Saturday, June 30, 2007

On the road again

So I've had two good weeks of running. I've made it down to the trail to run with friends twice each week, and I've even pulled off some decent, if slow, runs. Tuesday morning I even went out and ran on my own in the 'hood for the first time in weeks. This morning I managed to run four, despite the flooded trail, with Cristina and Anne. It was humid and icky, and I was sopping wet by the time I finished, but at least I finished, and I didn't feel too terrible.

I'm not quite ready to declare that I'm back to running, but it's a good start. I feel like I can legitimately wear my "Simply Run" shirt without being a poseur.

What makes my running success even more significant is that I've managed to run despite days of migraines. This is the time of year that I just get hammered with them; high humidity, heat, and allergies all contribute to the problem. The good thing is that I'm able to take Imitrex now. I wasn't allowed to take it while Iwas pregnant, and when I was nursing Ella and Lily, it was on the banned list. Now it's not; I guess they've done enough research to determine that it's not harmful to babies, or that it doesn't transmit in breastmilk. Whatever the reason, I'm profoundly grateful. Without the Imitrex, I'd have spent much of the last week in bed in a vicodin haze.

Today I have all the symptoms of a migraine - visual distortions, sensitivity to light and sound and smell, and nausea - but not the pain. It's an odd sensation. But I've taken my limit of Imitrex for the past 48 hours and can't take anymore until tomorrow. It's not too big of a problem since my head isn't throbbing.

At any rate, as soon as B finishes reading stories to the girls, I'll tuck them in and head off to my bed, too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Callipidders and other things

The other night I overheard the following discussion between the girls:

Lily - Look, Ella, a callipiller!
Ella - No Lily, it's "callipidder."

I wanted to cry and tell Ella she's never allowed to say the word any other way. She's already figured out the correct way to say binoculars. It used to be binoclears, which is how I still say it thanks to her. As big of a grammar geek as I am, I love the way little kids talk when left to their own devices. But I can't stand when they baby-talk on purpose. Ella and Matilda have been doing a lot of it lately, and it's driving me and Heidi nuts. The girls call it "silly language"; I call it annoying.

Speaking of callipidders, we have one residing in the house at the moment. Ella and Luke found him in the garden, and Ella put him in her bug box along with lots of leaves and twigs. I keep poking fresh food in to him. I'm living in fear that the thing will croak one night, and I'll be left to explain what happened. I think it's kind of not fair to the poor little fella to pull him out of his nice garden to cram him in a mesh-covered box with bits of leaves. His odds of survival are probably better in the wild.

But in the meantime, the girls are taking their jobs as callipidder sitters very seriously. Ella carries him around with her, and Lily popped out of bed several times last night to give us updates on his activities. "Now he's on the roof!" she said at one point.

I sure hope we get a butterfly out of this!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Windsor won

I ran the Windsor route yesterday for the first time since February last year. It used to be my favorite route, but not so much right now. My goal for the summer is to be able to run it comfortably, and yesterday proved that I have a long way to go.

I did ok on the stretch out Lake Austin Blvd to the boat landing, but then I fell apart when I found out that the water fountains there were no longer in service. I had been counting on that bit of rest and water to get me through the hills to come. I ended up walking for a minute to pull myself back together. I had to walk again on the steep hill. I struggled to the top to find everyone waiting for me. I did ok on the stretch along Windsor, even though I couldn't keep up with the pace. I made it to the gas station and guzzled water. I held on during the hills on Expo, only having to walk once. I was very grateful that there was a water stop, courtesy of Gilbert, at the school. I managed to drag myself through the last bit and finish running.

Cristina asked if I was glad I did the route, and I had to admit that I was, as miserable as I felt. It gave me a good starting point. And it can only get better from there, right?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"in Birkenstocks with butter in her hair"

That's how Barb of sothethingis described herself at the grocery store, and I just had to laugh. Many days, that's me - except intead of having butter in my hair, I have spit up and drool all over my left shoulder courtesy of my teething baby.

Take today for example, it's 11:15 and I still haven't showered even though I left the house to take Ella to swim lessons and then deliver her to a friend's house. The morning was crazier than usual and I never managed to find 5 minutes to shower. I've also reverted back to pajamas. I was hoping to take a nap while Campbell slept since I've had a total of about 10 hours of sleep in the past two nights, but senor poopy-pants decided he only needed to nap for 40 minutes. I had just dozed off when he started crying because he had a full diaper. I'm so tired I can barely type, but he's happily demonstrating his new crawling skills by heading under the desk and getting tangled in computer cables.

I've recently bought some new clothes in an attempt to look a little more put together. I figure it's time I stop having a wardrobe consisting entirely of shorts and freebie t-shirts. I bought two cute skirts and some nice polo shirts. I felt cute and sassy in one of my new outfits until I caught sight of myself in the window of a store - even though the clothes came from the Gap and J. Crew and I most decidedly don't live in the burbs, I look like a middle-aged suburban mom wearing sensible, wash-and-wear clothes. Big sigh.

I looked at the cute little shirts they have in the stores now - the ones you're supposed to wear with leggings and the ones with the spaghetti straps and empire waists - but I'd look ridiculous in the first and I can't wear the second because I'm still nursing. Even the cutest nursing bras don't go with spaghetti straps, no matter what Gwen Stefani might think. I read in a magazine once that she was a big fan of some brand that sold leopard print nursing bras. The article had pictures of the bras, but there was no getting around what they were.

So I guess all this boils down to the fact that I'm having a bit of an identity crisis. I'm 36 and a mother to three kids. It seems I'm destined to look like a slightly frumpy mom or a very ridiculous one. I can't decide which is worse. Maybe I just need to stick with my shorts, t-shirts and Birkenstocks. They're all more comfortable anyway.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Maybe we look like a crazy lesbian couple . . . "

I had just promised the girls hot dogs and baked beans for dinner and plunked Campbell in the bath to wash the carrots out of his ears when Heidi called to invite us to dinner. Eric was working late, as was Brandon, so we were both on our own with the kids. For the second time since Campbell was born, I ventured to a restaurant with three kids in tow. The first time was a disaster; Campbell was about a month old and cried the entire time. Liz ended up supervising my kids and getting them to eat while I ministered to the screaming baby.

This time was better. I kept Campbell amused with a spoon and some diced tomatoes and steamed carrots. Ella behaved beautifully, aside from a minor tantrum about lemonade. Lily, though, kept bouncing in and out of her seat to talk to Campbell, to talk to Larsen, to chase William. I was ready to throttle her.

At one point Heidi whispered that the woman at the table to our left kept staring at us. I whispered back that the woman at the table to our right was staring, too. My theory was that they were staring at William, whose face was covered in blue ink from the stamp on his hand he got at gymnastics. Heidi's theory was that we looked like a crazy lesbian couple. I nearly choked on my rice laughing. But then I took another look at our table and decided maybe she was closer to being right than I was. We were a sight to behold - 6 kids ages 6 and under and two moms trying to keep everyone happy. Even though we aren't a lesbian couple, we were definitely crazy for attempting it.

But as zooey as the experience was, it was still better than hot dogs and baked beans and having to clean up the kitchen again. Now I don't have to empty the dishwasher until tomorrow morning. Hurrah for small victories.

The Screamer

I joined my first swim team when I was 11. Mom had put me in tennis/swim camp hoping I'd take to tennis and become the next Tracy Austin or Andrea Jaeger (did you know she's a nun now?), but instead, I took to swimming like, well, a fish. She signed me up for the team that fall. I swam all the way through high school. In addition I lifeguarded at two different pools and taught swim camp and private lessons. I also helped out with the little kids on our team every once in a while.

After college I started coaching professionally. I was a graduate assistant coach for the University of Florida women's team and an age-group coach for Florida Aquatics for four years. I had the chance to work with every level of swimmer from five-year-olds to Olympians. I also ran the summer swim lesson program at our pool - hiring and training coaches, overseeing the lessons, etc.

When I moved to Austin, I coached for another three years with Texas Aquatics before finally realizing I just couldn't make a living as a part-time assistant coach. It was very, very hard to give it all up.

I say all this just to show how important swimming is to my life. I loved the years I spent teaching and coaching. I love just being in the water to float around. Given how clumsy I am on land, it should come as no suprise that I feel graceful in the water.

So if you had told me that I'd have a daughter who hates swimming, I'd have laughed at you. When I was teaching swimming in high school, I had one student who screamed through every lesson she had. I'd go home with claw marks on my neck from her clinging to me, and my mom would say, "I see you had the Screamer today."

It turns out, Lily is the Screamer in her class. She cried through lessons last summer but did everything the instructor asked of her - kicking with the board, blowing bubbles, going under water. Rich, her instructor, was great with her, and I felt like she made real progress. This year, she's gone backwards. She started out the lessons just fine - no tears, no screaming, no problems. But then last week the wheels came off and she cried at the start of each lesson. She'd stop by the end, though.

Not so this week. Monday she went from just crying to letting out high-pitched, ear-piercing screams every time her instructor made her go in the water. She even got kicked out of class early one day for all of her screaming. I was mortified.

I'm stumped about what to do. I've offered bribes like cookies from Russell's - didn't work. She came out and said, "I cried. No cookies." I've held the promise of Schlitterbahn out as a carrot. She really didn't care.

We only have two classes left, so that problem is almost over. But what do I do about her dislike of the water? I firmly believe that everyone, everyone has to know how to swim. I'm not sure I can teach her, just because I'd get too impatient with her. So how will she learn? Do I wait until next summer and sign her up for more lessons and hope for the best? Do I just let her figure it out on her own? Mostly I'm just stumped about how Brandon and I could end up with a child who doesn't like the water.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Willpower wins out

Anyone who reads this knows I'm very frustrated with my lack of running these days. I had hoped to be back in decent shape before the summer heat and humidity kicked it. But that didn't happen, and now running sucks. Campbell's still not sleeping all the way through the night, so it is really hard to drag my butt out of bed at 5:00 to meet the group when I just fell back asleep an hour earlier. But this morning I made myself get up. There's never going to be the "perfect" time to start back running on a regular basis, so I just have to suck it up and get out of bed and hit the trail.

I surprised everyone this morning by showing up for the first time on a Monday in more than a year. I am glad I made the effort. The run itself was horrible, but I got to run with Jen, which made up for the awfullness. For about a year, I ran with Jen at least two mornings a week, and she is my ideal running partner. She starts out slowly and warms up into the run. She's usually pretty cheerful, and she can keep up a good stream of conversation about whatever. Plus she doesn't get upset when I wimp out and need to walk for a few minutes. I had a good run with her. And if she hadn't been there this morning, I would have been trailing WAY behind Liz, Wendy and Daryl, who bolted at the start. I would have never been able to catch them, and if I had, I wouldn't have been able to hold the pace for very long. Instead of feeling discouraged by not being able to keep up, I ended the run feeling pretty good about myself and the world in general.

Thanks Jen!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

On Earth as it is in Austin

Despite being exhausted from being alone with the kids since Wednesday, I ended up having a pretty good day. We went to a birthday party in the morning, and I got to visit with some friends I haven't seen in a while. Then we went to dinner at Central Market with Heidi, Matilda and William, and it was a great way to end the day. I had considered taking the kids to see bike races downtown, but I decided that was a disaster waiting to happen. Central Market was a much saner choice.

The weather was great: cool and not too humid. The kids ran around on the playground and got nice and worn out. Campbell hung out in his stroller and watched the fun. Everyone behaved during dinner and then played on the playground a little longer. As we were finishing up a band was starting to play, and the place was packed with families and little kids running around. I watched all the commotion and just felt so glad to be in Austin. I'm sure other towns have things like Central Market, but I think places like that are harder to come by in big cities. Plus I ran into two friends while we were there - I know my parents never go to restaurants in Atlanta and just bump into people they know. Well there was the time my sister literally ran into David Justice and Halle Berry, but that's a story for another time.

Overall, it was just a great night to be living in Austin, Texas. Now, if I can only get all three kids to go to sleep - including the one who is sitting on my lap, reading this as I type and giggling.

It seemed like a good idea

So Brandon's been out of town for most of the week; he doesn't get home until Sunday. I decided I couldn't stay sane the entire time unless I got one run in. I figured I'd get up before the kids, lock the front door and put the baby monitor on the porch while I ran up and down the block for 20 minutes. I'd be within sight of the house the entire time and never more than about 30 seconds away at a dead sprint. I even ran the plan past Shelly and she said it sounded ok. What could go wrong, right?

Turns out plenty can go wrong. I decided to try out the plan on Thursday morning. I set my alarm for 6:00 and went to bed looking forward to a short run in the morning. But Campbell woke up 3 times during the night, so when my alarm went off, I ignored it. Friday morning, I was in bed decidng whether to run when the girls burst in and started jumping on the bed yelling, "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!" Since they were awake, I couldn't leave them behind to go running. This morning Campbell woke up at 5:30 and refused to go back to sleep. So I briefly pondered putting him in the jogger and taking him along for the ride. But then the girls woke up AND it started raining.

Maybe tomorrow morning the fates will align, but I'm not counting on it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Two down, two to go

Brandon went to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico yesterday for a business trip. He'll be back Sunday afternoon. When he first mentioned the trip, more than a month ago, I figured I'd be fine and I didn't ask my mom to come help like I usually do when B is gone for more than a night or two. She came when B went on his canoe trip this Spring and was a tremendous help. My confidence in being able to handle three kids on my own for five days and four nights began to evaporate the closer we got to B's departure.

The times I have the most problems are the morning when I'm trying to get everyone out the door and bedtime when I'm trying to get Campbell in bed and make the girls brush their teeth and get on night clothes. But we've survived two nights without too many problems. Campbell, bless his little heart, has cooperated and gone to bed without any fuss. And the girls have been so tired from playdates, preschool and swim lessons that they don't have much energy left to fight me.

This morning was bad, though. Even with Heidi's help in carpooling, I was overwhelmed trying to get everyone out the door. B isn't much of a help in the mornings when he's here. He, like my mother, is useless in the morning before he's had any coffee. But just knowing that he's here as back-up is a help. Plus, he can at least get kids buckled in the car while half asleep.

Tomorrow morning should be ok. We're not going anywhere. The girls don't have swim lessons on Fridays, and I'm keeping Lily home from school because her buddy Ava is coming to play. I'm looking forward to not having to wrestle everyone into the car.

The other thing that is keeping me sane is the knowledge that I have a babysitter coming tomorrow afternoon for a few hours. I have a work-related conference call that I'm going to take while camped out at the Roes' house. Then I'm going for a pedicure and some retail therapy. I just got my Danskin paycheck, and I'm going to spend a little bit of it on me.

Brandon gets home Sunday afternoon, and I think I'm going to hand him all three kids as soon as he walks in the door and say, "Happy Father's Day!" I figure the best gift I can give him is a few hours alone with his kids!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The list

I'm still struggling with Ella's behavior and how to handle it. Things got really bad Saturday - she threw a shoe at me because I told her to clear her plate and then dumped a towel on my head when I asked her to help me fold laundry. She ended up in her room, in her bed, banned from going to a birthday party. She was yelling about how much she didn't love me when Campbell, Lily and I headed out to the party.

In desperation, I took a page out of Liz's book and started doing research online. I went to Dr. Rosemond's site, and he had a plan that Brandon and I both can get behind. We came up with a list of five behaviors that just are not allowed in the house. The list is posted on the refrigerator, along with 8 "tickets." When Ella does one of the things on the list, there's no warning, no empty threats, no "If you do that again," I just go take one of the tickets away and put her in time out for six minutes. If she gets all 8 tickets taken away, she goes to her room for the rest of the day and then goes to bed right after dinner.

Brandon and I talked about the plan with her, and explained every item on the list, and she seemed to buy in to the scheme. Monday she did great; I didn't have to take any tickets. Yesterday, however, I took four in the space of about 60 seconds and sent her to time out before she could lose any more. It was actually kind of funny how it happened - I told her she couldn't do something, so she stomped her feet. I took a ticket. She made a nasty face at me. I took a ticket. She began to tell me just how much she didn't like me. I took a ticket. She said no when I sent her to time out. I took a ticket.

The nice part about the plan is that the next day, the slate is wiped clean and she gets all the tickets back. I also really like having a plan. I don't have to worry about what I'm going to do when she mouths off or stomps her feet. She and I both know the list and we both know the consequences. I ended up not getting frustrated or flying off the handle in the midst of her tantrum, which helped us both. I didn't get wound up, so she didn't get more wound up.

In the midst of the chaos on Saturday, I e-mailed a friend who has a daughter a little bit older than Ella for advice. She reminded me about the big picture - Ella will grow up to be a kind, helpful person and she'll go off to college some day. I needed to hear that. She also suggested having Ella stomp her feet for five minutes straight the next time she does it as part of a temper tantrum. Brandon and I both like that idea.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Children, children everywhere

Today definitely proved the axiom that it takes a village. I had children scattered all over town this morning just so I could be parent helper in Lily's class for the first time all year.

The plan was supposed to be simple - I'd take Lily and Ella to school with me, and Ella would go to her friend Lisa's house from school and I'd pick her up afterwards. The sitter was supposed to arrive in time for Brandon to leave for a meeting, and she would stay with Campbell until I got home.

Things fell apart completely. When I told Heidi that Ella wouldn't be at swim lessons, Matilda got really upset. So Heidi offered to take Ella to lessons and then deliver her to Carol's house. Fine. Then the sitter had to go to San Antonio with her real job and couldn't watch Campbell. I begged Heidi to take him for two hours, and she agreed. Then she called to say that she forgot that she had to take Matilda to art camp and asked if it was ok if Campbell went along for the ride.

I was joking at one point that I needed a color-coded chart to keep track of where all my children were and what time I was supposed to get them back again.

But as my mom pointed out, I'm very fortunate that I have the support network I do to make this morning possible. There are lots of moms who aren't so lucky.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The "mom" voice

Saturday I was at the Danskin site for an hour or so, taking care of a few things on my list. I had the kids with me, and they were well behaved, for the most part. But at one point, I was up in the back of the supply truck digging around for some things and looked up to see Ella and Lily almost dump Campbell on his head out of the jogger. I yelled, "Girls, stop it!" Then I heard a very small voice say, "Yes m'am?" I turned to see two youngish volunteers, girls in their early 20s, frozen in front of me with startled looks. They had thought I was yelling at them, not my children. We all had a good laugh about how they still react to a "mom" voice, but then I got a little depressed. I'm old enough that two girls in their 20s think I could be their mom. Granted, I'd have been a teen mother, but still . . . I'm not going to be able to make that claim for very long.

The funny thing is that I've been struggling with Ella's lack of respect for me lately - she doesn't even flinch when I pull out my best "mom" voice. I've been saying I'd like to be able to strike a tiny bit of fear in her, but it hasn't happened yet. But there I was on Saturday, terrorizing grown-ups.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Danskin . . . done

Danskin is over. I think this was the best race day I've ever had. If nothing else, it was better than last year's when I cried three times before 7:00 am, and only one of those times was from something touching happening. The first time that day was when the head of one of our volunteer groups yelled at me. The second was when the mean timing lady yelled at me. I finally shouted that everyone needed to stop yelling at the pregnant lady. Marion found something else for me to do after that.

Today started on a good note when I turned onto Decker Lane behind a line of school buses headed to the parking area. We can't get 3,000 athletes and more than 3,000 spectators to the race site without the buses, so we were off to a good start when they showed up early. The next good thing was that our new volunteer coordinator beat all of the volunteers to the race site. When I arrived, she was already in her tent setting out shirts and lists of volunteers. We can't run the race without them, so having her there and set up was key.

I spent a lot of time floating around, putting out little fires and helping where necessary. I got to see Heidi before her swim - I even walked down to the water with her wave. I didn't get to see her the rest of the time, though.

I got a standing ovation from about 30 women in line for port-a-potties when I showed up with a case of toilet paper. I also got cheers when I pulled extra swim caps and markers out of a box.

The best moments, though, were when I helped two women who showed up more than an hour after the race started. One had been in a car accident on the way to the race. I don't know what happened to the other - she was just late and in tears. I took them both by the hands and guided them to the swim start where I got them body marked and in the water. One of the girls - the one who had been in the accident - gave me the biggest hug, which made my morning. My other great moment was when I rounded up a spare goodie bag for a woman who hadn't been able to make it to Expo or to compete because of a sick kid. I got a hug from her, too.

At the very end of the day, I caught up with a woman I'd given a pep talk to at the swim start. She had finished and was thrilled with her day. Her husband took pictures of us together. And I walked another woman through transition after she got off her bike. She was a little wobbly and I wanted to make sure she was ok to head out onto the run course. I saw her when she finished her run, and she was so proud.

It's moments like these that make all of the stress and frustration worth while. One of Heidi's friends asked why I didn't do Danskin, and my response was that I get so much more out of showing up on race day and helping pull everything together than I ever could from actually doing the event.

This was my 9th year, and even though I've said it was my last, I really might have to go back for number 10. It would be nice to round out the decade.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Helicopter mothers

Apparently that's the new term for mothers who hover over their kids all the time. I've found myself surrounded by good examples of them during swim lessons this past week.

There's a little boy in the class after Ella's who is home schooled - I know this because his mother talks often and loudly about it - whose mother is definitely a helicopter. She was hugging and kissing him this morning, which of course I do to my kids, but then she told him that he was just her best friend ever. Ewww.

During Lily's class, there are a whole bunch of helicopters lined up along the one-way mirrored window that looks out on the pool. They watch every move their kid makes, gasping when the kid goes under water, cheering when the kid blows bubbles, and clutching their chests when the kid cries.

I view the time that the girls are in their lessons as MY time. I sit and do nothing, or read, or return phone calls while Campbell scootches around on the floor. Some mornings I walk to the bakery next door and get coffee or iced tea and a snack. But I feel like the odd woman out when I do.

Yesterday, I walked next door while Lily was in her class to pick up a sandwich and salad. When I returned I glanced in at the pool to check on Lily before sitting down. One of the mothers shot me a nasty look and said, "YOUR daughter is just fine." It was like I had been neglectful by leaving for 10 minutes. I just smiled and sat down to read.

I guess I'm sensitive to this because none of my mom friends are like this - none of them. We peel our kids off us and run for the door if necessary at gymnastics or swim lessons or school. We don't hover around, watching every single move.

If I were to tell Brandon about this, he'd just laugh and say it was my own neuroses coming out. He'd say that the mother probably didn't mean anything by her comment, that she was just trying to be friendly and helpful. But still . . .

I can't claim to be completely innocent of helicoptering, though. For example, it's only just recently that I've decided it's ok for me to stay in bed for a few minutes in the mornings while the girls get their own granola bars and juice and watch cartoons. The key to this change was remembering when I was little - I distinctly remember getting up, getting a bowl of cereal and watching Bugs Bunny on weekend mornings while my parents were still in bed. I decided that if mom and dad allowed me to do that, I could let the girls do it too. It's made mornings a lot easier.

Head full of sticky notes

That's how I described my mind to my editor the other night. We were still sending each other work-related e-mails at 10:00, and I was having a hard time keeping things straight. I feel like my brain is covered in sticky notes. The problem is that at least have of them have fluttered away, and I'm forgetting things.

Right now I've got my work for Holt; my second project with them just came on line, and now I'm trying to keep track of two big things. Then there's Danskin. It's this Sunday, and I'm way more stressed about it than I anticipated. And I'm helping plan the going-away party for the director at our preschool. My big job was to send out invitations, and I messed that up, big time. Then there's the house, kids, husband, laundry, bill paying, grocery shopping that make up the rest of my life. I just can't get it all done.

I'll be so relieved when this week is over and I can cross Danskin and the going-away party off my list of things to worry about. I'm sure life will be better then.

How did I mess up the invitations? I sent out an evite to all current school families, then I sent a printed invitation to a list of folks the director gave me. I copied all the pertinent information straight from the evite, proofread it several times, and sent out lots of copies. I didn't notice the problem until I received the first of many e-mails and phone calls letting me know that I had forgotten to include the where and when on the invitation. Son of a bi*ch. So I had to send out postcards to the list saying "Ooops!" and providing the missing info.

Right now I'm trying to make my life less stressful by giving up on working during the day when all three kids are floating around. My goal is to not even answer e-mails. I need to stop, take a deep breath and remember to enjoy this time with them. Work and laundry and dishes and such can wait.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Double poopy mama

Ella lost her freaking mind last night, just lost it. As a treat, I had gotten special cookies from Russell's bakery. They were flowers: one orange, one pink. Lily picked her cookie first and chose the pink one. After dinner, when Ella picked hers, she got upset because she had to have the orange one. She complained until I told her that if she said one more word Grampa was going to get her cookie. It deteriorated from there. I wanted to take a picture of my dad with all three kids. Lily and Campbell were willing, but Ella sat with her back to the camera. So Ella got sent to her room. When she started screaming and kicking the wall, Brandon heaved her into bed, fully dressed. We were then treated to a half hour of her screaming about how we didn't love her, we only loved Lily and Campbell and she never gets pink cookies. Brandon finally took away this morning's swim lesson as a consequence of her behavior.

At some point she threw a letter in the living room for me. It was addressed to "dlbl poop mom" and the inside said,

I do not like you!
I do not love you!

There's a picture of a cartoon cat on the stationary, and he has a bubble coming out of his mouth that says "You are the worst!"

Enclosed in the note was a scrap of paper that said, sic all:

To dlbl poop pee mom. I donot love you, I do not like you.

Later, after I had gone in and listened to her tale of woe and assured her that I loved her very much despite her behavior, Ella brought out another letter. This one said, again sic all:

You make me think you love lily 100% . You love me 0%, but you are rait it was not wothth it that I will mis simlesins. I am sorey.

There's also a picture of her with a sad face and a tear drop.

When I was in listening to Ella's tears and complaints, my initial reaction was to defend myself by saying things like, "Of course I love you. Of course I don't love your sister and brother more. Yes, you do get to pick the cookie first sometimes. Yes, I have bought you pink flower cookies." But as I was about to open my mouth, I realized it would be pointless to say anything. Ella wasn't going to hear what I was saying. She just needed someone to listen. So I stayed quiet and just rubbed her back while she settled down.

Things are better this morning. I've made sure to give her extra love so that she knows I'm not upset about last night or holding it against her. Even so, despite her note, Ella didn't get to go to swim lessons. I hope she has actually learned something from this experience. I know I have - I'm a double poopy mama.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Lazy days at the lake

We've spent much of the past two weekends up at our "Lake Place" on Lake LBJ outside of Kingsland. We went up Sunday and Monday last week, despite the threatening weather, and again this Sunday, which had perfect weather.

I didn't get to spend much time at the lake last summer. I got put on partial bed rest and banned from going on the boat in early July. But Brandon took the girls up at least once a weekend for most of the summer. They were lake rats by the end of August.

Now that I can go up there, I'm really appreciating that we have this little retreat. Right now it's just a lot and boat dock, but someday we'll have a house there, and it will be wonderful. Even now, in its rustic state, I love just sitting in a chair on the dock watching the boats go by and swimming with the girls and cheering for Ella when she jumps off the roof of the boat house.

Mostly I love being there because it's so peaceful and because there's no work to. Brandon is the grill master, so I don't have to be in charge of hot dogs. And the girls help themselves to fruit and snack from the cooler, so I don't have to make their meals. Plus there's no laundry to be done, no dishes staring at me, no e-mails waiting to be answered. I can sit in my chair, watch the girls swim and Campbell splash in his pool and do nothing at all. That's a rare luxury for me.

I'm enjoying it while I can, because I know that once there's a house up there, I'll be doing laundry and dishes in a different location.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Danskin, again

It's happened, again. Each year, I finish Danskin weekend and swear that I am never, ever going to work on the event again. Then Marion calls me in February and asks if I'm in or not. And I say yes. Last year took a toll on me: I was pregnant, Marion was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It was really bad.

So when Marion told me that she was stepping down as race director, I saw it as my opportunity to take a giant step back from Danskin. When the new director e-mailed to see if I wanted to be involved, I gave him a provisional yes. I agreed to help round up suppliers for things like scaffolding and fencing and porta-pots and t-shirts. And I told him I was only available for two of the three days of Danskin and gave him the choice of which two. He chose Friday and Sunday.

But now I'm slowly getting sucked back in, doing more work and worrying way more than I had planned. I've even had Danskin-induced insomnia the past few nights, starting at the ceiling making mental lists of things to do and check on.

It's a different kind of stress this year, though. In the past, Marion has caused stress by calling and e-mailing me, asking over and over again whether things have been done and confirmed and reconfirmed. This time my worry is that something isn't going to be done. The new race director is about as laid back a human as I've ever met. He just doesn't get fussed about much. And because he's not double and triple confiming things with me, I'm not sure they're getting done, and I'm worrying about it all.

I need to let go and remember that it's not my job to make sure everything is done. I'm just responsible for scaffold, fence, porta-pots and shirts. That's it.

But it will all be worth it in the end. I always cry on race day seeing all of the women out there in the lake. It will be even more special this year since Heidi is competing. My goal is to make it to the finish line and see her come across. I'd love to be the one to hand her her medal.

But next year, I swear, I'm not helping as much. Really.