Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Don't call it a come back" -- L.L. Cool J

I made it down to the trail to run at 5:30 this moring for the first time since Campbell was born. He woke up to eat at 5:00, so I decided to bolt down and meet up with the running chicks after I fed him. The only reason it worked was because they were doing a track workout. I missed them at the Rock because I was five minutes late, so I went straight to the track and warmed up while I waited for them.

Liz led us through a boot camp-style workout, and I'm sore already. We did mountain climbers, squat jumps, suicides, and lots and lots of push-ups and sit-ups. It was exactly what I needed. I could exercise with my friends without having to struggle to keep up on a run, and I proved to myself that I could make it down there to run.

My Lenten resolve was to stop making excuses and just get out and run, no matter what. So far I've been pretty good about it. Last week I asked Lisa E if Campbell could nap in his car seat at her house while I ran, and she said yes. I had planned to run with him in the jogger, but he fell asleep in the car and I didn't want to wake him up. He slept the whole time I ran, which was a relief. I would have hated to finish to find Lisa on her porch holding a screaming baby.

On Saturday I shipped the girls off with their grandfather and went for a run with Campbell in the jogger. I forgot how hard it is to push that thing. I did a shorter route than usual, but I was much more sore. Yesterday I bolted out the door after putting Campbell down for a nap. Brandon needed to leave pretty quickly, so I didn't run as long as I wanted to, but at least I got a run in.

I'm encouraged enough with my progress to consider running a 5K on Sunday, just to see how it goes. I won't make the decision until Sunday morning, however.

So I'm not calling it a come back, just yet, but rather a good start towards a come back.

"Mama is mama!"

Ella had a really bad afternoon last Friday. I don't know what got into her, but she was just awful. She was rude to me, mean to her sister - just all around awful. I ended up confining her to her room for an hour and, I'm ashamed to admit this, spanking her - just one swat on her rear to get her attention after she turned her back on me while I was talking to her.

As an aside, if I had EVER done that with my mother, life as I knew it would have ended.

So after I confined her to quarters, I called Lisa R, pretty much in tears. She assured me I wasn't a horrible mother. She also gave me some good advice, courtesy of Luke's teacher. His teacher suggested that if Luke was ever terrible, Lisa threaten to tell on him to his teacher. Mrs. Fisher said that kids that age really don't like their teachers to know that the don't behave at home.

After dinner, I decided to put it to the test. Ella was being rude, again, and I told her that I knew she would never behave that way with Mrs. Spears. She gave me a very teen-agerish eye roll. I said, "Maybe I should talk to Mrs. Spears about your behavior, to see if she has any ideas on how I can get you to be respectful at home." THAT got her attention. The look on her face was almost worth the whole afternoon of trouble. She said, "NO!" in a very high-pitched voice. So then I suggested that she pretend I was Mrs. Spears and behave like she would at school. She fled the room at that point, muttering, "Mama is mama. Mama is NOT Mrs. Spears."

Then she flew a paper airplane out of her room that said (sic all):

Werst mom ever.
Werst mom ever!
I dont love you and I am crise (it took me a while to realise she meant serious)
You are the werst mom in the yeryod! (world)

It's a good thing I have pretty thick skin these days.

I told her teacher and Luke's teacher about the threat and her response, and they both laughed. Luke's teacher cautioned me to only use it in dire circumstances or it would lose its effect. I promised her that Friday had been that dire.

But as bad as Friday was, Ella's behavior has been better since then. I hope it lasts at least a little while. I know better than to expect a permanent change.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lily, Lily, Lily

To say that Lily's been in a difficult stage lately would be an understatement. I'm not sure what's going on with her, but she's been whiny and clingy and tantrummy. I had hope that it would all disappear when she turned four, but that happened two weeks ago, and things have gotten worse, not better.

I am trying a new approach to the clingyness - I'm smothering her with love and affection. Everytime she asks to be picked up, I pick her up. Every time she asks to sit in my lap, I let her. She's obviously feeling neglected in some way, even though I feel I give her lots and lots of love and attention. So I'm going overboard in the hopes that it will reassure her and she'll settle back down. It seemed to be working yesterday. I was sitting at the computer, trying to respond to an e-mail from my boss when Lily asked to sit in my lap. I took a deep breath and picked her up. She sat in my lap for about a minute before hopping down and wandering off to find Ella. If I hadn't picked her up, or had told her to wait a few minutes, I would have had to listen to five minutes of whining. It was a good lesson for me, in addition to helping Lily.

Despite the behavioral issues, Lily is still just a sweet, funny little girl. She cracks me up on a regular basis, even when she isn't meaning to. She just has this way about her that makes me laugh.

I took Lily to the doctor on Monday for her four-year check-up, and she made me and the doctor laugh. Unlike Ella, Lily loves her pediatrician and cooperates during the exam. She didn't even cry when nurse Cindy gave her three shots. When the doctor had finished his exam, and we were waiting for the nurse to come with the shots, Lily turned to me with a very serious look and said, "Mama, when we come to the doctor he always listens to my heart. Today he didn't. You need to tell him." I thought for a few minutes and realized she was correct. Lily was adamant that I go get the doctor to listen to her heart - we weren't leaving until he did. So I went out and told the nurse, who told the doctor. He said it was the first time he's ever had a patient correct him AND demand that he come back in and fix things.

Today we went to "ballelet," which is the highlight of Lily's week. Each day, the first thing she asks is whether it's a ballelet day. Dance is the first thing I've found that Lily truly enjoys: She cried during swim lessons; she cried during gymnastics. But during dance she smiles and laughs the whole time. It's wonderful to see.

Monday, February 19, 2007


We've had a lot of fun parties at our house, most involving the trampoline and lots of little kids. But yesterday's was the best we've ever had, in my humble opinion. It had nothing to do with us, though. It was all about the marathon. This year's route went right in front of our house, so I invited just about everyone we know to come over and watch, and they all came. I think we had 30 people in our yard at one point. And I had the biggest smile on my face.

The kids all had a blast. I asked Ella, Lily, Walt and Matilda what their favorite part of the day was, and they all had the same answer: being able to play in the street. The street was closed to traffic, so the kids were able to run back and forth without concern. Early in the morning, when only the leaders were coming through, the kids would scramble out into the street to draw pictures in chalk and then run back to the sidewalk screaming as the runners got closer. At the end of the day, they just ran from one side to the other, dodging the few runners and walkers left. They were all very disappointed when the barricades came down and the street re-opened.

Mostly, I just loved being able to sit on my front lawn and cheer for the runners. Lisa E and I stayed out until the very last walkers went by. I hope it helped them on their way to have people still out there to give them a hand.

I was also very proud of our neighborhood. From what I've heard, neighbors were out in full force supporting the event. My hope is that we did a good enough job to have the race come through again next year. I'd love for it to be an annual event.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Working from home

When I tell people that I do freelance work from home, they often express some degree of envy. And I'll admit, I do have it pretty good. I can set my own hours, work in my pajams if I want, and listen to loud music without bothering co-workers. I can also decline a project if it's not something I want to work on (not that I've ever done this).

But working from home does have its drawbacks. For one, work is always there, waiting for me. I can't leave it at the office. I have this work ethic that makes me feel guilty if I'm sitting reading instead of reviewing grammar presentations (my current project). So I tend to work more hours than I would really like to.

Also, it can be a bit tough to concentrate sometimes. Take Wednesday for example. I had a scheduled 2:00 phone meeting with my boss at Holt. Campbell was asleep in his crib, and Lily was watching cartoons. I had bribed her with the promise of cookies in exchange for good behavior. The first 30 minutes of the call went pretty well, but then all hell broke loose. Campbell woke up crying and wanted to nurse. So I was feeding him while trying to type notes and talk to my boss. Then Lily decided she needed to be in my lap, too. My boss started laughing when she heard Lily say, in her most pitiful voice, "But I want to be with youuuuuu."

As soon as I got Lily and Campbell settled down, Ella arrived from school and wanted to tell me things. And as if I didn't already have enough going on, the cleaning ladies arrived. At one point, I told my boss that she'd be in shock if she could only see what was going on at my end of the call. She just laughed. She has a five-year-old, so she knows what trying to work with kids around can be like.

I'm trying to find a way to escape from the house to work once in a while. Brandon and his dad just moved into a new, huge office space. Perhaps I can hire a sitter and take a laptop there to work in the bull pen. I never thought I'd long for the days when I could GO to an office to work.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

St. Valentine's Day Masacree

So I'm not the biggest fan of Valentine's Day. I'm not sure why I should get all worked up over a Hallmark-created holiday. Maybe it has something to do with Brandon and I having a really lousy track record with the holiday.

I think the Valentine's Day right before our wedding was our only good one, and we didn't even celebrate it on the actual day. Brandon had to go to a diving meet, and I had to go to Atlanta for wedding stuff, so we had a nice dinner together on some of our new wedding china a few days early. It was a nice evening.

Our first married Valentine's Day fell the day before the marathon, my first, and all I wanted to do was have a quiet dinner and go to a movie. Instead, we somehow ended up hosting Brandon's ENTIRE family - mom, dad, brother, aunt, aunt's partner, grandfather, greatgrandmother - in our 800 square foot house. It started out as just lunch, but ended up as a dinner party. We finally fled to the movies, but a mile from the house we decided just to rent something and go back home. We got home to discover that his mom, dad and brother were all still at the house. I bring up this day quite often when I want to score a point against Brandon.

A few years later, when Ella was a baby, Brandon and I planned a nice Valentine's Dinner at home. I bought yummy food from Central Market and rented a movie. As I was serving up dinner, Brandon got an emergency call from a client, and he was the only one who could deal with it. He had to leave the house immeditately and didn't get home until much later.

Another Valentine's Day was ruined because of a spat the night before. I had made a nice dinner and was serving it up, with Brandon's help, when he announced that he had to leave to meet a business associate for for dinner. I wanted to heave plates at him, but resisted. I also bring this one up.

So now we downplay Valentine's Day. It's just better if we do that. Last night Brandon brought me flowers and dinner (that he picked up at HEB on the way home, but at least he did something), and put the girls to bed for me. And the best thing - he turned off his cell phone and computer and took the night off completely. He couldn't have given me a better gift.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Poor Third Child

Poor Campbell. As the third child, he's suffering a bit of neglect, not from love or attention, though. I just have no idea what stage he's at or what he's supposed to be doing.

When Ella was a baby, I studied all the baby development books and watched carefully for all of the things she was supposed to be doing. I celebrated when she did things like track my finger or roll over early. I worried when she didn't do other things on the day the books said she was supposed to. With Lily, I didn't study because the information was still fresh. And I wasn't as neurotic about when she hit certain milestones.

But with Campbell, it's all gone out the window. I have no idea what he's supposed to be doing when, or when he's started doing things. Someone asked me the other day when he had started grabbing for toys, and I had no idea. This morning I noticed that he dropped a toy and then rolled onto his side to look for it. I don't know when he started doing that.

So poor Campbell. He'll ask me when he started rolling over, or when he sat up by himself, or when he started talking, and I'll have no idea.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ella Reading

Ella was chosen by her teacher to read a piece on Ray Charles for the morning announcements at school. She took it very seriously and rehearsed the piece at dinner the night before and at breakfast the morning of. I was a bit worried that she'd bail out on doing it because she was so nervous while we waited in the office. She clung to my hand and refused to talk to her teacher the whole time we waited. But when it was her turn, she stepped right up and did an amazing job. When I got home, Brandon asked how it went and then asked if I cried. I had to admit that I did. I told Ella later in the day just how I proud I was of her, and I think it embarassed her.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sisters, Part II

So my last post was about the fights the girls have, but they aren't always like that. It's been a lot of fun for me to watch Ella and Lily be sisters. They've shared a room since Lily was a baby, and a common bed-time threat is that we'll separate them if they don't settle down. For both, being separated is a real punishment, even when they don't like each other. Today they were fighting in the car, and I told Lily she had to go to her room when we got home while Ella did her school work. Lily started crying that being in her room wasn't any fun without Ella. Ella volunteered to keep her company, but I think that was just to get out of doing school work.

I went to Ikea this past week and bought the girls a little pop-up tent for their room. They've been using it as a clubhouse ever since. As soon as I set it up, they started begging to have a slumber party together in it. I made them wait until the weekend, which just built the anticipation. Saturday night I got them all settled in with books, blankets and a flash light. I was working at the computer and could hear giggles and laughing. It was fun to listen to them having fun. Unfortunately, it only lasted for about an hour before they started arguing over who had more covers and who was touching whom. But as much as they were arguing with each other, they joined forces against me when I made them get into their beds.

Tonight I told them they could read in bed with the lights on for 10 minutes. I went in to check on them after a while, and they were both in Lily's bed, leaning against lots of pillows, with Ella reading a Blue's Clues story to Lily. It was so sweet that I wanted to cry. Ella feels very big being in charge of reading to Lily (provided it's her idea, not mine), and Lily loves the positive attention from Ella. And I love seeing them together like that.

My friend Shelly once described her brothers as her first best friends. I think when Ella and Lily get older, much older, that's how they'll remember each other. At least I hope so.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Just when I thought I've seen every fight the girls could have, they surprise me. As I've written before, Lily has mastered the art of driving Ella insane. She can tell when Ella's on the edge, and she knows how to give her just the right push.

One of her favorite things to do it start whistling. Lily figured out how to whistle on her own, but Ella hasn't yet. This makes Ella so angry. When Lily started whistling, Ella came to me in tears and said, "I don't understand why you would teach Lily to whistle but not me." I pointed out to Ella that I can't whistle as well as Lily can, so there was no way she learned it from me. So there are time when Ella's upset about something, and Lily will just sit there and whistle a little song. Ella will start yelling about how Lily it teasing her by showing off. I ignore it most of the time.

The other night Lily came up with a new way of bugging Ella. We had ravioli with spinach in the sauce for dinner. Ella put a fleck of spinach on her tongue and declared it icky. Lily, on the other hand, gobbled it down. So Brandon and I told her she was like Popeye. Ella protested that even though Lily had eaten spinach, she still wouldn't be stronger, and then she showed off all sorts of strong things she could do. Lily didn't say anything at this point. But then she struck at bedtime. The girls were in brushing their teeth, and Lily started singing

I'm Lily the sailorgirl
I'm Lily the sailorgirl
I'm strong to the finish
'Cause I ate my spinach
I'm Lily the sailorgirl

over and over again, mostly because Ella flipped out when she did it. Brandon and I heard screams from Ella, then she came running out to tell us that Lily was teasing her for not eating spinach.

We were stunned that a. Lily came up with the song, and b. that it bugged Ella so much. Who would have thought there would be sibling rivalry over who ate spinach and who didn't.