Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Obligatory first-day-of-school-picture-on-the-front-steps. We all survived.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Another day - another milestone

Tomorrow Harrison starts Kindergarten. I'm not worried. I'm not scared for him. I'm not overly excited. It's another change - another beginning in his schooling. I feel as though I'm supposed to cry when we drop him off tomorrow morning. Isn't that what moms do on the first day of Kindergarten and when their kid leaves for summer camp?

Tonight we did his homework. Yesterday he had a short assessment at his school with his teacher. Chris took him, and filled out some paperwork, while his teacher asked him some questions. Afterwards. Chris was given a "welcome" letter and a project for Harry to complete. Homework. He got homework, before the start of the year. In Kindergarten. He had to decorate a figure, that looks like the outline of the Gingerbread Man, with glitter, construction paper, yarn, etc. I don't have things like glitter lying around. I am not crafty. I have my moments (made my own wedding invitations and baby thank you cards) but they are few and far between. I found about 20 buttons - pretty much all white and black - and a bag of hair ribbons from when I was a kid. I also found some yarn from the knitting project I started right after Harrison was born. He did it, though. He managed to create one very beautiful Gingerbread/figure/Harrison look-a-like with marker, five buttons, one piece of hair ribbon and yarn.

When I showed it to Chris, complaining that I was a lame mom for not having better craft supplies around the house, he immediately made me feel better by reminding me that the project was supposed to be a "Harrison creation" - nothing more.

I'm pretty sure I'll be fine about Harry's milestone of starting in the public school system. I'm worried, though, about all the other stuff - PTA, homework, providing the right school supplies, buying the appropriate gift for his teacher at the holidays (if I even find time to do that). That's the kind of stuff that will kill me.

Monday, August 29, 2005

No wonder the kids call him Fun Daddy

Last night the back door was left open. Not that unusual of an occurrence, but still annoying. As I went to go push it shut, after numerous attempts to get someone else to do it, I noticed the garden hose coming up the back stairs winding out the back door. I followed it outside.

Chris had connected the hose to the faucet in the basement and was filling the swimming pool with warm water. Harrison ran up to me asking for “bubbles”. “Mommy – we’re taking a bath outside!” Harrison and Ella both put on some of Harry’s swimming trunks and had their own version of a hot tub party.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Mt. Timpanogos

Daddy, how come we never dance at Sundance?

asked Ella on our hike today.

Last night’s sleep was awful. I had a bad stomachache after dinner and it lingered off and on through my sleep. Damn Weight Watchers – I know the culprit was too many sugar snap peas, carrots, grape tomatoes, carrots, and any other fiber-filled zero point object I could get my hands on yesterday. I woke to pee about four times as well as woke to Ella climbing into our bed. “Chris, carry her back to bed.” No response. I let her stay with us and fell back asleep. A few hours and bathroom trips later, Harrison was trying to squeeze into our bed. I picked him up to carry him back to bed and he started to cry pretty loudly. Not wanting him to wake Ella, I relinquished and allowed him to take my spot while I climbed into his bed for the remainder of the night. The stomachache was at an all-time peak at this point and consumed me. I somehow managed to sleep a little longer until I finally woke up to my sore throat returning along with a really sexy low cough. The stomachache was gone, though. I was ready for the day.

I crept around the house gathering my running gear and put it all on. As I put my contact lens on my finger I noticed that a small chunk of it was gone. Missing. Broken off. I put it in and tried to position it so that it wouldn’t feel like a wood chip was in my eye, but rather a small fleck of dirt. As I shuffled out into the kitchen, Chris woke up and questioned my sanity as I looked and sounded like hell. “Take a day off.” “Are you nuts????” I said. “How can I eat as much?!!!” I thought it through though, at his encouragement, and decided to take the day off from running AND my diet. It was hard to agree to, but I thought that my cold might get better if I rested. I was crabby and defensive, and very irritable. I snapped at him about everything. He responded in pretty much the same mood. Somehow, we both managed to turn it around and decided to plan something fun so that the day wouldn’t be wasted. He suggested we go to Sundance Resort and hike.

We got a late start for a number of reasons, but got out the door around 11:30 or 12:00. Preparing for a hike is much like preparing for a mini-vacation. Kind of like packing your make-up bag, you have to bring almost as much stuff for one day hiking as if you were going somewhere overnight. Extra clothes, lots of food and snacks, sweatshirts for layering, sunglasses, water bottles, etc.

We stopped at Target on our way because we could. Raised in Minneapolis, I was spoiled to have a Target on every corner, but in Salt Lake there are three. THREE in the whole town. The closest one is about 25 minutes away. This side trip added an extra 45 minutes to the already long excursion. As we got back on the highway and Chris turned the car and headed up American Fork Canyon, I finally remembered what a trip to Sundance involves – a long, winding, slow drive through spectacular scenery that makes me nauseous and nervous. The road is very narrow and treacherous in places. It takes about 45 minutes of slow winding to make it to the resort. About 15 minutes into the ride, Ella starts complaining of a stomachache. She does this a lot and it usually means she has to use the bathroom or she has drunk too much water. We kind of blew it off. Her whines/complaints lasted the rest of the drive. Harrison joined her whining when we had about 10 minutes to go. He complained that he was bored. We agreed and kept telling the kids that we were almost there. It was hard to enjoy the amazing views of Mt. Timpanogos due to our overwhelming desire to get the hell out of the swerving car. As we came over a crest that allowed us to see the parking lot of Sundance, we heard a noise we hadn’t heard in quite some time: Ella gagging, coughing and spewing. I whipped my head around and screamed, “Ella’s throwing up! Ella’s throwing up!” As I tried, unsuccessfully, to get out of my seat belt, Chris pulled over onto the non-existent shoulder of the aforementioned tiny and narrow two-lane road. At this point the noise became stereo as Harry joined her. “Harrison’s throwing up, too!” (Isn’t my dialogue so engaging, by the way?!) We both jumped out and tried to get the kids out without getting dirty ourselves. Ella was a crying, screaming, vomiting mess. She couldn’t stop until each clothing item on her body, and every bit of her car seat, were covered. Harrison wasn’t quite as bad. He left a HUGE pile in the middle of the floor of the van, but didn’t get his shoes or his clothes nearly as dirty. He even waited to finish until he got outside. His feet were half on the side of the road, and half dangling over a sheer cliff, as he balanced and vomited while I held him up. Ella just had to avoid traffic on her side, and the astonished looks on the faces of visitors to the canyon trying to enjoy the beautiful afternoon, as she finished her business. We stripped them down right there on the side of the road and then opened the seats that had been closed and raised in the middle of the van. (Side note: We had recently put all the seats in the van so that we could carry more people. The kids thought the “way back” of the van was “so cool!” and begged us to move their seats back there. They’ve been sitting back there for about two weeks.) After we got to the resort parking lot, we pulled the kids out and started wiping. Baby wipes are amazing. We wiped their bodies, clothes and the seats and floor of the van. The car seats, and Ella’s dress, got the worst of it. Chris took the car seats into the creek and soaked them. It felt kind of like “Little House on the Prairie” for a moment or two. Chris playing Charles and I, Caroline, as we faced adversity in the shadow of Robert Redford’s play land.

I had brought another dress for Ella, but only shorts for Harry (who knows why?) As we walked to the gift shop, we placed bets on how much a “Sundance” t-shirt would set us back so that Harrison wouldn’t have to look like trailer trash all day. Amazingly, at this point, the kids were acting fine. They weren’t whining or even worn out from their “adventure”. We figured out pretty quickly that riding in the back of our extra long Chevy Venture on curvy mountain roads is equivalent to bouncing in the back seat of a school bus on a bumpy dirt road. This is what had made them so sick. We will not be taking the scenic route to Sundance again any time soon.

After we left the gift shop, we rode the chairlift up to the top for a little exploring. We changed our plans and decided to just go for a short hike up there in case one of the kids got sick again. It was so beautiful. I took about 140 pictures. We gathered rocks, brushed by wildflowers, scared a snake and found a waterfall.

As we headed back to the chairlift for our ride down, Chris pointed out a big house with a large meadow. “I’ll bet that’s Redford’s.” Sure enough, the lift operator corroborated our guess. He told us that Bob owns all the land in the area. There are a few private homes here and there that I asked about. The operator told us that Redford sells lots when he needs the cash. Currently there are 10 lots for sale - $2.5 million a piece.

A thunderstorm was moving in, so we decided to dine a little early. The music playing in the restaurant was old blues. My favorite kind. One of my favorite moments of the whole day was watching my kids tap their feet and bob their heads to the familiar rhythms. Ella finally got to dance during this, her third trip, to Sundance. We had a wonderful meal (I didn’t count ANY points) and then went to play in the creek before heading out. The ride home was all four lane roads or highway, and much less eventful.

This was one of those days that felt really good. Nice. I don’t exactly know why – it just did.

Stewart Falls

cool nature shot

"Bob's" house

Riding the chairlift

View from our hike

Fancy dancy garbage receptacles at Sundance

Car seats drying in the sun

Creek at Sundance

Right after Harrison fell in the water

Playing in the creek

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Ignore the carrot bag, and the food in (and on) Harry's mouth, and let me revel in how lucky I am

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. --Angela Schwindt

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Parents of the Year

Harrison has a toy farm train. The cars are tractors, farm trailers, etc. The track is plastic and sets up in a figure eight pattern. When the train runs over a certain piece of track it sets off songs. I’m not sure which is more annoying – “Farmer in the Dell” or "Old MacDonald". What makes it worse, though, is that it doesn’t have an easy on/off switch. It never fails. By the time I figure out how to turn it off, the song has already run its course. Did I mention it doesn’t have a volume control? All in all, it’s not the kind of toy we would have purchased ourselves. (No comment on who the gift was from - let's just say someone's parents who don't live near us and can't hear the lovely train tunes over and over and over ....)

Tonight, while Harrison was in his usual “I-refuse-to-eat-dinner-because-I’d-rather-be-playing” mode, he interrupted our dinner angrily yelling about how frustrated he was with a part of the track. For the third time tonight (and maybe the four thousandth time in the last two years) one of us had to get up (I know we don't "have to" to do anything our kids ask, but after a long day at work - the last thing either of us wants to do is upset the kids so please don't hassle me for enabling his behavior) and adjust the track for him so that it would fit together properly.

This is what I heard come out of Chris’ mouth in an extremely upbeat tone: “I just love doing this! Almost as much as I would love to have all of my teeth pulled out of my mouth…with a pliers…at once…and with a long steel rod shoved…up my…mumble, mumble.”

Monday, August 22, 2005

More great music

This is a garden within Red Butte Garden - my favorite place to hang out in the summer. My former co-worker and good friend, Amanda, and I went to see a fantastic concert here last night under the stars. The Blind Boys of Alabama followed by Susan Tedeschi. I love live music! (I think I may have mentioned that before!)

Friday night Chris and I saw the Utah Symphony perform with the Claremont Trio up at Deer Valley. It got so cold, though, that even with a light sweater and a blanket we froze.

I feel very fortunate to be able to see all this great music lately. We are so broke right now, but Chris knows how much I appreciate concerts and allows me to indulge.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I wear this for one simple reason... makes me feel pretty. It must have magic powers that keep me drawn to it though, because I get a LOT of shit for wearing this.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The hills are alive...

Spending time outside is the best part about Utah. The scenery is spectacular and the views around my own neighborhood still take my breath away even as I drive to the grocery store. Combine this beauty with live music and I am a happy woman.

Last weekend we attended a Buckwheat Zydeco concert up in Park City. We brought in sandwiches, veggies, chips, nuts, graham crackers, fruit leather, beer, wine and rum. Not exactly high-brow fare, but we’re a family with two little kids. We do what we can. Oh – and the best part is that it was free. (The kids will tell you that the best part was taking a chair lift from the parking lot up to the concert site.) Chris’ brother joined us and it was really a fun evening.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Basking in the glorious sound of our LOVELY voices.

Handmade by #1 son

Happy Birthday, Chris!

There are people who come into your life and make a huge impact. Sometimes the interaction is short – other times much longer. Chris came along unexpectedly and completely changed my life. He has a way of doing that when he chooses.

My wish for my birthday boy is that he realizes his potential this next year in all of his encounters. His smile is engaging. I look forward to seeing it more often.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Yesterday afternoon - after we got back from the swimming pool and I fully expected my two babies to go down for an easy nap - I heard them giggling and scuffling in their closet. They found the box of winter pajamas I had stored on the floor and quickly stripped their bathing suits and put on some of them. Harrison donned his favorite glow-in-the-dark dinosaur jammies, while Ella put on B's old shark pajamas that must be a size 8 or 10 (WAY too big for her.) They tromped outside and started playing on their playset. Temperature in Salt Lake City yesterday at 3:30 pm - approximately 96 degrees! They claimed not to even notice.

Friday, August 05, 2005

First picture of this boy smiling. I didn't take it - Harrison did - or Beth. Anyway...could someone please tell me what to do with a 12 year old for nine more days. I do love him, but I can't get over how, even with my background of working with adolescents, I have NO patience for him. He deserves better. Send other preteen males this way...IMMEDIATELY.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I'm fortunate

I don’t sleep well. I can’t even remember the last time I slept through the night. I don’t remember when it started – when the luxury of sleeping so soundly that I would awaken startled by my alarm – ended. I think I’ll blame Harry. He started pushing on my bladder somewhere around 4 months along. I remember waking at least twice a night near the end. Someone told me that it was just the beginning. That it was God’s way of getting me ready for his presence. What? I had NO idea what she was talking about until he came. This boy did not sleep through the night until he was TWO and a HALF years old. Now that I lay it out like that, I definitely blame Harrison.

Always a light sleeper, I can hear the slightest noises while I’m asleep. Back in Green Bay, in my monstrous old Victorian (which is still for sale by the way if anyone is interested in a BEAUTIFUL investment property), Harrison slept in the next room, but it was quite a ways down the hall. My hearing became bionic and I could hear him breathing. Every sigh, toss or hiccup would kick in my super power hearing to the highest level until he settled down. We used baby monitors for about a week until I realized that they were too loud. I could hear too much.

Insomnia is now what I call my incomplete, unsettled sleeping patterns. If there is ANYTHING at all on my mind, I will only think about it at night. It’s just the rule. Through my work, I’ve studied the brain a bit. I know that heavy duty stuff goes on while you are sleeping. I just wish I had a switch that I could turn off when I needed to. During finals in grad school, I would have turned it on to continue memorizing all the DSM-IVR crap I needed to remember for my tests. When I get to bed later than I want to, and I need to get up early to run and get the kids off to preschool early, I would like to turn it off.

Last night was unique. I didn’t lay awake for two – four hours thinking about every little thing that needs to be done in my life at this exact moment. No, I just woke up every hour – about 8 minutes past the hour – to look at my clock. I would then roll over and miraculously fall back asleep – that is until 4:08 am. That’s when I had to pee and my schedule hooked up with Ella’s. She pranced out of her room, “Mommy, I have to pee.”
This was good and bad at the same time. She still wears Pull-Ups at night and this was the first time she has woken up to pee. That’s good. I was a little concerned, though, that she wouldn’t fall back asleep, but she did. I, however, did not fall asleep until about 5:14 am and my alarm went off at 5:40. To make things worse, I had a horrible dream that luckily was interrupted by the alarm. I dreamed that Harrison got his face too close to the grill and his hair or cheek caught on fire. I woke up before I had a chance to get to him. It was awful.

Last night I spent some time talking to a neighbor about the awful tragedy that has transcended on our neighborhood. Four boy scouts were injured, and one killed, in a lightening strike on their cabin at camp. Beth recounts the events extremely well. As I sit here and “complain” about my inconsistent sleep, my house drama in Wisconsin, or the fact that I’m still not satisfied with my weight, I shudder to think about the pain the dead boy’s parents are experiencing.

Events like this remind me to slow down. To cherish what I do have and to stop wishing for things I don’t.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Only two more weeks of summer for me. How will I survive?

Monday, August 01, 2005

I admit, the coffee shop in SW Minneapolis is pretty great, but this is truly my Nirvana

Little Cottonwood Canyon, summer 2004

The drive up to Snowbird Ski Resort last Saturday evening was breath taking. The creek was rushing through the canyon with small waterfalls every couple of hundred feet. The mountain sides were as green as I’ve seen them. The sky was blue and cloudless. Sunroof open, stereo loud, windows down. The curvy road was almost empty as we sped up to the festival leaving the kids, jobs, responsibilities and problems down in the valley.

We walked through the eclectic crowd towards the large white bubble that the music was emanating from. Rows of folding chairs were neatly lined up in front of the stage filling three or four former tennis courts. I didn’t smell one cigarette. This made me very skeptical that this could be a legitimate blues venue until I saw the beer line – it was long, very long. That was familiar. I jumped into line and had a great view of the band. I was grateful to be standing so that I could move. I absolutely cannot stay still while listening to this type of music. My whole body transformed. My face lit up and started to smile. All inhibitions left my normally self conscious persona as my torso begins to move unabashedly. I didn’t care who was watching. No body image issues – in fact I felt confident and sexy.

The minute a blues riff plays at a live concert, people start to move. It’s impossible not to. If a person has any sort of rhythm, they will automatically start swinging their hips. Even if the music sounds upbeat, or fast, the bass line rhythm will most likely be slower than expected. The hip swing will be slow and sexy. Blues music is the perfect music to make love to. It could be the large amounts of beer that is usually sold at blues concerts that evokes these kinds of connections out of me, but I really don’t think so.

We sat for most of the night between a young couple, who looked out of place amongst the largely middle-aged crowd, and two brothers in their 60s and their wives. The brother that was directly next to me had some great moves. My favorite was “The Politician”. He would lean forward in his seat and shake his fist to the beat. His thumb was outside of his fist and sticking out - you know how candidates always do that during debates when they are making a point? Our whole row was fairly quiet and conservative until Buddy Guy finally got on stage.

The entire crowd got pretty crazy as Buddy played for well over an hour. It was such a better performance than the previous acts, and the blues he played was so much better – so much purer. His guitar playing was amazing. I can’t even think of a proper adjective. It was clean and precise. I stood on my chair and watched as Buddy sang, played, danced, mingled with the crowd and genuinely had a blast. It was his 69th birthday that night and his energy was ten times a 21 year old.

One of my favorite moments was when Buddy was singing some fairly raunchy lyrics and the Mormon father-son duo directly in front of me put down their sodas and stripped off their BYU sweatshirts in a dancing frenzy. Well, maybe “frenzy” is too strong of a word. Let’s just say they’re matching bald spots were doing some HEAVY bobbing.