about 90 percent of the race with friends, which made it just fly by. At about mile 10 1/2, though, it started being not so fun. That always happens. I'm digging the race, in a zone, psyched just to be running. And then at some point, I realize, "Hey, I'm tired. I'm ready to be done." And then I just want the race to be over, which kind of works in my favor because it forces me to kick it to get the race over with faster.

Which leads me to my time. A personal half marathon record for me! My net time was 2:04:17 for a pace of 9:29 minutes a mile! Whoo hoo! Now it has me thinking, "Could I break the two hour half marathon?"

Anyway, we returned from a week's vacation with me kicking and screaming and not wanting to come home to, well, real life. I said to my husband, "Now what? Now what do I have to look forward to? We have no more trips planned."

Ah, but sometimes the gods work in your favor. And when I came home and downloaded my zillion e-mails, there it was: "Countdown to the start of the race of your life, November 5, 2006: 150 Days. Congratulations! You're in for the experience of a lifetime, the ING New York City Marathon 2006!" It's my do-over! I got a lottery spot in the NYC marathon!

It's completely rejuvenated me. And I'm really far ahead in my training this time around--already up to 15 mile long runs. I see a great race in my future. Anyone else out there doing it?

"Marathoning is like cutting yourself unexpectedly. You dip into the pain so gradually that the damage is done before you are aware of it. Unfortunately, when the awareness comes, it is excruciating." -- John Farrington, Australian marathoner

I guess I dig the pain.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Improving with Age

So my mind may be slowing, but my body is speeding up! I ran the Portsmouth Red Hook/Runner's Alley 5k last Sunday, and I kicked butt! About four and a half years ago, Adam and I ran a 10k together. I thought I did awesome then! Well, now that I'm practically 38, I broke my personal record:

535 (out of 1529)
42 out of 262 in my gender/age division
total time: 25:57
pace: 8:22 minutes a mile.

In just two short years, I'm in a new age division (and a "master's" runner. Yuck!), which means I might actually start to really kick some ass. Right now, my age division is 30 to 39, so I'm competing against those youngsters. When I'm running in the 40 to 49 year olds, I'll be the young 'un!

My half marathon is this weekend. I have a terrible time pacing myself on longer races--I tend to go out too hard and then sputter out at the end. I haven't quite figured out what my pace should be, although for 13.1 miles, I'm hoping to average a 9:45 to 10 minute a mile pace. Wish me luck!


We're now entering that phase that's so wonderful when Doodles's communication is getting to the point where he can really express himself and tell stories and let us know what's going on in his world. It was really exciting for me the day I walked into his day care and he said, "Come see the chrysalis!" and he brought me over to a net cage. He said, "We had caterpillars. They're now chrysalis." His teacher prompted him, "What will they be?" Doodles said, "Butterflies!" His teacher asked, "What kind?" Doodles said excitedly, "Painted lady!"

Sometimes he tugs at my heart strings. We're still having issues with Sweetie's sleep (will it ever end?) and the other day, I put her down. I was home alone with Doodles, so I was intermittently patting/walking/nursing Sweetie and then running back to take care of Doodles who also needed to get ready for bed. At one point, he stopped eating and he looked at me. "Sweetie is crying," he said to me. "I know, honey," I told him. "Can you make her feel better?" he asked me. Ugh! Don't I wish!

But there are also the really fun moments. Like last night. We were looking at his book, Things That Go, and I was pointing to different parts of a car, not sure which words he knew. Especially because of day care, I find that his vocabulary always surprises me, and he knows words I never would have expected him to know. So I pointed to different things and asked questions:

Me: What is this?
Doodles: A car!
Me: What color car?
Doodles: Blue!
Me: [pointing to the headlights] What are these?
Doodles: Headlights!
Me: That's very good! I didn't know you knew what those are. [now pointing to the side-view mirrors] And do you know what these are?
Doodles: [no hesitation] Ear lights!

Yeah! Does it get more fun than this?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Feelin' Good!

Wednesday I gave up coffee.
I have been dragging and I decided coffee may be the culprit.
I never used to drink the stuff. There are a lot of things I used to do and not do.
Anyway. No more coffee. At least not everyday.

Since giving up coffee, I am not dragging as much. In fact, I feel so good I decided that beginning tonight I am going to get 8 hours of sleep every night. I am even going to chart my progress.

I'm an all or nothing kind of gal - or at least, I used to be. Since getting pregnant 3 years ago, my health routine has been bordering on nothing. I was really sick when I was pregnant and the only thing that made me feel better was eating. Root Beer. Potatos. Cupcakes. I have given up the soda but not so much on the cupcakes and fries. Kick starting my regimine isn't working, so I am taking it one day at a time. Eventually, I will be back on track, rock hard and full of energy. That's my goal. Here is where you come in. What are your best kept secrets to feeling good? An apple a day? Vitamin D? Thai yoga massage? Pina Colada chapstick? Taco Tuesdays? Tanqueray? Let me know what works! I need to get moving. I bet I am not the only one!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Que es mas macho?

That would so be me. I am muy macho. Up here in eastern Massachusettes, we are having some MASSIVE rain. Sunday was not just pouring, it was ark-building weather. And yet, I had a race planned, a Mother's Day 5k and I was not to be deterred. Oh, I was a little disappointed because if the weather had been better, my whole family would have come to cheer me on and Doodles would have run his first race--there's a kids' fun run first--but I couldn't think of a better way to spend Mother's Day than a race.

But the clouds had their way and as I drove up, I was directed to the parking lot... where I was told the race was cancelled. The city asked the running club to cancel the race because flooding on the streets was so bad that cars needed to be redirected onto the race route. A few of us diehards were thanked for coming and we were encouraged to take a race shirt and partake of the baked goodies.

It was disappointing, but I felt a minor sense of accomplishment anyway, having shown up, which as we all know, is half the battle. It was going to be my first race since Sweetie was born (she's 8 1/2 months) and I was anxious to see my time. My running has improved so much of late, but I guess I'll have to wait until my next race (or rather my first race) on Memorial Day weekend. Which is fine. Just gives me that much more time to improve my speed!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Old School

As you may remember, I am a big fan of cross training. But, today I was being a super good runner. I walked to the gym and did my speedwork on the treadmill. I was all set to walk home when I got pulled into an Aerobics class. "It will be so fun!" I was told. I agreed and told the instructor I would likely stay for only 15 minutes. I stayed for the whole class! I felt like I was 13 again. Well, a slightly out of shape 13 year old, that is. It was a blast, though, and I have more spring in my run! It was weird to be in a workout studio with my shoes on and no yoga mat, but I have every intention if going back next week...and adding it to my marathon training!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Road Trip Season

I am on a teleconference at the moment. No clue what they are talking about. I do have a few ideas for my next vacation though. If you click on the link, there are a bunch of good ideas to use for road trips. And since I have to kind of listen to the call, and can't do anything too productive, here is my two cents:

Travel Games & Ideas for Toddlers:
Surprise packages Prepare ahead with paper bags of items to be given out every 25, 50 or 75 miles -- marked on a map with the location, it takes a little bit of preparation to do this but it REALLY helps young children. In each bag put a wrapped item -- usually a small toy. Then in some of the surprise packages you can add juice or a snack, stickers and a piece of paper, or something pertaining to the trip that you can talk about.

Hmmm...sounds like it will end up all over the mini-van. We take 3 hour trips regulary and I usually pack one bag with mostly large items such as books, etch-a-sketches, animals...NO STICKERS!

Travel Tickets
Use some colored construction paper to cut out some "tickets" for your trip. Give your child a pre-counted baggie full of tickets. Every half hour (or every 30 miles) they can turn in one ticket to you. When their tickets are gone, the trip has ended! This really helps young children get an idea of how much time is left on the journey.

Maybe for older kids...

Aluminum Foil modeling
Give everyone a sheet of aluminum foil. Have them mold it into anything they want: animal shapes, Frisbees, balls, jewelry, crowns, headband, necklaces. Be creative. Here's a link to article I wrote about more ways to have fun with aluminum art!

This one sounds like a great idea. And here is another addition: marathon blankets! You know those space age things you get after a big race? I stash them in my car in case I get stuck in one of those blizzards that pop up between DC and Philly unexpectedly. On a 1.5 hour drive on Easter, my 2 year old and my friend's 8 year old were entertained for an hour. 8 year old's little sister was left out if you have multiple kids, you are going to have to run multiple marathons so you have more than 1 blanket (or use wrapping paper or aluminum foil).

Teleconference abruptly ended and when I tried to spell check I lost my entire post.
So, in brief, review the link. They have some good ideas.

Also, please ignore any spelling errors. I am not editing again!

In closing, thanks to everyone who recommended a car seat to use on a plane. We ended up with a lightweight Eddie Bauer for about $50. Harry loved it, was good as gold on the flight and in cabs, and it his now his "thinking chair" to draw "Clue's" in. I also used an old $9 folding luggage cart that they used to sell at airports before people had roller bags. Worked like a charm!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

end of an era

A cliche for a title -- but I am so unexpectedly sad. Last night was my first night away from little Iz (who is just over two years old). He stayed with his grandparents, my in-laws. That was hard enough. (I knew they would take great care of him -- but it was odd and melancholy being away from him so long.) On the plus side, Abraham and I actually got to go running together without a jogging stroller or dog -- all by ourselves at 7 a.m. (because we were wide awake at 6 a.m. even sans toddler).

And, since Iz has now not nursed for two days, I have decided to wean him (seems like the only way -- though he may never nap for me again). And I am crying. No kidding. Tears streaming down my face, a few pathetic sobs. I have just left him in bed with his dad, who will do the getting him to sleep routine (he usually nurses to sleep with me -- yes, at two years old).

I don't really want a three-year-old who nurses (I may just be buying in to Western norms, but it seems a little odd to me -- and the kid needs to learn how to put himself to sleep sometime), but I have loved breastfeeding him. It has been easier than I expected; I never had much pain -- some soreness and odd breast changes early on. But easier than many stories I have heard and read. Since I had no idea how to wean him, this seemed like the only way. But I am so sad.

And tomorrow is my 35th birthday (I am not sad about that at all -- a fine age to be) -- and this is simply not a great present to give myself. But what else can I do?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Can’t we all just get along?

Sorry to use such a cliché in the title of the post, but this morning I had a truly mystifying experience on the trail. I was out running with one of my intrepid running partners on this glorious spring morning. The trail was, naturally, quite busy despite the early hour. Walkers, runners, cyclists, all sharing one of the recreational jewels of the Northern Virginia suburbs. As we approached a choke point (a narrow bridge), we were passed on the left by a faster runner going at a pretty good clip as two other runners were coming the other way, who were about to be passed on their left by a cyclist. The cyclist had to weave around the runner who had just passed us and squeeze between the two sets of runners. Annoying, I understand, but not atypical of a day on the trail. But as he passed us, he muttered under his breath, "f***ing joggers!"

Was that really called for?

I know historically there has been animosity between cyclists and runners, as they all share tight quarters in an attempt to avoid the exhaust fumes and road crossings of street running. And I know there are lapses on both sides, as I have been nearly plowed down by cyclists who think they're training for the Tour de France and my then-two-year-old daughter nearly caused a three-bicycle pileup when she got away from me at a pitstop on the side of the trail and ran into oncoming traffic. But, please. A little civility could go a long way.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Long Live Estee Lauder and Bras that Fit

Before I had a child, I was not old. Now I am. Granted, I turned 30 while pregnant, and that may have a little to do with it. Also, the weight changes. I, at least, am convinced that pre-baby I could walk out of the house with wet hair and little make-up and still look good for most of the day. Granted, I had a better body back then. That may have helped.
But, ladies, never under estimate the power of a good bra and some under eye concealer. Sure, it costs a little, but aren't we worth it? So, here are my tips:
  1. Estee Lauder Perfectionist is everything that it claims to be. Add a little bit of concealer and you will look 29 again.
  2. Yes, a good bra really does make your clothes look better.

I don't know about you, but mine are pricey (I am a bit bigger up top, and I am not bragging). I had hoped my old ones, which were new pre-baby, would fit well again eventually. At this point, they were nearly 3 years old, still not fitting well...time to take the plunger and get re-measured. It was well worth the price. I feel better, I look smaller, and I can wear a lot of old shirts that weren't fitting well in the too-small bras. So, it saved me money in the long run.

Now, back to the long run...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

Wednesday morning in Alexandria. No, I am not sitting at home watching The Real Housewives of Orange County on Tivo. I am out doing my tempo run- on recycling day! I am checking out what brand of orange juice the neighbors drink. (One drinks Tang!). I am seeing who drinks better wine...who else likes Red Bull...who had a party...who prefers Pepsi to Coke...what brand of water Denise Austin drinks (just kidding. I didn't run that far)...who puts their newspapers in Trader's Joe's bags. I even checked out my own. In fact, mine was the healthiest one on the block. Good thing we dropped the empty Sierra Nevadas off at a friend's!
Hey, it makes the running go faster, right? I also like checking out what people stock in their neat they are...I blame MTV (Cribs) for this. They do it, too. I have just taken it to teh streets!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cross Training

So, I'm at the gym. I am taking a yoga class rather than running on the treadmill or outside. I love yoga. It makes me feel stronger and more fit. After a few weeks of daily yoga, I see results. I look more toned and my clothes fit better. After a few days of doing yoga, I get the urge to run another marathon.

So I sign up for races. I religiously attend yoga and brush up on my Pilates. I might swim, bike, even add weights. I take the dog for long, fast walks. Do I run? No, I do not! I do not run!

I mentioned to some friends last week that I was planning to run the Marine Corps Marathon again this year (assuming I get in). I don't know why I was surprised by the response. This was it: "Are you going to run this one without training, too?" Keep in mind, these friends are a group I used to work out with every day at 5:00 AM.

Well, when you put it that way!

I have run 4 marathons, lots of 10-milers, a couple of half marathons, some sprint triathlons...but I can't say I have ever logged more than 30 miles a week. That would include those weeks I was supposed to be running those longer-than-the-actual-marathon runs.
I am a bit slow right now, but pre-baby I kept a reasonably steady pace. I could run a 7 minute mile and average 10 for a marathon. My best marathon ever I stopped running a month before the event. It was the 2001 MCM and I wasn't sure it would actually be held that year. Luckily, I had trained with a running coach early on...but I stopped because the faster I got the less fun the running became. No what? I actually finished ahead of the 3 people I struggled to keep up with during training!

Some people run to get faster, or to meet personal goals, or to lose weight. I run to have fun. I mentioned getting faster takes the fun out of things for me. I usually gain weight when I run. Personal goals...sure, I have those...hey, maybe my personal goal is to run marathon #5 without training for it! Although, that gets harder as I age...

For me, running clears my head. It gives me energy. It tans my skin. It often provides quality time with friends. It gives me something to talk about and a reason to be outside.

There are lots of reasons to run. Not everyone has to run to be faster. For those of you who are like me and aren't into that, it's okay. We still count as runners. And my training may not be traditional, but it gets the job done. I feel great during and after the race. And I have fun. My goal is not just to finish, but to enjoy the process. I like long distance runs, but I like too many different activities to possibly train for running just by running. After all, it's the journey, not just the destination.

Friday, March 31, 2006

cherry blossoms, here again

So the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler is two days away. I have trained myself silly with speedwork and long runs (peaking with a 13 miler two weeks ago). I ran that 8K three weeks ago to get a sense of my speed ability -- and was on track to run sub 1:20 for the 10 miler.

Now I have been sick all week -- as has Iz. (Abraham seems to have skipped the whole snotty nose, low-grade fever, coughing fit thing. No fair! He has no race to run!) I wasn't deathly ill or anything, and I am getting better and was hare-brained enough to wake up at 5:30 am to get a little 4 mile run in ("a little" 4 miles because I am supposed to be tapering, after all).

But there is no way I will be at peak strength on Sunday morning. And I am really disappointed. Maybe I am being silly -- I can run it just fine at a slower pace. Barring something extreme, I have no fears about not finishing. But I actually took my training seriously. I had aspirations! Sure, I'm no world-class runner. At my best, I am a front-of-the-middle of-the-pack runner. So why should I care? Ah, because I do.

Okay, the goal now is to enjoy the race, right? Just kick back... I can talk myself into this... maybe... After all, it's not a marathon (which is much more involved and daunting).

Actually, I did run fast last year, but I was tired and uncomfortable much of the time (I had gotten very little sleep, interrupted by 11-month-old Iz, who didn't sleep through the night until he was well over eighteen months old) -- I wanted to do the same speed, but have fun doing it...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Preview of What's to Come

Our little 2 1/2-year-old Doodles has suddenly morphed into a teenager. Truly. Note the various conversations we've all had with him lately, shades of the conversations we'll be having ad nausem for the next fifteen and a half years:

At 7:57 a.m.
Me: Doodles, it's time to get ready for school.
Doodles: I don't want to go to school!
Me: Doodles, you have to go to school. Now, is Mommy going to get your jacket on or do you want to put your jacket on?
Doodles: I don't want to go to school! LEAVE ME ALONE!

In the bathroom
Dad: Okay, Doodles, let me help you get your pants off. Do you want me to read you a book while you're on the potty?
Doodles: I need PRIVACY!

In the car after a disastrous departure from a friend's house.
Me: Doodles, that was not okay. When Mommy says it's time to leave, we have to leave.
Doodles, silent in the back seat, looking out the window.
Me: Doodles, do you hear me? When Mommy says we need to leave, we have to leave. If this continues, we won't be able to go back to Grape's house anymore.
Doodles, still silent in the back seat, looking out the window.
Me: Doodles, do you hear me?
Doodles: I don't want to talk.

Oh, joy. And I'm looking forward to when Sweetie Pie can talk? What am I, crazy?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

For our Colorado friends

Just received this email from Title 9 Sports (my absolute fav. comfy clothing store):

Get ready, Get set….Go!

Today is the day to start your 9-week training plan for our 4th annual title 9k! We've got beginner and intermediate training plans waiting for you, so come and sign up now.

The details:

Where: Boulder, Co

What: Our 4th annual t9k (that's about 5.5 miles) on dirt and trails around the
lovely Boulder reservoir.

When: May 14, 2006 Mother's Day!

Who: Y'all! First-timers, moms with a kid in tow, elite runners or world class skippers, scooters, and wigglers!

The full scoop: Sign up now and check out the details for this year's run!

The race looks like a ton of fun. Wish I could come out there and run it!

Monday, March 13, 2006

St. Patrick’s Day 10K (8K), March 12, 2006

What issue (or issues) does Washington, DC, have with races?

Sure, the Marine Corps Marathon remains untouched, but it seems like almost every other race has been modified, eliminated, or moved to Haines Point (and who wants to run every 10K on Haines Point?). Some have been affected by security concerns, others by complaints about road closures, and yet others by sponsor issues.

I have run the St. Patrick’s Day 10K almost every year since I moved from New York City to Washington, DC. (I didn’t run it in 2004 when I was eight months pregnant with Iz.) This year, just a week and a half before race day, the race organizers were forced to change it to an 8K. I don’t know the full reasons, and these race organizers are fantastic (The Capital Running Company). But they said that they couldn’t get permission for the course – a course that has gotten permission for 18 years in one form or another.

I had a great race – my fastest time in years (37:16 – imagine what I could have done with a 10K…) – and at least the race actually took place, unlike the Jingle Bell 10K, which was eliminated (and it followed the same course as the St. Pat’s, hmm…).

But the troubles and changes got me thinking about other races that have been messed with:
  • The Georgetown Classic 10K course, which started on M Street and went up into the residential neighborhoods, had tough hills but was interesting, different. Then Georgetown residents complained about road closures (I can’t help but think the wealth of those rusty wheels made them more effective), and the course was changed in 2001 to go into downtown DC, which was fine. As of 2003, the race has disappeared.
  • The Sallie Mae 10K, which used to make a nice, flat loop around downtown, now goes out and back along Haines Point. Sure, it is fast, but so boring.
  • The half-marathon that used to be held downtown in September is gone, too. (I never even got to run it!) I don’t remember its name or the reasons for its disappearance.
  • The Washington DC Marathon was held one year and cancelled the next. But this was the fault of the organizers, who were a for-profit entertainment company and s*ucked – they didn't care about the runners.

So, are DC races cursed?

At least the Capitol Hill Classic 10K still covers a fantastic course that actually goes down and up Capitol Hill.

I hope the Army 10 Miler (which was affected in 2005, but I hope that was not an omen) and the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (which I’m running in three weeks) stay the same – those courses kick a*ss.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Now that's just mean!

I have waited weeks and weeks and weeks for warm weather to return to DC so that I could resume my runs. Well, the warm weather is here (for now)! But, do you know what else is back? Bugs! The bugs are back! And the faster you run, the more bugs end up in hard to reach places! As the title suggests, that's just mean!!! I am going to keep running anyway. That will show them. Bring it on Bugs!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I did it!

I ran today! I actually went outside and ran! I am so excited!

When I tell peopel I haven't ran in a while, they usually look at me funny and insist "You ran a marathon!" But that was, um, over 4 months ago. Also, I honestly could have walked it in less time than it took me to run. That being said, I got a bit frustrated that I have become so non-athletic. So, I decided to swallow my pride and whip out some old "beginner" videos: yoga, tae-bo, budokon. It's boring, but it has been very effective. I can lift my legs now. I feel like a marionette!

Today I left the house with the beagle and headed for the 1 hour loop around my neighborhood. Sure, even the parts I ran, the 13 inch beagle with her 4 inch legs was still walking. That part could be considered embarrassing. But it's a start. That is what matters. Everyone needs to start over again sometimes. Oh- and I knocked 5 minutes off of my loop-around-the-neighborhood time!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sexy, Comfy, Cool

Studly Matthew McConaughey was quoted in the March 13, 2006 US Weekly as saying, "I think people are most sexy when they are not putting on airs...or trying to act like anything other than themselves." I will remember that next time I am out running errands, walking through parking lots in old sweatpants and glancing over my shoulders for those secret cameras from What Not to Wear.
It's not that I always wear sweats. In fact, I usually have on very cute yoga pants! My new job requires me to wear dress shoes about one day a week, and I just don't think stilettos are appropriate for pulling a wagon around the block. I could wear jeans, but, let's face it, even the most generously cut jeans these days would leave a plumber blushing when it comes time to play on the floor with a tot. And I just don't want to deal with fingerpaints on my favorite casual tee.
I am hopeful that most of the people who see me at Whole Foods are thoroughly envious that I just got done/am on my way to working out at the gym while they have to go back to their desks. You see, even if I did not make it to the gym, I try to portray the image that I have. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. However, if you want to nominate me for What Not to Wear, I won't argue.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The gold standard

In the midst of an insane couple of weeks, I've tried to catch as much of the Olympics as possible. It is unbelievable what some of these athletes do (and, in some cases, what they fail to do). For example, did you know that the fourth place finisher in the women's skeleton competition was nine weeks pregnant? I remember how many people think I was crazy for still running at nine weeks (for the record, I finally stopped after 20 weeks). But how do you think my OB/GYN would have reacted to an announcement that I was going to slide headfirst on my stomach down a track at 70 mph (or whatever ridiculous speed they go)? The woman wouldn't even clear me to drink a glass of wine while pregnant!

All in all, I haven't had the same amount of interest in these games as I've had in the past. Perhaps it's the lack of Americans on the medal stand, or perhaps it's just that, since this is the first Winter Olympics since my daughter was born, I don't have as much time to watch. But to watch a pregnant lady hurtle headfirst down an icy track? That's pretty freakin' cool.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Travel Safety

Can someone please recommend a good, light car seat that will fit on a plane? Short of calling the airline, who I expect will not be helpful, I am at a loss. We will be flying to Florida in April and two year old Harry, thanks to my frequent flyer miles, will have his own seat. I have googled endlessly on this topic, and I am just looking for some reliable advice about what to get. We have a Britax Marathon now, but it is big and heavy and we are too lazy to take it out of the car. I am hoping to find a cheap but safe one that we can take with us for Florida in April and Chicago in June. Have any of you had good luck with a certain kind?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Birthday Party Circuit

Just as my husband was flipping out over the down payment I made on the 2nd birthday party that we "weren't having," I heard a phrase on the radio while listening to SoJo 104.something while driving on I-95: Birthday Party Circuit. As in, "if you are on the birthday party circuit, we have news for you about how to find the best gifts that won't leave you taking out a second mortgage on your house." I believe I was on my way, little guy in tow, to a karate birthday party for a little dude named Noah that lives 5 states away (if you count DC and cut through PA).
I like the phrase! And it makes a lot of sense to me now that I am perhaps over involved in planning birthday party #2 as well as getting started on #3 for April 22, 2007 - an Earth Day birthday complete with tie-dying and (fake) worm hunts through potting soil. Vegan birthday cake anyone?
I am facing the facts, I am a planner. I planned all of the Spirit Weeks and Proms in high school, I planned events for my sorority, I planned my wedding in about 2 days flat...I like planning! And now that I don't get to go anywhere, I don't get to plan extravagant brunches, I don't get to so much as enjoy an away weekend wedding (because half of the time it is much more fun to hang out with the little dude) I may as well have fun planning parties for Harry and the children of my friends.
At Noah's birthday last weekend, I had a blast not just watching the kids, but also hanging out with adult humans in a party atmosphere while the little people could have cared less what we were doing. They had cake and other people's toys! Often, it is an opportunity to see family of family, whose company I enjoy but we aren't close enough to make plans together on our own. This weekend I got to see peopel I hadn't seen in 13 years. It is also nice to chat with people you suddenly have so much in common with!
The trend now in our area for some kids is to accept charitable donations instead of birthday gifts. Perhaps this has caught on from the same idea in lieu of wedding favors. I think this is great for kids who understand the concept, and I already planned to do this with the tooth fairy money (some of it). I think for Earth Day Birthday, this would also be a great idea, so we can start that next year (can't wait to see what my family has to say about this one!).
While I won't ban gifts this year, my true focus is the favors to give to the other kids. I know for some this may seem extreme, and I suppose in some instances this can get out of control (anyone read White House Nannies? We won't be getting signed first additions for anyone, or even autographed hockey pucks for that matter). I am just thinking a mix CD for each kid, some Barrel a Monkeys to go with the monkey/gym theme. What's wrong with that? It makes me happy, and I will use the money I could have spent on Bloody Mary mix for the brunch we've put off or Apple Martinis for that Morroccan Night that I am too tired to throw!

Who Needs Leg Room?

It's funny to see a post about minivans here, because I've been having my own minivan angst lately. On Monday morning, we got a babysitter (no daycare because of President's Day). We headed down to Roxbury with all of Adam's research. And we test drove minivans. Two specifically: the Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey. The first thing you need to know is I hate car shopping. The last thing you need to know is I hate car shopping.

Both minivans drove just fine. They're not stunning cars (Adam thought I was kidding when I complained, "The dashboards are ugly!" but really, who wants to look at an ugly dashboard?). Adam kept asking which I liked better, but honestly, they were really about the same. We had our checkbook in hand, the old car ready for a trade-in, and were mentally prepared to walk out with a new car. The prices were within about $500 of each other.

The Honda salesman seemed to be too busy to give us much time. The Toyota salesman, however, was breathing down our necks. "You don't need leather seats. Just do what I do: Don't allow any food or drink in the car for any trip under three hours." "Oh, okay, you can get the LE and simply add leather." "You won't need to move that seat very often--it doesn't matter that it doesn't slide." "I got kids, too, and this car is perfect." He kept disappearing to do God only knows what. Took forever. Adam tells me that's a sales technique, that they like to make the customer wait because then the customer becomes impatient and wants to make a deal quickly. Didn't work on me.

I told the sales guy, "Listen, we've got a babysitter at home. We have to leave soon." He dawdled. He disappeared for a bit. He returned with a sales manager. He thought he had us reeled in but he didn't get that I was serious. Minivan or no minivan, I was thirty minutes from home sans br*east pump. "We've got to go," I told him. He smiled and leaned back in his chair to negotiate some more. Finally, I'd had enough and I picked up my bag. "You've got to understand. I'm a breastfeeding mama and in about five minutes, I'm going to be in a world of pain, so we're leaving now." I'm a little sorry now that this was one of those rare moments when I actually censored what I said, because what I meant was, "Hey, jerk! My b*oobs are about to explode!"

And since we didn't walk out with the minivan, it's given me lots of time to rethink my minivan position and I believe I'm over it. Really, it shouldn't be such a leap. I already drive a station wagon, albeit a station wagon I love (a 2002 version of this). I so love my car. Love, love, love. It's a beauty of a car. And yet... I must find but another to love. The Audi has two points against it: One, a convertible infant car seat in the rear-facing position renders the front passenger seat unusable, so Adam and I will not be able to travel with our children together until Sweetie Pie is both over one years old and twenty pounds. Two, the warranty on the Audi is up soon. Right now the full warranty covers all service. The thing is, the Audi actually goes in for quite a bit of service. And it won't be economical to keep it. So I need a new car sooner or later. And let's face it: the minivan just makes sense now.

Here we are in limbo. What do we get? An SUV so there's room for car seats (and if we do that, a hybrid tops my list)? Another, larger, station wagon? The minivan? Chuck common sense, decide the kids really never need to leave the house, and go for the Boxster? The biggest argument that I can see for the minivan is it means I don't have to test drive any more cars. (Did I mention I hate car shopping?)

The only response is the Scarlett O'Hara one: I'll think about it tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2006

I love my ball!

My bouncy ball! No - wait- I was about to say mini van, but got started watching my favorite episode of Dora. The one about the bouncy ball. I love the way Boots says "My ball is bleu!" But I digress. As I was about to say, I LOVE my mini van. I am serious. I love the way the dry cleaning fits. I love the way my groceries fit. I love the way the dog fits. And Harry loves seeing out the window, having all of his stuff with him, and the 6 disc CD changer that plays Ernie by request. Or Elmo. My convertible did not have a 6 disc changer. Heck, it didn't even have a CD player!
Last September I traded in my cute little Cabrio for a light blue Town & Country mini-van. I was a little distraught the day the donation people came to pick it up, but I honestly had not driven it since the day I bought the van. I have spent the past few months happily cruising Northern VA neighborhoods.
TODAY IT GOT WEIRD! Today I am in NJ. In the town that I was born. Today, I am driving past the places I used to drive past in my old convertible. The one I had in high school. You see, until recently, I was a convertible kind of girl. I will surely go back to them at some point, but I've been happy with my mini-van. But there is just something very weird about driving one on the streets you used to be driven on as a child. And cruising in a mini van in the same parking lot you used to "cruise" for guys - granted, that was the movie theatre end, and I was at the Whole Foods end. It's just weird, that's all. Weird. Weird like teh first tiem an adult tells you a dirt joke. That kind of weird.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Running in Circles

Ever feel like you are running in circles? Not just in every day life, but in your running/training. I mean, granted, I run around in circles most of the day while chasing around my precious toddler and trying to accomplish simple things like finding my toothbrush under the bed so that I can brush my teeth or mail a few bills after peeling the sticker stamps off the refrigerator door.

Now, back to the actual running in circles. This whole childbearing age thing creates quite a viscious circle. You are running like a champ...your pace is faster than're running more races than ever...then BAM - you're pregnant. So you temporarily slow down or need to stop running for a while. You concentrate on creating a nice, safe, healthy environment for the baby who is sucking the life out of you. You give birth. Your life is turned upside down (or for some, right side up). You enjoy every moment, except the part when you're ready to start really pushing your body to the limits again. You start building the miles all over again. Speed work really sucks, but you are determined to get back to your pre-baby pace (ha!). A few months later you're almost there. You are running 5 days a week. You are racing every couple of months. You feel great -- even though you are pushing 35+ pounds while racking up the miles. Then you decide you might as well have another baby before you need dentures. So...BAM - you're pregnant. There goes all that hard work AGAIN. You chill. You try not to beat yourself up. You live through yet another preganancy and birth. Guess what?!? Its time to start all over again.

But it IS worth it. And guess what -- supposedly after giving birth your heart can pump more blood faster and your oxygen in take is greater. Meaning -- you will be FASTER and more EFFICIENT than ever before!!! So keep on running girls.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Activity# 288: Get a free lila guide

If you like to give advice to others, or you're just really excited about your favorite kid's bookstore because of their free lemonade and men's room changing table, here's a way to make yourself and your brilliant recommendations heard.

Rate 10 local baby-friendly outings, hangouts, parks, restaurants, or service providers (or even products that you use every day) and get a free copy of the lila guide. There is one for each of the 10-15 biggest metro areas, so if you don't live in one of those, sorry to taunt you with this offer.

You don't even have to remember a login name. Just use the same email address every time you write a review and they will figure it out. Get started >

Saturday, January 28, 2006

On Parenthood (and other movies)

At the risk of dating myself, one of my favorite movies in college was Parenthood, an unremarkable comedy starring Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Mary Steenburgen, and Dianne Wiest (interesting bit of trivia -- it also featured a post-Bill and Ted, pre-Speed Keanu Reeves). I don't know why I liked it so much; it wasn't as though I was a parent myself, or knew anyone facing parenthood. But for some reason, the movie has stuck with me all these years. I keep coming back to some of the visuals in the movie -- the kid who kept running into a wall with a bucket over his head, the daughter barfing all over Steve Martin. I was reminded of the movie recently while watching Steve Martin receive the Mark Twain prize. I'm sure that 20-30 years from now, I'll be recalling Father of the Bride.

What is interesting to me is the power that movies (and to some extent, television) have over our lives. I know that I'm particularly media- and pop culture-obsessed, but movies form the backdrop -- the narrative, if you will -- to many moments in our lives. So, readers, now that you are a parent, what movies do you identify with?

Thursday, January 26, 2006


I was at my post-Harry's-bedtime book club meeting tonight when asked if I had baby pictures. Nope. But I had my phone! Lots on there. I started wondering, is it weird that this is the only place I carry photos? I don't really carry a wallet. The phone is always with me. It makes sense to I the only one that shares photos this way?
Also, what's the deal with the new Wal-Mart ads? They seem to be targeting a new audience, namely: me! I'm a Target shopper, but Wal-Mart's new ads show a thirtiesh woman at home with a baby and another on a treadmill with an "Ipod." I suddenly feel the need to start buying things at Wal-Mart. Am I just a sucker for savvy marketing?
Also, I think my husband has picked up a pseudonym: Kristopher Kaiyala. Or do all men have issues with allowing toddlers to self-feed yogurt?

thinking about resolutions (at the end of January)

I read The Washington Post Magazine Year in Review issue. Well, I was reading it a few weeks ago. But even then, I was reading Sunday’s paper on, oh, the following Thursday. It usually takes me all week to read the Sunday papers. (And then it takes me weeks more to write about something that strikes me. The magazine has been sitting on my desk next to my computer since that Thursday, January 5.)

I do not remember the last time I made a New Year’s resolution. New Year’s celebrations have always been anti-climactic. Except the time I ran the Midnight Run in Central Park, but that was seven years ago! What fun: 15-degree temperature, fireworks, champagne at the halfway point in little thimble cups, ice on the Central Park roads.... Anyway…

I was reading The Significant Others column by Jeanne Marie Laskas, “The Journey of a Thousand Miles… begins with a trash bag.” She writes about New Year’s resolutions (fitting, right, for a January 1 column?), trying to pick just one small thing instead of rolling over the last year’s resolutions that never got done. Her thing was to be a neat(er) person. After considering where to get started, she focuses on her desk:

“I see there are many items that can be pitched. Here, for instance, is a pair of reading glasses I got at Target with lenses that turned out to be way too strong for me. Looking through these glasses gave me actual motion sickness. Now, someday, my eyes may need correction this strong, so should I save them? Or perhaps should I donate them to charity? One of the two rubber nosepieces is missing, but I suppose there are nosepiece replacements you can buy. Um. What the heck am I supposed to do with these things?”

I look at my desk… Who cares if it is a new year? I should always keep it neat, throw things out. But I don’t. I see s*hit tossed everywhere:

  • A hammer that I used a week ago that should be returned to the toolbox (and I have gone from office to basement enough times to just grab it and take it down with me).
  • A list of dentist names and numbers that I should file (let alone that huge pile of “To Be Filed” crap).
  • The cord for charging my iPod and another one for downloading photos from my camera spilling across the desk top.
  • A licked-clean spoon, probably left here from when I ate breakfast over an editing job a few mornings ago. The dish made it to the kitchen, the spoon was left behind

I have no reading glasses from Target. But what If I threw out something? Or put something where it belongs? Ah, that would feel good. But whenever I am not working or caring for Iz, I don’t get around to cleaning my office. Well, I do actually clean my office now and again. And then it is so much more pleasant to sit and work here.

But it is so hard to get started. So instead, I wrote this blog entry.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Role Reversal

I am a petite blond former cheerleader. My husband is a 200 pound hairy hockey goalie. I am rather girlie to the untrained eye. Kevin isn't close to girlie...until you start talking about shoe shopping.

Harry calls Kevin "MaMA." It is very accurate. Kevin IS Mama. It is not just because he cooks and does midnight wakeups and is Harry's "consistent" parent (I travel for work, Kevin is home every night). Here is my most recent example of why Kevin is the mommy and I am the daddy:
  • I came back from CVS last night (another earache) and found Harry in the tub with roughly an inch and a half of water. When I give him a bath, the water overflows and everything is soaked. I suppose Kevin is worried about drowning and all of that. Harry like s to swim in the tub though!
  • Harry's dinner plate last night that Kevin prepared had fruits and vegetables in the shape of a happy face (so cute!). For lunch I handed Harry a knife, a block of port wine cheese and some crackers.
  • Kevin helps Harry up the slide steps, I stand behind the rock wall like a drill sergeant making him do each hold himself (okay, maybe not a drill sergeant but certainly a climbing instructor).

There are still certain areas that are traditional, but some of our daily activities are funny even to me. As for Harry, he might be described as "all boy" (he walks like a tough guy), but he will spend hours pushing his "baby" in a stroller or feeding him (Graco makes a doll and stroller set in dark blue), preparing dinner at his little kitchen, or walking around with beads and a "purse" (it is actually a mini sports bag). Harry will run around the yard with a hockey stick and puck making growling sounds, all the while making sure his chocolate box headband stays in place!
Harry wants to be big so badly! he doesn't differentiate between gender activities at this point. I guess Kevin and I don't really do that either- except fro the headbands! But he'll figure that one out at some point!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Bell Tolls for Me

How can something so beautiful, so sweet, so absolutely yummy want to kill me so badly? That's the only explanation I can come up with. Sweetie Pie wants me dead.

For starters there's the sleep thing. Is it fair to call it a sleep thing when there's no sleep involved? Basically, I spend the entire night nursing Sweetie with tiny, short nap breaks. As a newborn, she slept in two hour blocks. Now that she's almost five months old she sleeps in forty-five minute to one hour blocks. I'm her favorite pacifier. I'm her only pacifier.

Then there's the eating thing. I've met my picky eaters before but Miss Pie takes the prize. Not only is she picky about what she eats (breastmilk, please) but she will only take it in its original form. No bottles for her, thank you! Not from her father, not from her grandparents, not from her teachers.

Which brings us to the final thing: school (which is what we call day care in our house). Sweetie Pie isn't a fan. The first day I had to come feed her midday. The second day she plodded through and today, the third day, I got a call at 10:30 a.m. that I needed to come in because she wouldn't stop crying. I went in and held her and--poof!--she stopped crying. I put her down to play with her and waaaaaa. Beet red waaaaaaa. Tears streaming down face waaaaaaa. Pick her back up. She's fine. After about ten rounds of this fun game, I gave up and took her home. Which would be fine if I didn't have three work deadlines looming ahead. We went back in the afternoon to hang out and help acclimate her. And guess what? She played her little game again. "Coo, coo, coo!" Mommy thinks she's doing okay, and sets her down to play. "Waaaaaaaaaa!" Up she goes. "Coo, coo, coo!"

The end result of this? An overly tired, sore nippled, work-stressed mom who teeters on the edge of oblivion. Right now, I'm blogging from bed as she sleeps next to me (because why would you sleep on your own when you can sleep touching Mom?) and she's so beautiful and peaceful and sweet. The sad thing is I know how much I'm going to miss all this in a few years. In the meantime, I'll just continue my role as zombie mom until I can wrangle up two hours of sleep in a row. Word to the wise: Stay out of my way. I'm not the most pleasant person around right now

Activity #287: Get your kid an email address

There's been some talk in the blogosphere this week about babies born with URLs already reserved for them. That's fine and all, but there's a reason to get your pre-reading child online that's not just about reserving his or her Internet real estate. If you sign your kid up for an email address, you can send messages to his or her future self.

All those things that you aren't writing in the baby book are candidates for an email to your child's future inbox.

Dear Julian, today you threw a tantrum like none other I have seen. It was impressive.
Dear Julian, today you said "Mama" in a way that told me you knew exactly how to use that word.
Dear Julian, I'm on my first business trip away from you, and frankly it's not half-bad.

Let's face it, handwriting in baby books is old school. Screen-based communication is what our kids are going to expect. This is how their lives will be documented.

If you are commited to the paper-based method, you can check baby's inbox from time to time and print your messages out. Or, just wait. When these guys are old enough to open their inbox, they can read all the notes you wanted to send them when they were too young to understand. And hopefully, they won't see your name in the From line and click "This is spam."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Just Like Us!

My husband sent me this link. I thought it was, as my buddy from New York would say, "Intra-sting." Looks like the boys aren't so different after all...except for that cool ability to pee standing up...

Mirror, Mirror on TV

Have you ever noticed that women great each other like this... "Wow! You look great! Have you lost weight?" Or some women think that comments like this are compliments, "Oh my gosh, you look positively anorexic. What have you been doing?" Has the media really brainwashed all women of the world into thinking that we aren't beautiful unless our bones are showing?

Our daughters and sons need us to break this chain of negative images. We are all strong and beautiful. The size of our jeans and the cost of our clothes is not what is important. Our values, drive, and outlook on life are important. Our self-respect and respect for others will make us happy and successful.

I have been fighting self esteem battles my entire life. I hate waking up every day and feeling that I am not good enough, not pretty enough, and not rich enough. Some of these negative feelings stem from the onslaught of images from the media making us all feel plain and boring. Some of it comes from my childhood and seeing women all around me obsessed with weight, looking "average", and their lack of money.

With all of this said, and as hard as I try, I cannot seem to stop comparing myself to others. Why??? I've been trying to build my self esteem for years. But it still seems to eat me alive. Every day I wake up tell myself that I am beautiful, strong, and have it all. I mean, I have the most incredible husband and child. My family is supportive and there when I need them. And the friends I've made as an adult are the greatest people on earth. If you were to meet me you would never in a million years suspect that I am fighting inner demons just standing there talking to you. I am friendly and seem confident on the outside. But in mind I am scared and weak and afraid that you won't enjoy our conversation and will think I'm an idiot. What will it take for me to feel truly proud of myself. Don't get me wrong - I do feel proud many times - maybe even once each day. But it does fade, and then I must fight the negative feelings in order to feel the thrill of a beautiful day once more.

I have vowed to never, ever, ever mention weight or weight loss or body types in front of my daughter. I will celebrate her accomplishments and her failures. I will support all of her choices. If we live honest, healthy, nutitious, active lifestyles our daughters and sons will mimic our actions. They won't have to worry about their "looks" because they will be fulfilled in so many other ways.

I'm not exactly sure how I will accomplish these goals. But I do know this...that my daughter will not inherit my low self esteem. She will feel so much love and security and joy from her father and me that she will never doubt herself.

If this is the one thing in my life that I can accomplish it will make me happier than anything in the world. It is the one special gift that I will gladly give her.

Let's break all the mirrors and fill our children's worlds with sunshine and windows instead.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Heavenly or Cruel?

Let's travel back 12 Years. I remember the first time I saw a mother using one of those child leashes. I gasped out loud. She was walking through an airport and yanking on her poor innocent son. I began objecting to a friend, "Can you believe that people treat their children like dogs? That is cruel! I wonder if they keep him tied to a tree in the backyard."

Now, Fast Forward to Present Time. While scrambling through a busy airport during the holiday season this year, trying to keep up with my 1.5-year old, dropping carry-on luggage, and searching for a bathroom to change a dirty diaper, I saw a heavenly sight. I saw a father using a child leash on his son. Amazing how having a toddler can change your outlook! This leash was attached to a backpack instead of the child's wrist (or neck like that old picture in my head!)

Now, I'm not saying that I would use one of them - NOT YET - check with me in another couple of months (laughing at the thought). I'm not quite that brave yet. However, with a toddler who can probably run a sub 5-minute mile in circles around the house on top of my own self-diagnosed ADHD (exaggerating a little here, folks) which causes me to sometimes forget where I am or which project is in the works...who is to say that I don't need about 10 of those leashes.

This, of course, prompted a long discussion among my mommy friends. "We could design leashes encrusted with rhinestones so they don't look so primitive." Are they cruel? Are they not? Would you dare use one and deal with the glares of passersby burning a hole through you?

I will say many times as my dear daughter has tried to zip out the door at Starbucks as soon as it opens - or - screams with glee as she maneuvers through a crowded mall - or - runs amuck through the racks at a clothing store playing hide-n-seek with mommy...I have considered tying her safely to me.Would a leash be the answer?

Uhm, nope, not for me. Can't quite get this picture out of my head...imagine a 'child-walking' service where a person has 6 kids on leashes walking through Central Park. Too funny. Don't forget the poop bags.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Second Guessing

Shortly after waking up today, I was sitting on the sofa watching Sesame Street with the little guy, and rage took over my body. I have no idea why! I am pretty much a morning person, I love my cuddle time in the AM with Harry, I had a great weekend, I wasn't in a hurry to do much...but I just suddenly got so mad. The main thought in my head was that nothing I ever decided as a child seemed to be right. I grew up in a town where nothing I did was like what everyone else did. I lived in a place where I often felt like I need to apologize for having gone to college. You would think it was a mountain in Appalachia, but it was New Jersey. For all I know, maybe it was just my family that was difficult, and not everyone else in the town.
Still trying to figure out what caused these suppressed feelings to well up. Maybe it was the long lost relative I have recently started corresponding with that, like all of the others relatives I have ever emailed with, has decided to send me every God/Jesus message he can find. Maybe it was the conversation with a friend about how against daycare her husband is, being a child of daycare himself. Conversely, I was an at-home kid until nursery school and am against that. Maybe I spent my sleeping hours wondering if we all grow to despise our parents' decisions.
I may never know, but I keep hearing my mom's voice in my head repeating "Why would you want to do that?" or "Wouldn't you rather do this?" or "I know you like this dress but (wouldn't you rather waste 5 hours trying on 900 others) so that you can be sure?" I wasted the time fruitlessly trying on multiple dresses for my 8th grade graduation, but after that spent a lot more time out of my house and by the time my senior year of high school rolled around, I tried on 1 prom dress (a less-than-frilly ivory cocktail dress that would be in style to this day) and tried on 3 wedding dresses and ended up with the first one I saw - yes, off the rack even, but it was perfect for what I had in mind.
You might thing that I am easily satisfied or that I settle for things. I am not/ I do not. I just believe in knowing what you want and doing things right the first time. I have done this with cars, colleges and my decision to have a baby. The first time I really ran was to train for a marathon, which I completed 6 months later. I adjust things in my head, and then I set out to do them right. Yet, there are so many other things that I don't do or say because I feel that they may not be good enough or right enough, or else I swing the opposite direction and think my way is the only way to do anything. It's all very bipolar.
That crazy chick Dr. Laura seems to have a new book out about getting over our childhood. Now, I am the last person to say you should blame your childhood for anything! But, I also think you should be made aware of issues you have and perhaps establish where they came from before getting past them. I think it is helpful for me to remember all of those second guesses from my mom questioning why I would want to play softball (I didn't, at least not until 1 year in high school), or leave the area to go to college (I did, and I never went back) or not have a baby in my 20s (I waited). My decisions worked out for me. Those of my mom's that I listened to (dying my eyebrows, getting a water bed, painting my room peach) did not.
Somewhere along the way I forgot that my mother and I have almost always disagreed. She always seemed to be more interested in "showing me off" or having someone to love her than in just being my mother. She taught me how to read early, but then seemed to resent when I became smarter than her.
After Harry was born, she popped back into my life more actively and seemed to blend herself into my life. This was great, but it was not long lasting. Now she is here, and the tables seem to have turned again so that I feel I have to do what I can to make her happy, which is not always easy, since she is crazy. Yes, crazy, and most of me hopes she isn't reading this. Most of me.
The other day she emailed that she wanted to join us for Harry's birthday trip to Disney World. I politely emailed back that the three of us need our alone time as a family, but if they wanted to go to Florida and overlap their trip by a day, that would be great. I actually used the word "great." I haven't heard from her much since. I felt guilty for a few days, now I am just angry. I am angry that she could turn something having nothing to do with her, something I look forward to doing with my husband and child, into something that makes me feel bad. Maybe that is what brought up so many old memories.
My mom stayed at home with me until I was 8. I suppose you could say I was privileged. Most people just said in front of me that I was spoiled (I really wasn't). We weren't weathly, but I was an only child and I had lots of creature comforts. I didn't have friends or much attention though. My mom was usually on the phone or taking me off to do errands. When we did go to the neighbors', I played with the kids while the adults talked...usually about how unhappy they were at home or how they should get a job. I wished she would have too. I wished I had someone to play with. My first day of school was the greatest day of my life. I wished my parents didn't seem to put me in the middle all of the time. I wished I'd had parents who set rules, fed me vegetables, put me to bed by 8:30.
Certainly, I would hope, not every mom out there is crazy. I do think watching a child can be very stressful, regardless of who you are, and every woman should have time for herself. If you are crazy though, and maybe it is just my mom, Susan Smith, and Andre Yates, why would you think it best to make your child stay home with you all day, letting your negative thoughts spill onto them like acid? Kids are like sponges. They pick up the good stuff and the bad. You wouldn't use a kitchen sponge after cleaning up a messy salmonella spill, but some would assume that if they keep a tidy home and put bows in their daughters hair that she won't notice all of the poison erupting around her.
I look back on comments that I have made to Harry, especially that he is getting older now. I hope I have never discouraged him. I hope I have made it clear that I respect his idea to run around the pool and jump in without me catching him, it may be better to stay closer to me, at least so we don't run into any other swimmers. If he wants to do something I might think is icky, it's cool, he can do it, but I may not want to join him. Harry is his own person, and just because I disagree with him, doesn't mean what he is doing is wrong. Of course I would think this, after all, I am busy second guessing myself. Perhaps living on peanut butter is the best idea. What do I know. I am not the expert on life. No one is! And, perhaps, hard as I try, Harry may grow up and resent my decisions. I certainly hope not.
What I do know...I need to get out and run today! Running my not be the best thing for my particular body, but it does clear my head, and that makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Activity #153: Create a family photo wall

Real grown-ups might already have one of these in their house, but I am just getting started. I'm doing this to help Julian learn his grandparents' faces.

I recommending assigning this task to family members, both to create less work for you and so that no one complains that they don't like the picture you chose. Call all the grandparents and tell them to bring you a framed picture for this wall. (They should be highly motivated when you tell them it’s for baby to get to know them better. ) To build an outing around this, go out to a frame store and decide what kind you want. Or check out (pictured here) the Picture Wall Company product that will make this as easy as possible.

Once your wall of fame is in place, walk by with baby and point everyone out and say their names. Progress note: Julian is sort of saying "grandpa" as of yesterday.

If you want to get high-tech and achieve the same objective, check out It's a video, sorta like Baby Einstein, that includes pictures of your family and you. You upload the pictures on the web site and then they mail you a custom DVD.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Getting Old

My husband is sitting nearby, strumming his guitar and watching hockey. It is about 8:30 and the sounds of it all go right through me. The hockey announcers are about to cause me to have an anxiety attack with their choppy, panic inducing words. The guitar- well, I feel bad. It was my idea to get it back out so that Harry could be exposed to it. My sweet Muffin is working on two of my favorite songs - and yet I want to pull my hair out while jumping off of the roof! I think what I had in mind for the guitar was for it to be played during normal hours. Muffin complains that it is only 8:30.
When did 8:30 become late? I used to start getting ready for the evening at 8:30, with the music cranked up! I used to know what Jay Leno looked like. I used to wear tank tops to bars in winter. Did I know a few years back that all of that "craziness" would be short lived? The strangest part of all is that it wasn't that long ago. If I knew then what I know now, I would have worn more bikinis, stayed awake later, traveled more.
I am not sure I know anyone who actually went out on New Years Eve this year. That includes childless couples and those who are single. Okay, I lied. My friend Andrew's 50-something parents have been partying lock rock stars. I went to a mountain resort in the poconos but didn't stay up late enough to see Dick Clarke.
There is a show currently on TV called How I Met Your Mother. It is quirky and I like it and odds are it will be cancelled. Regardless, it reminds me of my post college days, hanging out with a small group of friends in the bars of Baltimore. I guess in a way, those days seemed like vacation. We had just finished a busy phase in our lives, and we were hanging out for a while, preparing for the next one. Of course, I didn't have the cash to travel throughout Europe, and I didn't have the money for a personal trainer. I had to go to sleep at some point so I could wake up and make a name for myself in business world. Still...
The next phase is here for me, and it's not what I expected. I like staying home with my son. I am not that ambitious at work. It is kind of okay that I can barely run a 10 minute mile. I would never have imagines that slowing down could sustain me.
My biggest worry is that everything I have worked so hard for could be taken away in an instant. I guess that worry is a lot to manage. Maybe that is what makes me want to go to bed at 9:30, instead of gettig a sitter to watch Harry sleep so that I can hit the bars...or an 8:30 kick boxing class, for that matter!
I was 30 when Harry was born. I'd had plenty of time to have fun, and I think I did a fair job of that. It's time for me to be a soccer mom now. I love my little house. I want to fill it with furniture from Pottery Barn kids. I love my mini-van (but I did get a stealie for it). Rather than taking advantage of some free time, Kevin and I both take Harry to his gymnastics class, his swim class, out for his bike rides and to his room for his 2 hour bedtime rituals. I guess it is not so bad to be responsible at the moment. I guess, in the words of my father, that's what you do. Besides, I can party like a rock star when I'm 50.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Almost French (a book)

A book that is not about mothers, children, or running...

I have loved reading Almost French: A New Life in Paris, a memoir by journalist Sarah Turnbull. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. All the clichés apply: I couldn’t put it down; I lost track of time while reading; etc. Turnbull writes about her first years of living in Paris, where she still lives. You may love Paris or know nothing about it – no matter because her story is simply a good story. And her writing is real, clear and uncontrived.

Turnbull, an Australian, moved to Paris in an uncharacteristically whimsical way. (Though Australians are known for being travel-aholics. Some say it is because they live so far away from their cultural roots in Western Europe. As a child, my mother, who is Australian, kept a suitcase packed with essential supplies for her imagined world travels.)

Back to the point, Turnbull meets a Frenchman while traveling in Bucharest, and visits him in Paris. She falls in love (she does not, however, detail their romance in a usual way) and she moves to Paris to live with him. Over the next few years, she builds a freelance journalist career and faces many culture clashes. Some of her experiences are funny, but not always. Some are tense, but not quite look-away painful and hard to read.

Turnbull does not write about motherhood or children, but she does mention running once. Her book has brought a refreshing change to my reading material. And she is so easy to identify with because her writing is so compelling and she faces so many common, yet specific, dilemmas.

And, come on, my whole identity is not about being a mother and a runner, right?

So what do I read next?