Sunday, June 29, 2008

We played all day

All four of us are heading out Wednesday to visit my dad and brother in Minneapolis.  I am so looking forward to getting there.  I absolutely love the Twin Cities in the summer.  We head down to Lake Harriet most mornings to run on the path, or we just skip the exercise and get coffee and pastries in Linden Hills.  

I love that we will get to spend time with my family, but I don't know how I'll handle the "new" Glenn.  My dad is quite the swinger these days.  He's dating about four women.  They are spread all over the country.  I know it's all innocent, he's mainly looking for companionship, but now some of these women are becoming fixtures.  I may even have to meet two of them this visit.  That kind of bugs me.  I'm sure neither, I will believe, will be good enough.  Also, my bachelor brother has recently met a woman and she has already moved in.  I'm truly happy for him, but again - meeting her will be weird.  I'm not sure why.  It might be that I'm not able to accept the change.  After mom died, the two of them truly relied on me.  I am thankful to relinquish the responsibility, but kind of regret letting it go at the same time.

Due to our trip to Florida, and now this trip and various camps and sports the kids are in, I didn't get a membership to the pool.  Harry and Ella really seem to miss swimming, so when my brother-in-law invited us to his in-law's pool for a BBQ, we jumped at the opportunity.  I absolutely love taking photos at times like this as I get to really sit back and watch my family have a ball.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Harry's perspective

This morning Harrison, Ella and I decided to go on a hike before it got hot.  Harry was ready first and went out to shoot some baskets.  I helped Ella get ready and then headed in to the bathroom to determine which hat would best cover the snarly mess my hair had become after sleeping in the living room AGAIN last night.  As I glanced out the window, my heart stopped.  There was Harrison wearing my camera around his neck.  My large, wonderful camera with my telephoto lens.  It was so heavy for him that he was actually leaning forward a bit - his chin thrust a bit.  I yelled out the window for him to bring it in immediately, but because he is an ar-teest, he responded that he had one more picture to take.

When I downloaded the pictures from our hike today, I found about 35 pictures that Harry took while I wasn't looking.  They are all of our backyard which is completely unusable waiting to have the deck completed and the grass to grow.  

Here are three of my favorites:

I love the depth of field on this one - it's a nice shot of our hedge with a subtle reference to the neighbor's gas meter.

This is a shot of a piece of deck framing wood.  I think the weeds we just killed with "Round Up" two weeks ago have really turned a nice shade of brown.  And whenever I forget that I now live in the desert, I just have to glance at my backyard, which hasn't been watered in 12 months, to remind me.

This is a shot of the deck.  I was amazed that he was able to get some shots in focus while he was using a camera that was way too heavy for him, and had a telephoto lens.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'll just say it, "I quit'

The kids and I went to a garden up at the University of Utah this afternoon.  I took 125 pictures in a little over an hour.  It is an incredibly beautiful place.  Peaceful, yet still approachable enough that the kids could run crazy.  

Yeah, I know.  I'm a hypocrite and a loser.  Not really, but I thought I'd say that to avoid any "I told you so" comments.   Yesterday, at about 4:00 PM, Heather called to tell me that she was leaving the doctor's office and she had big news.  Her doctor told her to stop the cleanse IMMEDIATELY as it was definitely the cause of her sinus infection.  Apparently, doing the cleanse so thoroughly, and purely, from Day One, we actually shocked the hell out of our bodies and caused our immune systems to fail.  We thought that maybe we gave each other the flu, but have learned that each of our illnesses are unique, and not contagious.  I have bronchitis.  I've had it enough times in my life to know.  I've been sleeping upright in a chair for two nights, and probably will again tonight, because the amount of phlegm in my lungs is monumental and when I lay down it becomes hard to breathe, thus causing coughing fits.  My family doesn't dig the coughing fits.  So, getting back to the topic, I took the doctor's words of advice to Heather to heart.  I decided to quit the cleanse at 7 1/2 days in.  It felt great and awful at the same time.

As I look back on the last week I have several reflections.  I have been physically ill the entire time.  My fatigue was so dramatic that I was unable to work out some days, while others I exercised below my potential.  A positive thing that came from the cleanse - really positive - is that I have learned so much more about food.  One of the basic tenets of Kathy Freston's Quantum Wellness is to reflect on food and it's sources.  She wants us to think about where food comes from, what conditions it was grown or raised in, and how it will affect our health.  I learned that agave nectar rocks.  I'm not a honey fan, but love this stuff.  It looks and acts very similar to honey, but doesn't have the glycemic level that honey does.  I put it on toast (now that I have chosen to eat it), in oatmeal, tea - whatever.  The kids didn't even squawk when I put it on their whole wheat waffles the past two mornings.  

After Heather gave me "permission" to quit the cleanse, I felt guilty and thrilled at the same time.  I am typically not a quitter in the areas of food.  I would have stayed ill, and suffered the cravings, to the end if the other two did it.  However, when a doctor tells someone that it might be causing all the health problems I'm suffering, which I didn't suffer prior to the cleanse, I have to give it some serious merit.

After I hung up with Heather yesterday afternoon, I immediately had a Nutter Butter cookie.  It was the only sweet in the house.  After ingesting, it only took about two minutes - literally - for the headache to start.  I began to worry that every new introduction of caffeine, alcohol, gluten, animal products and sugar would cause the same reactions as when I quit them.  I'll admit that I had a few stomach aches last night, as I slowly added a few whole wheat crackers and natural ice cream to my diet, however today has been better.  I haven't gone hog wild.  I think that's the point.  I actually loved some of the foods I learned about.  I also still have a pantry full of quinoa, rice pasta and sugar-free marinara.  I will probably continue to enjoy these items.  I have always eaten fruits and vegetables, so this will be easy to maintain.

It's hard to admit that I quit to the world (all 1,000 of you), but I have to be honest.  I had a much better workout today than yesterday, and I have to attribute this to a more balanced menu.  Will I become a vegetarian or vegan?  Probably not.  I am definitely more aware of ingredients, and love legumes, so I could probably do it, but I don't think restricting myself to that level is what I want right now.

Chris and I talked after I told him I quit.  He refrained from finger-pointing and hysterically laughing, and instead agreed that incorporating vegetarian recipes into our regime would be great.  We have been fish and chicken people, but that's only because they're easy to grill.  I plan to find a great vegetarian cookbook (any suggestions?) and learn from it.  We also plan to cut out as many processed foods, and foods with added sugar, as possible.  That one will be tough.  Nearly everything has added sugar.  It's amazing when you start to examine ingredient labels.

I am grateful that I read the book and tried the cleanse.  It showed me that I have the tenacity (a small amount, but better than nothin') to take on something this huge.  It also taught me about balance in my life and about revering my home.  I continue to de-clutter and clean daily.  I don't have the maniacal desire to finish everything this week, but know that my entire perspective on how I want my home to feel, and look, is entirely different because of this cleanse.

I'm heading to bed now as I can hardly keep my eyes open.  It could be the multiple nights of broken sleep due to my coughing, or it's the shots of rum I added to my smoothie tonight.  

Balance.  I have to incorporate it into my life more consistently.  Extremes have never been a great idea, but they sure teach lessons.

Monday, June 23, 2008

It fell out in her mac and cheese (she's not on the cleanse, remember?)

I love it when they smile so sincerely for the camera. 
Check out that tooth!  When she closed her mouth it would still stick out a bit and she totally looked like a redneck.  (Can I say that about my daughter?)

It was a full day for Ella.  She slept in till 8:30 - first time since last summer.  She had a 6 1/2 hour long play date.  She lost her second front tooth and can now stick a straw into her mouth without unclenching her bite.  And last but not least - she got a large cut on her foot by getting it caught under the front door.

I, on the other hand, had a bit slower day.  My big accomplishment was mailing off my dad's birthday package - his birthday was April 28th.  (It's all about getting rid of stuff!)  I continued to clean things out, but it's a slow process.  I did buy some magnetic paint this weekend so that I could paint a wall in the kitchen for the kid's art.  I have decided that to keep the house looking clean, we have to clear the refrigerator and the cabinets of drawings and certificates. This new wall will be the place for birthday invites and school calendars, as well.

I have been battling bronchitis since last Wednesday or Thursday.  I had to sleep in a chair last night.  Not much better than sleeping on a plane.  I can't help but be discouraged that I have had physical ailments every day of this cleanse.  That, along with gigantic cravings, has caused me to do some deep reflection.

More about that tomorrow.  My chair is waiting.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day Five

Took a day off from cleaning and did errands ALL day.  The kids were pretty frustrated, but I needed to get rid of this stuff!  And I did.  I gave old videos and toys to my nephew.  We made a trip to the local thrift shop to donate a bunch of stuff I discovered yesterday.  We returned books to the library, and stopped at the office store for files and a labeler.  A LABELER. (I've gone to the other side.  The side of organization and efficiency.)  I returned things I borrowed and even bought some ingredients to make a recipe that might involve more than raw vegetables and dressing.

Cleanse-wise it was a bit of a tougher day.  I had many periods of craving things.  Beer, gum and something sweet in particular.  I've got a chest cold.  Sore throat and coughing.  I also got headache this afternoon, but it was short-lived.  Sleep has also been a bit of a problem - I can't fall asleep very easily and wake up often.  

The kids are being really patient.  I keep telling them that I'm just trying to give my body a break, and become more aware of what I'm eating.  Harrison just thinks it's weird.  Today he said something like, "Mama just eats vegetables and other garbage."  We took them to the park tonight to romp in the stream again at the park.  They needed the break!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I may have gone a bit overboard

I'm still cleaning my bedroom.  Feeling much better today with only one incident of cramping and fatigue after playing too much at the park with the kids.  Oh, and I'm not hungry.  I still have some cravings, but they aren't terrible.

So in Quantum Wellness  is a chapter called, "Your Nest - Creating a Magical Environment".  In particular, this chapter hit home.  Kathy Freston says, "Your physical environment is an extension of your body and mind, and it will reflect what's going on with you - and vice versa."  So basically, if you're home doesn't get a lot of light, and you've been feeling depressed, she feels there is a strong connection.  At first glance this seems a little flighty, but after I read some more of the examples I was convinced.  "You can walk through a door and feel soured by the energy that is all around, or you can walk into a place that seems to sing to your soul."

When I walk in my door I see clutter, piles and usually dirty dishes.  Our house is very small, less than half the size of the one we came from, and we probably have too much furniture.  Also, the interior styling is traditional.  Many of our pieces are handed down from my grandparents.  I used to be obsessed with getting as much as I could from my relatives.  I have gorgeous crystal lamps, a beautiful side board that holds my ALCOHOL and a cool barrel table with a leather top.  

I was raised in an extremely contemporary environment.  My parents furnished with Scandinavian design.  Teak furniture, clean lines.  However, we did move into that house in 1970, so we had chrome ball lights and chandelier, and a bright orange and yellow shag rug on the wall of the sun.  I even knew at a young age that the rug was extra cool.  Because of this, I always questioned my strong interest in antiques.  After thinking about it for awhile, I believe I always loved the sentimentalism of antiques.  The stories and history behind them.  Especially mine because my pieces are from family.  An extended family that I didn't know very well, but loved to hear stories about.

When my mom died, two and a half years ago, my sentimentalism grew.  I added old family photos to the living room and took as many things with me that were hers.  I have all of her jewelry and many pieces of clothing.  Never mind that she was 37 years older than me and 4 inches shorter - I wore her Talbot's blazers with pride, even though my wrists looked way too long.  Over the last six months, I have really started to donate a lot of her clothing.  Chris told me that many of the things were "old ladyish", but I used to just ignore him.  Somehow I finally realized that I didn't need my mom's sweater to remember her.  I think that I may be willing to accept that with regards to the furniture, too.  Chris and I just sat and talked it through.  We can't afford to replace the furniture, so we will do this slowly.  I may start frequenting garage sales and thrift stores for great things that can replace what I choose to part with.  This won't happen over night, but I do intend big changes in the future.

As I was continuing the project of cleaning under my bed, I cleared out all of the underbed boxes and used a dust mop to eject 40 billion dust bunnies.  I kept avoiding a small, white box.  Dusting around it, and finally - late this afternoon - I pulled it out.  It was the last thing under there.  Some of my mother's cremated remains.  Gross, I know.  We spread her ashes last June when I went back to my dad's in Minnesota.  There is a ashes-spreading-garden-remembrance-area at the church I grew up in.  They also put up a plaque inside the church so you have a place to go and remember if you like.  I couldn't spread any ashes.  My dad, brother and husband did, though.  The whole idea, when it was right there in front of me, really bothered me.  My dad decided to save some of the ashes and split them into baggies (YES, he really did this) and gave me a bag.  To save.  Under my bed.  So when I found the box, with the baggie inside, today I thought about the reason I had it there.  I think I have my mother under my bed because my dad gave her to me.  Just like the barrel table and the crystal lamps.  

I called Heather to ask her what I should do with my mother.  She asked me what I thought I wanted to do.  I said, "I want to throw her away."  Heather kind of freaked and told me that I should spread her ashes somewhere beautiful.  I told her about last June and said that I couldn't do it.  So, we talked it through and decided that a part of this cleansing process involved getting rid of things that bring us down.  My mom - under my bed - bugs the shit out of me.  So I told her that I would close the box up tight and put it in the recycling bin (which is drier and cleaner) in case I changed my mind.  She hung up in total agreement that this would help rid me of the memories of my mom's terrible death.

So I picked her up and carried her outside to the driveway where the cans are.  Harrison was playing basketball with a neighbor kid who looked very strangely at me as I put the box in the can.  Inside, I was all - hey buddy, leave me alone.  It's just a box!

About 45 minutes later the phone rang.  It was Heather frantically asking if I had thrown my mother in the garbage.  "Of course I did - you told me to."  "Well, I changed my mind.  Go get her.  I'll go with you and we'll take her to a mountain top and spread her ashes together."  I think what really happened is that her husband found out what we were up to and couldn't believe it.  He made her call me back.

So, my bedroom is cleaner and my mom is still under my bed.  It's a compromise.  Just like the furniture for now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I really miss gum

About 45 minutes ago (it's 9:08 PM) I started feeling better.  I was extremely fatigued today and had a lot of stomach cramping.  

I Googled "side effects of a cleanse", and everything similar to that, this afternoon because I was starting to think that I couldn't take it much more.  There is a lot of crazy stuff out there.  All kinds of cleanses and all kinds of ideas about them.  I found on the Mayo Clinic site that they don't think they do any good.  I also got a peek into the vegan world and it was interesting to read the positives and negatives.  No one seems to have a subtle opinion about this subject.

When Chris found out that I was sick all day again he questioned my sanity.  He agrees with many of you that I should have eased into this, but then we had a discussion about drug or alcohol addicts.  Cold turkey is always the way they stop.  I have a tiny glimpse into how it must feel to be suffering through a hard drug withdrawal.  I explained again that this wasn't a diet, but a cleanse - a chance for my body to take a break and rejuvenate.  It's also a chance for me to think more thoroughly about my food choices.  After shopping for items that fit into this cleanse, I have learned so much.  There is so much junk in our food.  

For example, Chris ate beans and rice with me tonight, but added a leftover breast of chicken and then had some ice cream for dessert.  He read the side of the carton and told me that it was "Sugar Free", but I reminded him that I couldn't have artificial sweeteners or dairy.  As he started reading the ingredients, he came upon "sorbitol" and this is what it said as a disclaimer "Sensitive individuals may experience a laxative effect from excess consumption of this ingredient."  I think that got him thinking a bit.

I also want to think about cleansing other areas in my life.  I'm too tired to get into it tonight, but there is a great chapter in the book Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston about how to balance your entire life.  Eating has always been an issue for me.  I'm hoping this cleanse will allow me to find some answers in that area.  However, organization and efficiency are also large barriers to success for me.  I'm hoping to utilize many of Kathy's ideas to help my life become more balanced and peaceful.

Today I started cleaning under my bed.  You have no idea how much crap is under there.  It's a start.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm definitely cleansed, baby.

Before:  Long hair 

After:  Short hair - MUCH happier, see?

Will this day ever end?  I am still really sick.  Feels like the flu.  Bad stomach stuff this morning till about 11:30 AM (ie. running to the bathroom several times to excrete my toxins) and then I was left with a sore stomach and a general flu-like feeling.  Took more ibuprofen and felt better.  Ate very little today.

Ella was on a play date and poor Harrison had to lay around with me.  I finally thought I had enough energy to get him to the barber for a summer do.  He loved it at first and then, about 10 minutes after, said, "I wish I had my long hair back."  It's adorable, but I felt really sad for him.  

Spoke with Heather and she got the headache and nauseousness today.  In a sick, mean way I was relieved.  It means I'm not alone in this healthy misery.

i am so sick

I'm in bed writing this...feeling like my insides are more than a tad kiddie-wompus. (Is that a word?)  I'm also sore, achy and lethargic.

I found this article and hope it is accurate.  If these symptoms last more than a day - I don't know how I can do this.

Cross your fingers.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cleanse Day One - play by play

Fond memories of sitting on these chairs drinking alcohol and eating gluten

8:04 AM  
Breakfast:  No coffee, no yogurt, no cereal.  I am seriously addicted to cereal.  I eat it as a snack throughout the day - Life and Kashi's Go Lean are my favorites.  Yogurt is my only dairy besides ice cream.  My morning cup of yogurt is routine.  Almost essential.  And then there is coffee.  Remarkably, coffee is less important to me than the other two, but I still truly miss it.

I forgot to buy lemons for my water and some green tea.  I found another website, but it just kind of makes me feel like I'm part of a weird club.

2:44 PM
Lunch:  Kept busy teaching the kids how to clean a kitchen floor so I didn't eat until late.  Harry cried (it was an amazing dramatic achievement) the entire time he was vacuuming the floor. You should have heard him when I asked him to continue into the back hall!  Made a salad with tomatoes, red peppers and romaine lettuce.  Poured this AMAZING stuff I found at Costco - Fresh Accents by Aromatica Organics - over the top.  It is a "...versatile blend of nuts seeds, dried cranberries, vegetables, garlic and onions."  I also snacked on soy nuts which I am finding a bit addicting.  I also had a corn tortilla with Hot Chipotle hummus.  After this I was definitely looking for sugar.  Ate some grapes and actually feel like the craving has passed.

6:46 PM
Dinner:  Worked out twice today.  This wasn't intentional.  I use a trainer weekly and thought our appointment was at noon, but it wasn't till 1:00 PM.  I couldn't find a sitter and asked if I could do a playdate swap with my friend, Kristin, who has kids the same age.  Since I had coverage for the kids I decided to just stay and do some cardio.  My trainer switched our time to 4:00 PM and I did some strength training with her for an hour then.  Right in the middle of my session, I got a searing headache.  First side effect, I suppose.  I was pretty hungry when I got home.  I made myself another salad, but added black beans on top.  I also had some soy nuts and tried my bread with almond butter.  It didn't taste like cardboard!  After that "meal" I have to admit I was craving sugar and coffee.  I decided a shower would distract me, which it did.

9:17 PM
Headache got really bad about an hour ago.  Took some ibuprofen - it probably has sugar in it - but I needed some relief.  Headache isn't gone, but much better.  I'm exhausted and heading to bed early.

Overall - not too bad.  I definitely need to try a larger variety of foods tomorrow.

So?  Who's joining me????

Sunday, June 15, 2008

On a positive note, it will be better than fasting and I won't have to count any points.

A little over a week ago, Heather mentioned that she had been reading the book Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston. I believe she heard about it on Oprah.  It's a comprehensive approach to bringing about balance and positiveness to your life.  One of the things that the author suggests is doing a 21 day cleanse.  My first reaction was obvious.  What?  Give up caffeine, sugar and alcohol?  What's left? However, after further discussion - and reading the book myself - I am ready to take on the challenge.

I explained to the kids what I was going to be doing and asked them if they wanted to join me.  They ran screaming "Noooooooo!!!" from the room.  I coerced Ella back and asked her if she would at least accompany me to Costco so I could purchase enormous amounts of fruits, nuts and vegetables.  She agreed only because she likes it when the processed chicken nuggets are out for sampling.

Afterwards we headed to Whole Foods to buy gluten-free, sugar-free products that might somehow accommodate my need for snacking on crunchy, bread/cracker/cereal-like products.  There aren't any.  Every time I found something that looked good, and was gluten-free, it had sugar in it.  I stumped two workers in my quest for these items.  Both gentlemen asked me why I would take on such a diet.  They assumed I was sick.  I found that pretty interesting as I didn't think that what I will be attempting to do is that terribly crazy.  

The guy from the bakery department was determined to help me find something.  Anything.  We finally found some bread.  I asked him what it tasted like, and without skipping a beat, he replied, "Cardboard."  I told him I had agave nectar, so I could slap some of that on it and I'd be good to go.  ( I am not supposed to have molasses, honey or artificial sweeteners, but I can have agave nectar and stevia.)  He actually knew what I was talking about and told me that it would definitely help.  As he handed me the bag, I noticed that there was a packet of some sort inside the bag.  Kind of like the small, square pouchy-things that you might find in a box of new shoes.   I asked him about it and he paused, looked around then kind of whispered to me.  "Actually, this bread has a shelf like of a year.  It's double-wrapped and has some nitric something or other in it.  Just don't let it sit on the counter - mold will grow within three days of opening it."
Sounds healthy.

I did about three laps around the store finding sugar-free marinara sauce, rice flour spaghetti, "veggie" macaroni noodles among other WONDERFUL food items that I'll be indulging in for three weeks.

I unpacked the goodies on the counter to show everyone what I got.  Not a lot of interest from anyone.  I told them all that these were MY things - they had to eat their sugared, glutened, caffeined products - they weren't allowed to go near mine.  The glazed over looks I received calmed me down.  No one will touch my stuff.  I'm pretty sure the Nutter Butters will look more attractive.

I am actually looking forward to this.  It is supposed to help my body heal itself from all the toxins that have built up inside of it.  (My liver, especially, will LOVE this little break.)  

I'm pumped for this now, but know that it's going to be tough.  I bought the most beautiful fruits and vegetables I could find.  I'm hoping that will help this be a bit easier.

Tonight?  I had a final Ben and Jerry's "Chubby Hubby" pint.  The whole damn thing.  I'm sick to my stomach, but happy.  That's good, right?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Paradise lost

Yesterday I dragged the kids out of bed and took them to the beach before they had a chance to even blink.  I wanted to experience the beach at every possible time of day - and after sitting there last night at midnight listening to the surf - I believe I accomplished that!

We're leaving this morning and all of us are so sad.  It was a perfect vacation.  Except for not having Chris with us.  

Next year.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

She's much more daring than I am

Being the oldest person on this trip to Destin has been trying at times.  I pride myself on acting and feeling younger than I am, but I'm usually not tested for days on end.  Here - one big test.  Fun, fun, fun - all day and night long.  It's hard to keep up.  Our days start slowly with computer time or the Wii, and then we meander down to the pool just as the sun is highest in the sky.  I'm trying out for "Most Responsible Mom" so of course I lather my Scandanavian, fair skinned, blond children before they step into the pool for hours on end, or play on the whitest, most reflective sand I've ever seen.  Some might say that the kids are a little, um, cooked.  I prefer to say they have some "healthy color".

After pool or beach time, we usually stroll up for a snack and a nap.  This is followed by happy hour and dinner preparation.  After the kids are asleep, we've even gone swimming down at the pool a few times.  This is when I start to peter out.  I can't keep up as about 10:00 PM, when the youngsters are just gearing up, I'm shuffling down the hall to my room to collapse from the long and tedious day.

Today, we decided to change things up a bit and this old chick out did herself.  We threw in a field trip to "Just Chute Me" - a parasailing company.  I figured the name was an omen and made my final decision at the dock.  No way.  No how.  Was ANYONE going to get me to go 800 feet in the sky.  How stupid do my friends think I am?  "It's easy," they commented and "It's peaceful."  Sure, that's how I define "peace" - strapping myself into a nylon strap diaper, attaching myself to a single rope and then getting propelled up into the sky behind a boat that is traveling over shark and sting ray infested waters.  Sure.  "Peace".

Then Ella got involved.  "C'mon, Mama - let's go in the sky," and I melted.  I figured it would be a good mother-daughter bonding activity.  Kind of like scrapbooking.

Monday, June 09, 2008

I'm so lucky

This is where I get to be this week.  Destin, FL

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

It seemed like a great idea at the time

My mom was awesome. Always available.  Loyal to a fault.  However, she never once did a craft project with us.  She did knit for us, and I vaguely remember a macrame' owl she created sometime in the 70s.

For some reason I have this latent Martha gene.  God knows where it came from.  For example, I made my own wedding invitations.  They were even three dimensional!  Who does that?  (I just had a brief flashback of me screaming at Chris because he wasn't tying the ribbons on the "right" way.)

I don't do a ton of crafts, but we've had to buy two IKEA storage benches to contain all the baskets of drawing paper, crayons, pipe cleaners and felt.  Oh - I almost forgot to mention the foam craze.  We have at least 3 million foam stickers - alphabet letters, Sponge Bob characters, miniature feet and hands - you name it.

Last week I decided that we should make presents for the kids' teachers.  Harry has two - each works five days on, five days off.  Ella has two - one in the morning, one in the afternoon.  Can't forget the lead after-care teacher.  She needs something, too.  And while we're at it, why don't we make their thank you cards.    

Here is a photo of the cards we've made so far.

  As you can see, we haven't eaten at the dining room table for about a week.

Tomorrow is the last day of school.  We're not done with all of our projects.  We have one picture frame to paint, and two wooden boxes to finish.  Also, our notes are not all written.  Oh, I just remembered that we need to bring homemade cookies to the Kindergarten graduation extravaganza.   The teacher is creating a recipe book for all of us to take home, so I can't cheat and buy some.

If this rain lets up, and we have to go to baseball practice, I may be painting and baking myself.  With a few gin and tonics.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


I always believed, since the kids were babies, that something magical would happen when Ella turned six and Harrison became eight.  It would become so easy to travel, go shopping, get things done around the house - all because I believed that their maturity and independence would allow this.

For the most part this is true.  They can now buckle their own seat belts.  (I cannot tell you the difference that has made in my life.  It's so nice just to get into the driver's seat without crawling across two seats.)  They can reach the toaster to pull out their own bagels.  They can cross the street if they PROMISE to look both ways while I'm watching from the front door.  These are all wonderfully helpful accomplishments, and I get goosebumps from the excitement of knowing that they are actually using toilet paper ON THEIR OWN, but it doesn't make up for the independent thinking that comes with this growth in fine motor skills and height.  

Both kids have become a bit cunning.  Harrison is more direct.  If you tell him that he can't play with his new handheld video game, he'll talk you into letting him play one of the "learning" games.  Never fails, though, that I'll let him play "Brain Age 2" and all of a sudden I'll hear the theme to "Star Wars".  When I call him on it - he just says "sorry".  You know how they say it...automatically and yet with a sing-song quality to it that tries to give it some bit of credibility.  It kills me to know that he has figured out that I can't see through the walls when he's in the other room.

Ella is more passive.  She will whine and pester to get something.  She lulls you into thinking that you are the most wonderful, important person in the world and then BAM! - you've allowed her to talk you into two play dates on the same day, a trip to "Michael's" for MORE craft supplies AND ice cream for dessert even though she's WAY too full and can't possibly finish her chicken.

Put the two together, throw in a public setting and my stress meter goes through the roof.  They giggle and whisper and come up with devious ways to terrorize me with the constant uncertainty that they could embarrass me at any moment.   I have tried deep breathing...I must have pushed that so much with Harrison last year that now he senses when I need to do it and coaxes me into it when we're in a store and they've put their fingerprints on EACH AND EVERY glass showcase in the place.  The breathing works for awhile - as does the valium - but the fear is ever present.  They are getting too smart.