Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Amazing Race: Family Vacation/Baby Style

We are leaving for our Floridian Adventure. In five short hours we will be strapped into our seats on a plane, each with a bouncy, wiggly, walking, babbling, busy, loud, very very busy, did I mention busy, child on our laps. This is our third plane trip with the girls. The first two, I think, may seem like a cakewalk, since they were much mellower (in other words, they didn't walk). I am praying that they sleep. I'll take whatever I can get, but for at least half a flight would be fantastic.

Why is it that almost every time we fly there is a storm covering the entire eastern seaboard? I hate flying. It really interferes with traveling.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

If You Are A Celebrity, Please Respond [And I Apologize]

Last night I had very, very real dreams. The kind when you wake up and think Did That Really Happen? Personally, I hate those vivid dreams and would much prefer my dreamlike state to be nothing but static with a white noise soundtrack.

In one of my dreams a person came up to me and said that she is a celebrity and she reads my blog. I had no idea who she was. So if you are a celebrity and you read my blog, reveal yourself. And I apologize for not knowing you in my dreams.

We leave for Florida in two days. That, I believe, is at the root of these crazy anxiety dreams. Sometimes I wonder if dreams are premonitions because I have had some bizarre dreams. I won’t bore you with the details, but I am very curious how this subconscious mind of ours works. Anyone care to condense Freud for me?

I skipped watching the DNC last night in favor of reading an article about moving out of NYC. Well, I listened to it in the background, but in general I just found it all so…annoying, I guess. I couldn’t help but cringe every time the camera panned to the political family member who looks like the Crypt Keeper. It would be too mean to name names, right? But her first name rhymes with Nah-rhea and her last name sounds like Strive Her. Or Schwarzenegger, take your pick. And I am sad about Elder Statesman’s emergency surgery and all, but every time I look at him I think about that whole accidentally killing a woman on Cape Cod thing. Michelle Obama’s speech, what I heard of it, sounded very rehearsed, which is a good and bad thing. At times her voice took that flat, preacher-like, droning tone, and you could almost see some little voice in her head say “Snap out of it! Add some modulation! Flap your arms!” And then suddenly she would flinch and talk a little faster, look a little flustered. And then cutting to Obama watching the convention in a “regular family’s living room.” He is just so in touch with the people. Ugh. I know, I am cynical.

I still am bitter about the whole all politicians denouncing gay marriage thing. Yes, I am holding a grudge. What is the big deal? What are they so afraid of? Exactly how will this tear at the fabric of our society?

In an effort to try to understand the other side, I tried to think of a scenario that might get my hackles up. And then I thought about polyamorous relationships. For the record, I have nothing against open relationships or polyamorous relationships. I knew a few couples that live such lives and it works fantastically for them. I think how lucky they are to have found the perfect person for them, the one who wants the same thing. Because it would real suck if I wanted monogamy and Nicole wanted an open relationship.

Anyway, so what if these couples/trios and adventurers wanted to marry? My first thought is “No way! Marriage is between two people. Two men or two women or one of each but two people.” And then I thought I suddenly sound a lot like the people who are against gay marriage. But the point it, it is hard for me to think of a marriage between three people or more. Imagine if married couples could marry each other and create a Super Quad? It seems all those people who are preaching about the slippery slope of gay marriage leading to furniture marriage and pet marriage and missing the chance to be ahead of the curve and start the anti-three-way marriage protests.

It would take some time for me to get used to the idea of three people being able to marry. So I guess it will take some time for the idea of two women marrying to sink into people’s heads. This exercise succeeded in making me a little more empathetic to the other side and a little horrified that I found this little pocket of non-liberalism in me. And I have a pretty broad scope of what I consider unalienable rights.

Pictured above, the Playground Set. And, do you think Avery likes her yogurt?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ladies and...Well, More Ladies, I think We Have a Winner

Presenting, the almost-certain site of Nuptials 08. It is a gazebo, which is obvious, in Massachusetts in Look Park, which is not as obvious. We really like this location and think it will be beautiful in the fall. Plus it is covered, so should the weather be inclement, we will have cover. There are little seats along the inside for Madeline and Avery to not sit on.

Making a semi-decision makes it all seem semi-real.

Also, discussions of the after party, to be held in November, have started. We have a couple of ideas floating around. To be honest, I was a little shocked that Nicole wanted to go all-out. Well, not all out, but she presented a budget much bigger than I intended. Seriously, I was picturing something way laid back. One thing I really want to include is having a photographer set up to take portraits. Like when you are on a cruise ship. With the right lighting and right set up and right camera, most of the pictures will come out great. I love the idea of collecting family and friends portraits! Plus they might like it too. I also wanted one of those old-fashioned photo boots, but that might be pushing the picture angle too far.

Pictured above, El Gazebo. Also pictured, Madeline and Avery practicing snacking (on raisons and cranberries) on benches in the park. The park in our neighborhood, that is.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

If There Were a Gold Medal in Anxiety....

We leave for Florida in a week and the flying fear has set in already. For me, this is par for the course: A week or so before and I start to get anxious, which manifests itself in myriad ways, not the least of which that I am just in a sour mood.

And I am annoyed at how inconvenient it is. Flying, that is. We drive ourselves and park in long-term parking because we aren’t going to lug car seats down with us (and Nicole won’ take a car service without car seats/we bought car seats to leave at my in law’s in FL). And getting though security, having to take the girls out of their strollers and take off their little shoes. Once the girls taste freedom, they are more than a little reluctant to go back into the stroller jail. And then trying to gather our carry-on’s and shoes and strollers and computers and bags before there is a bag pile up on the security belt. It isn’t the most stress-less thing we have done. Then it’s an interminable terminal wait. And then, after we go through all that, I am all sweaty palmed and scared and practically in tears as we board. And should the plane hit any turbulence at all, my heart goes into overdrive.

But once we are down there, it will be very nice. I love going to the YMCA because I am the youngest person there and I feel like an Olympic athlete.

I think wedding panic is ingrained in humandkind because why else would be in a panic mode right now? I mean, we are having the world’s smallest ceremony! There are very few details o worry about. And yet I am in a panic mode. I even went out dress shopping today. I didn’t find a dress but I found a beautiful cable knit cashmere light pink sweater. I have no idea what I’ll end up wearing, since it is outdoors and in late October. It could be freezing! But, just like the stress of vacation planning, it is a good sort of stress. Sort of. The kind that makes me do rash things, like drive up to Northampton over the weekend to secure a site.

To the commenter who asked about naps: The 9/1/6:30 arrangement was working quite well for us, like it was for you. Now they get up around 7:30. We go for a walk and play and have breakfast and then it is naptime around 10. If they sleep until 1, then it’s lunch and walk and play, followed by quiet crib time around 3:30 till 4:15. And bedtime is still at 6:30. My advice to you is to not try to keep them up till 1:00! Put them down for a morning nap at 10ish and see how long it lasts. If it is only an hour or so, then just let them have an afternoon nap too. The book we follow says the 10 am nap will gradually nudge to 10:30 then 11:00 and noon and then 1:00. So they will gradually get up and stay up till 1ish and nap then. At least that is what we are hoping!

Pictured above, delicious little girls!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Speaking of Speaking of, I am Going to Bed

It is 11:12 and I can’t sleep. Maybe it is because I drank way too much lemonade and my body is going into [fake] sugar shock. I have determined that there are four things that I consume that may kill me: My coffee creamer; my sugar-free double-chocolate pudding and the aforementioned “light” lemonade. All have that fake sugar. So I need to eliminate them from my diet, but I am very much not looking forward to that process. Did I say four things? I meant three.

Speaking of rolling with it, Nicole just booked two trips for work this fall: London in September and San Francisco in October. Part of me keeps trying to figure out what it would be like if we all went. How would it work? How would Nicole work, literally? How would the plane rides be and how about baby jet lag? After about two minutes of visualization I usually conclude the same thing: It would be too hard. The girls are still a little too young, and as much as I would love to navigate the Tube in London with the girls, it wouldn’t be a walk in the park. But then I think that will be our fallback excuse for the next 18 years. I don’t know. The girls miss Nicole when she is at work: How will they be with a whole week of no Mommy? I also don’t that that much space in our togetherness.

Speaking of us, I am also obsessing over our upcoming Very Big Day. Thanks Ellen and Portia for showing us what kind of wedding you can have if you spend a couple million. I won’t be wearing a Zac Posen gown because I don’t think I could take myselfseriosuly in anything with tulle. I obsess over what I will wear for the Very Big Day. I am all over the place, from cashmere and pencil skirts to mustard yellow strapless dresses (I think it would be a good fall color). I spent an hour tonight looking at different options online and it made my head hurt. I am also obsessed over were exactly to have said day, but we can’t get up to Massachusetts till maybe early October. Every weekend is booked or Nicole is away between now and then. There are a lot of little details that we need to attend. Not having these details decided or a location picked out makes me feel unsettled.

Speaking of unsettled, there was a minor earthquake in Tokyo today, where my brother and Mina and the kids are now, on the final leg of their Asia Tour 2008. All I can think is, what if that was just a foreshadow? What if a bigger quake is coming? Leave now, while the airport still has a runway.

Speaking of runaways (yes, I added a vowel), one of my students told me that he ran away and joined a traveling carnival when he was a teenager and stayed with it for 12 years. This is, believe it or not, the second Carny I have had in a class. I love teaching adults because they have much more interesting biographies than mini children.

Speaking of mini children, the girls are consolidating their naps. It sort of started last week, but this week they are firmly in the one-nap mode (about three to three and a half hours) with an bump of an afternoon mini session of quiet time in the crib (about 30 to 45 minutes) and bedtime promptly at 6:30. Having such a huge block of time is great; I can get so much done. But the change in schedule kind of throws me for a loop. I am trying to roll with it, and that is harder than it should be.

Pictured above: My fridge. Notice the stacks of pudding and the lemonade on the side. Evil fake sugar crap that must be banished. Below that, hair color. I narrowed it down to these two colors, but once I took this picture I decided that the one on the left is much better. What do you think? Speak now or forever hold your peace. Also pictured, a mini cake I made tonight, yellow cake with chocolate sour cream frosting. The cake was great but the frosting was not. I got the recipe from a book I just bought called Small Batch Baking. It features recipes that make just one or two portions. I think this will revolutionize our baked goods eating habits! No longer will we need to eat an entire cake just because it is there or 36 cookies! Now I can make a batch of four cookies. And mini cakes. And mini pies in cupcake tins. Also pictured, Madeline and Avery and stuffed animals in a box: Hours and hours of fun. Yes, Madeline is in a sailor top.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Dose of Perspective, a Political Rant and a Hug

I teach online and a new semester just started up. One of my students is a 34-year-old single mother of four, including twins, and she is about to be a grandmother. So she has four kids, she works full time and she is finishing her degree. There are times when I feel so overwhelmed and tired and woe-is-me and then I hear about someone like that who has much more going on than I do and feel so petty (and inspired).

Speaking of petty, these days I am not that happy with Barack Obama and that leaves me feeling a little politically lost. I am tired of his political locutions and his change ideology, which doesn’t seem much like change at all. Part of me doesn’t want to vote for him, but the alternative is worse. I can’t believe it has come down to choosing the lesser of two evils again. Well, maybe that is a slight exaggeration but let’s just say I’m really feeling the fringe candidates. Mr. Kucinich, where are you when I need you?

I am aligned with many of Obama’s viewpoints, but I can’t reconcile his take on gay marriage with my own belief system. He has stated for the record that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Well, he has also said that his marriage is between him, his wife and God. So much for separation of church and state. I’m not so much into having a third party in my relationship, unless it’s Ben and Jerry. They have proven to be excellent companions.

Obama has stated that he would not support a constitutional amendment condoning gay marriage. His excuse is that this is something historically left in the hands of the state. And state control of marriage has gone SO well, so why mess with a good thing? (I am being sarcastic).

What really pissed me off as when he pulled out that old chestnut of how he thinks a gay couple should have rights like being able to visit each other in a hospital. Is that the go-to example for politicians? I am so sick of that example. Maybe it has been my own experience but I have found hospitals and hospital staff to be caring and accommodating. Nicole has been able to be at my bedside for every field trip to the hospital I have made. In terms of her being able to make life support decisions, well, that is a scary thought. I guess I should be scared, especially since she has talked about upping my life insurance coverage. But hospital visits are really at the bottom of the list of The Rights I Want To Have, because hopefully I won’t need to exercise those much. And we have a health care proxy anyway.

But all of his rhetoric makes me think that he is pandering to the lowest common denominator, the people who hate gays and think we should burn at the stake. Like he is trying to mollify them. Newsflash, Obama, those people won’t vote for you anyway because they think you are lesser of a person because of your African American heritage.

Says Obama: "Giving them a set of basic rights would allow them to experience their relationship and live their lives in a way that doesn't cause discrimination. I think it is the right balance to strike in this society." Sorry, but that’s a bunch of bullshit. A set of basic rights? That’s it? I can’t upgrade to the Deluxe package? I would love to hear how Obama explain this to, say, his little girls. Strip away the BS ad rhetoric and he too would sound like a hypocritical, homophobic buffoon.

And I get that my views aren’t the only views in life. But this is about equal rights, and when it comes to that, I feel like things should be stripped down to the basics. I should be denied equality JUST because my partner is the same sex as me? Really? Insisting that gay marriage will tear at the fabric of our society is just ridiculous. Society is being strangled more by Xboxes and cell phones and Constant Communication and the Pussycat Dolls than by this whole gay thing. Bottom line: A murderous prisoner has more rights than I do.

And on that fun note…a video of Avery giving her first hug! Turn the volume down unless you want to subject yourself to us cooing and awing. And please watch Maddie, who acts like she is just tolerating this onslaught of hugs! Also pictured, my little readers.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Maybe Slightly Controversial: Audience Participation Required

You all had some nuggets of great wisdom in the last post. I completely agree that if you go through life with just a couple (or even one) true friend, then you are lucky indeed. I know I am lucky to have a handful of true friends and I girlfriend who I would qualify as my best friend.

Walking away from toxic relationships, one-sided relationships or otherwise empty relationships…where is the how-to for that? Some people make it look so easy. My nature is very much never to end a relationship, no matter how bad it is. I am beyond tenacious when it comes to relationships. This stems in part from growing up with a really really small and disjointed and basically unhappy family. You cling to everyone you met when everyone you met is an understudy for family.

I have a maybe controversial view of female friendship that I would love to delve into. I think I would be able to explain this better in person, but I will try to write it out. This is all based on my own very unscientific study and my own experiences. I do not like to make sweeping generalizations, but I realize that that is exactly what a person says right before they make a sweeping generalization.

Let me preface this by saying I always wanted a sister. Of course, I envisioned the idealized version of sisterhood: Sharing clothes and makeup and doing each other’s hair and consoling each other through the hard times. We would talk every night before we went to bed, even years after we moved out of the same home. We would lend each other support, money, clothes and furniture. We would be best friends.

So my sweeping generalization, my perhaps unpopular theory, my half-baked idea, my thesis here is that I think women who don’t have sisters tend to cling more to friendships than women who DO have sisters. Again, this is just MY experience. But I think I so badly wanted a sister my entire life (again, because I idealized sisterhood) that almost every friend I had unwittingly auditioned for this role.

My friend with sisters would do anything for their sisters. My friends without sisters would do anything for their friends. I am not implying that women with sisters are not good friends and I am not implying that women with sisters wouldn’t do anything for their friends. Follow that? In other words, I am not dissing anyone here. But I do think that women without sisters (who always wanted one) tend to place a little more emphasis on their friendships. Maybe sisterless women tend to be relationship caretakers—or groundskeepers, as Malea put it. Think about your relationships with women with sisters and without: Are there any differences?

Again, let me clarify that I am not saying that sisterless women are desperate and women with sisters are aloof. . I am not saying one values friendships more than the other. I am just saying that there are nuances here.
I will add that I am very interested in this because as the mother of two daughters, I want so badly for them to grow up and to have a close, loving, impenetrable relationship. A couple of my friends with sisters do have just that, and I need to pick their brains about how it works. My mom and her sister: Not at all. So no role model there. Nicole and her sister are polar opposites but they have a great relationship now, but didn’t so much growing up: A five-year age difference, and sharing a room probably played a big role in this.

I also want them to grow up and have close friendships like I have. There are a handful of people that I have been friends with for two decades and more, and those relationships are a part of my foundation in life. We have a history and a present and a future. I have friends that I talk to on the phone every day. I have a few friends with whom contact is less frequent, but that doesn’t change a thing. I have friends who would be excited to hear from me spur-of-the-moment and vice versa, as CD an SP wrote in her comment. The rest? Those are the relationships I have a hard time abandoning. Toxic house cleaning is in order.
if this

I know I did a bad job explaining this, but I am curious if anyone else has thoughts on this? What is your experience like? Do you notice any similarities, differences, patterns, trends?

Hot off the presses: Avery is feeling the sister bond. Today, for the first time, Avery went over to Madeline and gave her a hug. Can you believe it? On her own! We went nuts, which prompted her to keep doing it. And that prompted Madeline to eventually run away from her and hide in a corner, she was that tired of hugs.

The girls are gaining speed and can run now. They can walk up and down the steps in the living room without holding on. When I tell them it is time for lunch, they run to their chairs. The babble like crazy but other than Mama (which they don’t understand means us) they don’t make much sense. When I ask them if they want to go for a walk, Madeline brings me the Bjorn. Avery hugs stuffed animals and plays peek-a-boo. Madeline collects flashcards, hiding them in stashes around our home. They love to try on our shoes and try to walk in them. They are becoming such little people and I am trying to record every little thing here, since I am doing such a crappy job keeping up their baby books.

Nicole talked about the need to get a babysitter/mother’s helper and it made me feel sick to my stomach. We have free day care at Nicole’s work, but neither of us feel comfortable with using it, even in an emergency situation. There are only a few people I would trust with the girls. But that’s also another post.

Pictured above, Avery giving Madeline her first hug. Then the second hug The third hug. The fourth hug. And Madeline hiding!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

If It Walks Likes a Bear, Talks Like a Bear & Takes Honey Like a Bear…

I just had an awful, terrible, sudden realization.

A little background: When I was in college I had a friend that I was completely enamored with. No, not in that way. She was just a very funny, interesting, smart and I thought she was the greatest thing in the world. The feelings seemed to be mutual. We spent a lot of time together because we had some of the same classes and we were in the same program. It was an easy-going kind of relationship, but we both had other friends and circles and I was dating someone, so it wasn’t like we saw each other very minute of the day.

It took me a very long time to realize just how one-sided our relationship was. In the moment, it was all great. We would go to a concert and have an awesome time. We would meet for dinner at the dorm. We would hang out in the library working on papers.
Despite all of the time we spent together and all of the fun things we would do together, it was always me making the effort and me making the plans and me keep the friendship floating. I realize that now, ten years later. In those moments, I didn’t see it that way.

We graduated from college and kept in loose touch. Or should I say I kept in loose touch. This was before email was ubiquitous, so we had phones with answering machines and letters to keep the friendship fires alive. It took effort, which I was willing to put in but she was not.

There were so many clues: I would be going to a bar near her apartment and call her to see if she wanted to join me and my friends and she would answer the phone, but refuse, even when the bar was literally on the first floor of her building. She always had some excuse at the ready: “Dude, I am so hung-over and I can’t get out of bed” or “Dude, I totally would but my cousin is on her way over and I have to wait here for her”. I bought all of the excuses, and kept trying. It just didn’t occur to me that this was a brush-off. Besides, I am tenacious and not one to walk away from any relationship, something I used to pride myself on but something that I now realize is very, very unhealthy.

I think I finally got it a couple of years after we graduated. I was on a road trip and passing through her town. I vacillated over whether or not to call her. And then decided, rather suddenly, to just do it. This was in the beginning of the cell phone era, so I called her from my car about an hour away from her way upstate New York home. I told her I was in the car and passing through her town and wanted to meet up with her. I could hear the panic in her voice. The stream of lies started, something about how she was leaving on a vacation with her parents right away. She even threw in a couple of aside to her parents, who were supposedly urging her to get off the hone and get in the car. That was the last time I spoke to her.

The whole experience, stretched over about five or six years, just confused me. She acted like she liked me, but the way the relationship fizzled out made me wonder. She put in enough effort to make me feel safe, I guess, but not enough, in the end, by a long shot. Now, looking back, I can see how I worked hard to keep our friendship going. And I and see how it was so easy for her to let go when we graduated.

History repeats itself. That is my awful, terrible, sudden realization. Am in the same relationship right now. It isn’t exactly a shock to me: I have know for long time that this is a one-sided friendship, and I have talked endlessly with Nicole about it, and how it is so unhealthy for me to continue to put effort into this friendship when only a modicum of effort is returned. But I don’t give up easily. Have I made that clear?

I can say that in all truth I give up, and it took me a while to get to this point. But it hit me like a freight train: I am repeating patterns that are unhealthy. Who, me? Perpetuating negative behaviors? Ha! What else is new? And I realize that this person is using me, and that makes me a little sick to my stomach. But I also realize and have to admit that I have allowed it to happen. I can’t leave a barrel of honey on my porch and be surprised when a bear shows up (unless that it just a cartoon myth, that bears like honey). Nicole would see me dragging that honey out, and she would admonish me for it and tell me how wrong it was. She even said once that she was dispaoited in me. But deep down, I sort of hoped the bear would see the honey, leave it and just knock on my door and want to hang out with me, not because of the honey, but because of me. Yes, I am continuing this bad bear metaphor. It might have been a test, but I hoped my friend would pass it. In closing: Bear doesn’t want me. Bear wants my honey. And no, honey is not a metaphor for what honey sometimes is a metaphor for. And I have no time for honey-grubbing bears.

The best part is, ignore my honey and I will give you truckloads of it, just because you are my friend.

This is such a poorly written and meandering kind of post, but I think it gets my point across. My bear friend doesn’t read this blog so I could be specific, but I guess I just don’t want to go there.

OK this has taken enough of my energy.

I saw Nellie Olsen (Allison Arngram) of LHOTP fame perform stand up last night and it was great! If you have to ask what LHOTP stands for then you probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it. But there was lots of inside references and jokes. And talks of a musical heading to Broadway! That is one musical that I would pay to see.

Pictured above, Madeline and Avery stretch their chubby, chunky delicious legs in my friend Corrie’s luscious backyard. You can’t tell from the pictures, but her husband is a bit of a horticulturist so the property is practically Eden. The girls were so excited they didn’t know which way to turn!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Concerts, Mobs, Dinners, Dates, Girls With Brown Eyes

I feel so old. Taking an eleven-year-old to a Jonas Brothers concert doesn’t help. Isabelle wanted to get there early—it was her first big concert ever. So we were there at 5:30, for a 7:00 show, caught up in the frenzy that is 10,000 six- to eighteen-year-olds contained in one space. The opening act didn’t come on until 7:30 and the Jonas clan didn’t start for an hour after that. Such divas. The show ended by 10:30 and I was exhausted, but Isabelle wanted to go to the Virgin music store in Times Square for the midnight album release party, which the brothers said they would be showing up for. Since she plans on marrying one of the brothers, I figured we really should go. In my head, I kept saying “no way” but I knew in the end I would take her. How can you say no?

The release’s locale lead to an interesting exchange:

Isabelle: Virgin makes music? I thought they made cell phones?
Me: Actually, Virgin makes airplanes. But I guess you wouldn’t know that because you were born like two years ago.

OK, I didn’t actually say that part about being born two days ago, but I thought it in my head.

The record release (oops, there I go revealing my age again: I mean CD release) was a mob scene, literally. It was so crowded that Isabelle and I came up with a meeting place should we get separated, which was a horrifying thought but we needed to play it safe. We were up close, three or four people from the front of the barricade, but we had literally an entire city block of people behind us pushing. I really thought that there could be a stampede, one that we would read about the next day in the papers. I was pushed and pulled and jabbed and fondled and threatened. One girl in front of us was yelling to all around her “I swhair ta Gahd I’ll spit on yew if yew pash me again.” And she did. Nice.

We got home at 1:30ish. In the freeking morning. I didn’t get to sleep for almost an hour after that. We had to get up early the next day because I then had to drive Isabelle to soccer camp on Long Island. It was exhausting but she had a really good time and it was nice to see her so excited and happy and I was glad to be a part of this memory of hers. But I so don’t get the Jonas brother infatuation. The whole time I kept thinking of Lisa Simpson’s (yes, The Simpsons) and her Non Threatening Boys. That’s a reference we old people might get.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at a friend’s house with the girls and then came back to the city and went out for dinner with two other friends and a restaurant that was too loud. See: Another I’M Getting Old Moment. We sat outside because without a pitcher of margaritas and a few beers and ten years slivered off my age, I couldn’t imagine screeching inside the restaurant to be heard or straining to hear. It was so nice to get out and we had a great conversation about lying, mothers, marriages, and very pale skin. We laughed a lot.

I enjoy watching the Olympics but I am beginning to feel Olympics burnout. And seeing all this greatness of athletics makes it easy to lose perspective that you are indeed watching the elite. I told Nicole that they should have side-by-side presentations of the elite with the amateur. So there should be a swimming lane with a regular person like me in it, doggy-paddling down the pool while being lapped sixteen times by Dara Torres. Then you would really see that she is unbelievably amazing. When you see her swimming next to other elites, it is so easy to not see that greatness. At least for me. You know it is great because she is in the Olympics, but where is the perspective? Show a regular person trying to walk on a balance beam next to the gymnasts. Show a regular person trying to do a vault. It might make is all appreciate the athletes more.

Was any one else disturbed that the USA gymnasts all looked the same? All blond hair. Are there not women of darker hair or skin in this country that are flexible and strong?

Above, if it works are two videos. After yesterday’s playdate the girls feel asleep in the car like two seconds after I started driving away. On the radio was Brown-Eyed Girl and I thought it was so fitting, as here I am, with three brown-eyed girls in my life (including Nicole, who will say her eyes are hazel but whatever). The second video is them sleeping still because how can you get enough of such cuteness? In that video, Just Like Heaven is on, which also seemed very fitting. And a third mini video because I am having fun uploading videos. In all, embarrassingly, you can hear me singing in the background. Please, no judgements. I now my voice is off key! After you get over the sugar shock of cuteness and the horrors of my singing, you can feel horrified that I was driving AND videotaping at the same time. I know.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Eat Sleep Play Eat Sleep Play Eat Sleep Play Collapse

I woke up on Monday and was slammed by the Depression Freight Train. Well, maybe the “sad” Freight Train is more accurate since I can’t qualify for being clinically depressed unless feelings of crappy-ness persist for, what, two weeks? Let’s hope this is a short trip.

Anyway, so it was/is basically a combination of the Monday blues and feelings of motherhood failure and that sensation of being at the bottom of another mountain that I have to climb (yeah, that would be the week, aka, my reoccurring mountain). And a few other things.

Motherhood is nothing if not a chance to feel like a failure every day. Does that make sense? What I am saying is, this is the job I want to excel at and it is difficult because my managers (Madeline and Avery) are not very good at giving feedback. Plus, they totally overact at the slightest injustice (Avery screams if she is not allowed to touch my computer; Madeline falls into hysterics if she can’t open her toy backpack.) Children are SO dramatic. Sometimes their little overreactions are funny. Other times, it’s just draining.

And there are no short cuts. This morning I gave them breakfast: blueberry waffles, melon, cheerios and teddy grahams (the cookies were just a desperate shot to get them to eat anything). Everything ended up on the floor. Normally, after every meal without fail, I pull out the dustbuster and clean up the floor, wipe down the table and clean their bibs. But today, I am just so tired. I figured I’d let the breakfast mess mix with the lunch mess and just clean up once. So I released them from their seats and let them play in the kitchen while I cleaned the coffee maker and got the coffee ready for tomorrow, which seems like a priority. While I was distracted by coffee grounds, they proceeded to step on every chocolate cookie, crushing them into 1,000 pieces and getting them all over their feet and the floor. Who knew so few cookies could be reduced to a mountain of chocolate dust? So my little dustbusting break caused me twice as much work. See what I mean? No shortcuts.

I always feel like I am not entertaining them enough, or stimulating them enough, or taking them on enough walks, or arranging enough playdates (or any playdates, for that matter) or feeding them enough or doing anything enough. The books that give a week by week play by play all expired at a year, and I am swimming in the insecurity of “Should they be using a bottle still?” and “How much milk do the need?” and “When are they going to give up that morning nap?” I’m playing it by ear at this point, trying to trust my gut, and that is not easy for me. I sometimes get non-Organic milk and I feel like I am poisoning their little systems. I feel like I don’t give them enough food variety. I don’t change their little sheets enough. The list can go on and on.

So it was Monday and all that as in my head and the week stretched before me, sliced and diced into segments of wake, eat, nap, eat, nap, eat, bedtime for them, bedtime for us. Repeat repeat repeat. I love routine and ritual more than the average person but sometimes even I—the one who abhors changes and the one who craves order—wants to shake things up. My brother and his family are in China right now and I keep thinking that could have been us too. Instead Nicole is slogging off to another week at work and I am here with the girls, trying to add spice to our all-too-regular routine days.

It’s August, and that is my least favorite month of the year because it is the final hurdle between me and my favorite time of the year. I long to wear sweaters and jeans and boots and scarves and mittens. I have a lot to look forward to this fall, so I am ready for it to begin. We are going away a few times and we have the whole wedding in October and apple picking and Nicole’s birthday and fall foliage. I can’t wait.

I also had the horrifying experience of browsing through the barnes and noble website and seeing a book written by an old acquaintance. I was shocked that she wrote a book and even more shocked by the subject of the book. She is not a very nice person. Never was. She was mean and obnoxious and rude and arrogant, and she would admit that too. So to see her now, a writer, an author of a book, a fiction book with decent blurbs from halfway decent writers on the cover. Hello, Green-Eyed Monster. There is no money to be made in publishing a book (you have to me a mega best seller, like Stephen King, in order to really see anything other than a tiny advance) but this book has Hollywood written all over it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it is snapped up ad turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. To see another person (I know) accomplish something I would love to makes me feel more feelings of failure.

So this new author’s success lead me to start looking up some of these old friends and coworkers and acquaintances and seeing what they are up to. But I don’t have the energy/ego to reach out to anyone right now, because my biggest accomplishment is buying a new Wet Dry dustbuster, and that makes me feel a little inadequate. No book or big promotion or giant bonus or new job. I know, woe is me. Talk about dramatic. Let’s hope I feel like myself again soon.

Pictured above, the floor after mealtime. Madeline was clearly not in the mood for, specifically, cut-up tomatoes, mozzarella, pasta, chocolate teddy bear crackers or Cheerios. But you can probably surmise all of this just by looking at the floor. Also pictured, Skye in China picking out dinner. This is why I am happy to NOT to be in China. What would I eat? I would lose like 20 pounds. By the way, Mina said SKye's bathing suit cost two dollars.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

And Then I Start Thinking....

I don’t know where the energy came from, but at 9:30 tonight I dragged myself off the couch, took off my pajamas and put my clothes back on and went to see a 10 p.m. movie. It was Frozen River, and it was fantastic. Grim and sad and cold and bleak but so amazing. The lead actress, Melissa Leo, will get a Oscar nomination for certain. It was one of those movies that you watch and think how lucky you are to not be the people in the film. There was one scene that was so chilling and horrifying that I almost walked out of the movie because I didn’t think I could take it, emotionally. It was that powerful.

Now I am back home, in my pajamas and back on the couch and I can’t sleep. I think it is in part because Leif and Skye are on a plane right now, finishing up hour 10 of a 12 hour flight to Hong Kong. Because I am such a ridiculous flyer now, I can’t relax until I know loved ones have landed. I make Nicole text me as soon as the plane touches down. But Mina and Keith and the kids don’t land until around 3:00 a.m. our time, which is either tomorrow in Hong Kong or yesterday in Hong Kong; I can never keep it straight. So I am in this state of suspension, between tired and needing to sleep and worried and needing to track the flight.

I’m also preoccupied with wedding thoughts. I can’t even imagine how distracted I would be if I were planning a huge event with 200 people and as forced to select appetizers for a cocktail hour. I emailed a Justice of the Peace but turns out she moved down South. She recommended another, who I have emailed, but have yet to hear from. Enter those old impatient feelings. I just want everything set in stone. Yesterday. Before an addendum happens or the governor changes his mind or Mitt Romney some how comes back to Massachusetts and reinstate that 1913 provision.

I loved the suggestion of Atkins Farm, and love the idea of being married in an apple orchard, even if it is post apple picking season. It really is symbolic and perfect. Nicole and I go apple picking every year, a tradition we started the first year we were together. I love apples; I eat two a day. We live in the Big Apple. I like most apple products. I love apple trees.

And I like the idea of Kerry Lynn the Massachusetts Photographer. I really wanted to tale pictures but wondered how that would work, sine Nicole or I need to get the shots. Then I start thinking if someone is taking pictures, then shouldn’t we do it in the evening, when the light is better? Not quite evening but rather in the gloaming. Or in the crepuscular light (I love that our language has specific words for the lighting I mean). Or better yet, in the early morning light. Wouldn’t that be great? Sunrise on an apple orchard? This is when my head starts to spin.

And I still can’t sleep.

So I think of Leif and Skye on a plane and wonder how they are doing.

And then I think about Frozen River again, and how the mother was giving her kids popcorn and Tang for dinner because she didn’t get paid till Friday.

And then I think about how I asked the girls if they wanted to go for a walk today and Avery shook her head yes. So enthusiastically.

And then I think how Avery shook her head no, also enthusiastically, about 15 times when I was offering her lunch items. “Chicken? Red grapes? Green grapes? Purple grapes? Cookie? Bread? Broccoli? Cheese?” I do have a tolerance for her pickiness, since I am picky myself. As long as her little thighs stay chunky and her belly sticks out and there are fold of baby fat on her, I will be calm about pickiness.

And I think about how Madeline walks around all day saying “Mmmmmmoommmm” and “mmmmmaaaaaammmmmmma” and various permutations of the word Momma and Mom and how I love love love that that is the soundtrack of my day.

And then I think about how Nicole came home from work and realized she couldn’t find her wallet, so she called someone at work to have them check her office and it wasn’t there. And instead of panicking I merely went to her bag, looked through the pockets and found it and brought it to her. Because while Nicole is many things, she is not a very good looker of things. But we all can’t be perfect, can we? I will still take her to be my lawfully wedded wife.

And then I think how much I love this city, about how alive it was on my midnight walk home.

And then To Do lists start popping into my head….

Pictured above, Mina and Skye and Leif heading to the airport. The picture was sent from Mina’s iPhone, which makes me very very jealous. My iPhone envy has ramped up considerably. If only they had a Verizon package. Below that, the girls in their Double Wide. I have been bjoring one and strolling the other, but the past couple of days (ever since I slammed my shoulder blade into a drawer) I needed to give my back a break and push them both instead.