Monday, April 30, 2007

Just as it should be

Friday night, Ella's school had its big talent show. Ella's class did a group performance, which was very cute. After we watched her class and some other performances, we walked home with Heidi, Larsen and William. We also had Ella's friend Jacqueline, who was spending the night, with us. I laughed the whole way watching the kids. Ella and Jacqueline ran ahead; Jacqueline was holding her American Girl doll under one arm, and she and Ella were pulling J's rolling suitcase. They were running full tilt from corner to corner, with the suitcase banging along behind them. Lily followed closely behind, yelling "Hey wait for me!" every few steps. Behind her came William, who would have been yelling the same thing if he could.

As Brandon, Heidi and I walked along, pushing babies in strollers, watching the kids running, and greeting neighbors, it struck me that everything was just as it should be. We were walking home from our neighborhood school with our kids, saying hi to friends and neighbors, enjoying the nice evening. We just don't come across situations like that much anymore, and maybe we should.

Overall, it furthered my committment to stay in this neighborhood for as long as possible. It's the right place for us and for our kids.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Lie Still!"

Some of my great childhood persecution stories involve sharing a room with my mother. If I so much as twitched under the covers I'd hear a hiss of "lie still!" She was grammatically correct even at two in the morning. My sister Sarah and I both developed coping skills to deal with this. We'd lie in bed waiting for mom to roll over, then we'd quickly move to a more comfortable position, hoping against hope we'd finish moving by the time mom did, because if we rustled around a second longer we'd get hissed at. Our other option was to move v-e-r-y slowly, milimeter by milimeter, in the hopes that if we moved slowly we wouldn't make any noise. The worst was when we were half-way through a move and got stuck, either because mom stopped moving or because we were hissed at. We'd have to lie there, waiting for our next opportunity.

Our two-week trip through California in 1987 when all four of us shared a hotel room was excrutiating during the nights. I solved the problem by sleeping on the floor many nights. This allowed me to move without rustling the bed AND let me escape Sarah's middle-of-the-night thrashings. She was a restless sleeper.

We can tease mom about this now.

Turns out this was all good training for being a mom. My mom is here for the week while Brandon is on his annual canoe trip. Mom is sleeping in Campbell's room, so Campbell is in the porta-crib in my room. Last night Lily came in at 2am to tell me she'd had a bad dream. I kissed the dream away and sent her back to bed. Unfortunately, Campbell woke up. He didn't cry but just inched around the crib making little noises. I lay very still in bed, hoping he'd go back to sleep. After about ten minutes, I just had to roll over. He heard me moving and started yelling. I was busted. So I got him up, fed him and put him back in bed. I left the room for ten minutes so that he'd fall asleep and not hear me moving around.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech

My heart has hurt every time I've watched the news during the past 24 hours. The incident at Virginia Tech is just beyond reckoning. It's hard to believe that one person could be so evil, and I do think that's the word for it.

As I've watched the news I've had flashbacks to the Gainesville murders in 1990. I lived there when they happened, and it was just terrifying. Five students were murded in one weekend in pretty horrible fashion - beheaded, posed in scenes. The unknown was what was the scariest. We didn't know who had done it or why. Answering the door was terrifying. Pizza shops lost business because no one would order pizza for delivery. Cops would go to apartments in response to 911 calls and have people open the door holding a gun. We all went inside when it got dark, locked the doors and didn't come out until the morning. Even when it was announced that the killer was caught, people didn't relax much. Our safe little world in Gainesville was gone.

I still have nightmares about the murders. And when I get up in the morning and discover that Brandon has left a door unlocked, I'm genuinely surprised that we weren't murdered in our sleep; it's just what I expect to happen.

I was talking about it all with the director at Lily's preschool today, and I told her that the one chink in my very liberal armor was that I believe absolutely in the death penalty as a result of the Gainesville murders. I don't think for a second that the death penalty prevents crime; it serves purely as punishment. There are just some people who are too evil to live, and Danny Harold Rollins was one of those people. He was executed last year for the Gainesville murders.

It's too bad the murderer in Virginia killed himself. We'll never have any kind of answer about why he did it. But at least the killing is over, and the healing can begin, if that's possible.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Six going on 13

Ella's pre-teen years have begun, and I'm not ready for it yet. I thought I had at least four more years before she started acting like a teen-ager. As the picture shows, she's already got the pre-teen look and the attitude to go with it. I get the eye-roll on a regular basis along with the multiple-syllable "mo-ohm." We're so screwed.

She's started getting phone calls from her school friends. I'll answer the phone to hear heavy breathing on the other end, followed by a faint "Is Ella there?" When Ella takes the phone, she flips her hair over her shoulder and paces the house giggling. It hasn't happened yet, but I am preparing myself to hear her say, "Like totally Oh My God!" I don't remember calling friends or getting phone calls when I was her age. The only thing I remember was calling the girl across the street to see if she could play. We never had conversations.

Ella has already had one friend spend the night here, and this past weekend she had her first sleepover at a friend's house. She's spent the night with grandparents a lot, but somehow, this felt different to me. Perhaps because I know it's just the beginning of lots of sleep-overs, slumber parties and giggling girls. Sigh.

I called the friend's house to check on Ella at about 9:30. Everything was fine, but I got a little weepy when Heidi told me what the girls had been up to and how well behaved Ella had been. My baby girl is a big girl now, and I'm just not ready for that.

While I'm adjusting, Ella is already planning another sleep-over. Another of her friends, one who calls regularly, is coming over after the school talent show and spending the night. The girls are already discussing what to bring and what they'll do - and the sleep-over is still two weeks away. They may both die of anticipation long before the sleep-over ever happens. And if they don't, I may throttle Ella if I have to hear "How many days until J spends the night?" one more time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Look at all the pretty dots

I need an intervention. I've become addicted to a game on the Internet. I subscribe to an e-mail newsletter called Daily Candy. It arrives each morning with a write up for some store, product, service or Web site. Most days I glance at it and hit delete, especially when it's just a link to some site on the Internet. Yesterday's advertised a little game called Boomshine. I was procrastinating on working, so I took a look. Big mistake. Huge, giant mistake. Now it's all I want to do.

It's the simplest game in the world. You click the mouse and a dot explodes. This explosion sets off a chain-reaction of other little exploding dots. The goal is to explode a certain number of dots in each of 12 levels. I can get to level 12 without much problem, but that's where I get stuck. You need to explode 55 of 60 dots to win. I've gotten to 54 several times.

The trick to the game is that once you set the chain-reaction in motion, there's nothing you can do to guide it or control it. You just have to sit and watch the pretty little dots. I sit there and will the little dots to collide with the big dots, holding my breath in anticipation.

The killer was last night at dinner time. I broke away from level 12 to cook supper for the kids, leaving Lily at the computer. She had been watching me play and knew what to do. A few minutes later she called that the screen had changed and she didn't know what to do. I took a look and realized she'd beaten the last level and was being asked for her name to record her score. Holy )(*#*(@, my four-year-old daughter beat the game! Perhaps that's the secret. I'm overthinking it. I need to reach out to my inner child and let her take over.

If you're in the mood to waste some time, give it a try - Enjoy all the pretty dots.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I am the Eggman, I am the Walrus, koo-koo-ka-choo

One of my favorite things about being a parent came to me completely by surprise. I never thought I'd have so much fun being Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny - Ella just now has her first loose tooth, so I'll be adding Tooth Fairy to the list soon.

Growing up, I believed in Santa Claus way longer than I should have. Even when I "knew" the truth, I still bought into the whole story. Of course, having a sister who was seven years younger probably had something to do with. Mom and Dad continued to play up Christmas and Easter for her, and there was this part of me who was willing to completely suspend belief around those holidays. The fact that Sarah and I still receive presents from "Santa" probably has something to do with it, too.

At our house, presents from Mom and Dad and Santa didn't show up until after we'd gone to bed on Christmast Eve - even when we were adults. Sarah and I would go off to bed and listen to Mom and Dad carrying everything downstairs. It was as much fun to listen to when we were adults as it was when we were kids.

But now that I have kids, kids who really, really believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny, I'm the one doing the late night present deliveries, and it's so much fun. Christmas Eve, Brandon, Sarah and I spent hours after the kids had gone to bed wrapping all of the presents - different paper for Santa gifts, of course - and arranging them under the tree.

And Saturday night, Sunday morning actually, Brandon and I were running around in the yard hiding eggs at 2:00 am. I was up to feed Campbell and it was 35 degrees out, so I figured the eggs wouldn't spoil. Plus that way I didn't have to wake up extra early to set them out.

The payoff for all of this is watching Ella and Lily and their absolute belief in the magic. I cracked a confetti egg over Brandon's head late Saturday night and left the confetti on the floor. Ella and Lily were thrilled to discover the mess and came up with all sorts of stories about what happened to the egg - did the Easter Bunny drop it? Did he crack it and leave it as a surprise? Did he do it in everyone's house?

Ella also left a note and a plate of tomatos for the Easter Bunny, and I wrote one back to her with a drawing of the Easter Bunny. She was SO excited to find the note and picture. She has it hanging in her room now, above her basket of goodies.

I dread the day when the magic ends and the kids realize that Brandon and I are the ones behind the presents and treats. But I'll enjoy it for as long as I can. And like my parents, I'll continue to give "Santa" presents until Ella, Lily and Campbell are grown and gone.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Baby makes five

When Lily turned two, I started bugging Brandon about having another baby. He'd respond with lots of reasonable, rational arguments about why we didn't need to have another baby. I understood and agreed with every one of them, but I kept coming back to one answer - there was someone missing from our family. Finally, months later, Brandon admitted that he agreed with me; someone was missing.

Last night it hit me that we are finally complete as a family. Campbell ate his dinner before we did, but I left him in his high chair and put a spoon, cheerios and a cup of water on his tray to keep him entertained. We pulled him up next to the table while everyone else ate. It was the first time we've had the whole family at the dinner table together - all five of us. And it just seemed so right, so perfect. Campbell is who was missing from our family, and now he's here.

It was such a fun meal. The girls chattered to each other and told me and Brandon about their days. Campbell kept Lily busy dropping his cup of water over the side of his tray - she'd pick it up for him every time. It was just as it should be.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Running is my prozac - bumper sticker

I ran my first race since the Jingle Bell debacle back in December today, and it was great in so many ways.

The weather was perfect: 60s with clear blue skies and a light breeze. The course was pretty flat, with a few inclines just to make it interesting. It was also a small race, so I didn't have to fight through herds of people to get to clear running space.

The best part is that I was really pleased with how I ran. I had done a 3-mile course this week and had felt like I'd pushed the pace a bit. Then I checked my watch and saw that I'd run at abuot 9:15 pace. Ew. I was a little worried about this run, even though it was only a 5k. My splits were:

9:32 - my first mile is always slow. I need to warm up ahead of time
27:42, for a pace of 8:54.

It wasn't lightning speed, but it's faster than anything I've run in the past year and change. I felt strong and pushed the pace and survived. It gave me new confidence in my running. Enough confidence that I might start running with the chicks one morning a week. It'll be tough to keep up, but I think I can do it!