Sunday, September 30, 2007

Panic mode

I'm panicking just a bit. I leave town Wednesday morning for five days away. This is the first time I've left B with all three kids. The last time I went on a trip was almost two years ago when I went to New York and found out I was pregnant with Campbell. How time flies.

The girls are pretty well squared away each day. Ella's in school until almost three, and Lily is in preschool every morning. Campbell's pretty easy to entertain at the house, but it is tough to concentrate and work with him noodling around. B can easily work from home, it's just a question of whether he'll get any work done while he's here. Which is what's making me panic.

He's stressed about three days of potentially falling behind, and his stress is affecting me. I'm almost at the point of cancelling the trip, which will just kill my mother and our friend Jean, whom we're staying with for the two of the days. I know that I need to get away and that I've earned this break (boy have I earned this break), but it's still hard to think about leaving for so long.

Wednesday I get into Baltimore at 1:30 and meet up with my mom, who arrives about 30 minutes before I do, and then we head into DC. We're staying at some shi-shi place near the White House (maybe I can stroll over and kick the current occupant of the WH in the shins) and the Mall. We'll do touristy stuff Wednesday afternoon and evening. I plan to use my morning run on Thursday to tour the Mall and see all the big monuments.

Thursday afternoon our long-time family friend Jean is meeting us at the National Gallery to see an Edward Hopper exhibit. I don't care so much about seeing the exhibit; I just used it an excuse to go on the trip. After the National Gallery we'll head to Shepherds Town, W VA, where Jean lives, to spend two days at her house doing absolutely nothing.

In the meantime, there's just so much to do! I have laundry to fold and get put away so the kids and husband don't have to go naked by day 5, groceries to buy, and work to do. I have two projects going on at Holt, both with deadlines this week. Eek. I'm hoping B's tablet PC is back from the shop by the time I leave so that I can take the laptop. If I can't take it, I'll be so far behind by the time I get home.

Eek. I need to stop writing and get working!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Running news

I haven't written about running lately because, frankly, there's nothing much to report. Campbell's taken taken to waking up at o'dark-hundred every morning, and I can never tell whether he's going to go back to sleep for 15 minutes or two hours. If I do run these days, it's with Campbell in the jogger, and while I love having him along for the ride, pushing the jogger stinks.

Wednesday morning I ran a quick 1 1/2 mile out-and-back in the neighborhood and then did circuit training - lunges, squats, step-ups, crunches, etc on the front lawn, followed by a lap around the block. After each lap I'd stand outside Campbell's window and listen for screaming. He woke up while I was on my second lap, so I finished up and headed inside.

I don't feel comfortable leaving behind a possibly screaming baby because you could drive a freight train through our bedroom and B would sleep through it. I'm not exagerating. When I do leave the baby behind, I put the monitor next to B's ear and turn the volume up to 11. This morning, according to the girls, they had to go get B to tell him Campbell was up. This doesn't help my nerves about my upcoming trip. But that's another post for another time.

Anyway, I headed down to the trail this morning for the first time in what seems like months. I got there at 6:20 and didn't expect to see any running friends, which was just fine with me; I wanted to run my own thing. But as I was headed across the MoPac bridge, I saw Cristina, who convinced me to turn around and at least say hi to the rest of the group. Long story short, they convinced me to start out with them.

I ran the first two miles with Anne, Cristina, and Shannon, and I felt surprisingly strong, especially given that I was chatting with Cristina the whole way. The girls were headed off onto surface roads for what ended up being another five miles, so I stuck to the trail, finishing the four-mile loop.

It was definitely the right choice: I finished feeling good and like I had accomplished something. It was a better run than many of the ones I had this summer when I was supposedly in better shape than I am now. Perhaps all the miles with Campbell in the jogger are paying off.

In the end, it was the perfect Saturday morning run for me. I had the chance to visit with friends and the chance to run by myself. The only problem is that I'm already sore. I hate to think what I'm going to feel like tomorrow.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Things I'd forgotten

Here's a list of things I'd forgotten about 1-year-olds/new toddlers.

They look like a cross between Charlie Chaplin and a duck when they walk, especially if they're just wearing a diaper.

They get good at going up stairs very quickly, but it takes them MUCH longer to figure out how to get back down safely. In the meantime, I develop lightening-fast reflexes every time Campbell gets near the stairs.

They develop this fascination with putting things in other things. We've learned that whenever we can't find our keys/cell phone/tv remote/hairbrush/etc we need to look in all of the drawers, garbage cans, and diaper pails within Campbell's reach. Ella and Lily have learned to check the kitchen trash for missing toys. Campbell's thrown away quite a lot of their stuff. Each time they get upset I remind them that if they had picked up the toy to begin with, Campbell wouldn't have been able to throw it away.

They demonstrate the law of physics that says, "A body in motion will stay in motion . . ." Campbell will walk and walk and walk in a straight line until he runs into something or I head him off and turn him around. Then he walk in a straight line whichever direction I've just faced him. He's like a little wind-up toy waddling along.

They don't sit still, not ever. Campbell will not sit in my lap at all, even when he wants comforting. If he falls down or donks his head or just needs reassurance, he will waddle over and hold up his arms for me to hold him. He'll put his head on my shoulder for about 2 seconds and then wriggle back off my lap. He won't even sit in my lap to drink a bottle of milk. And now that he's down to just nursing once a day, he doesn't even want to hold still for that. I think tonight's his last night of nursing before bed.

They are just so fun. I had been so sad about Campbell's turning one that I forgot how fun babies are at this stage. He loves doing things to make me laugh and gives big belly laughs when I do something silly, like putting my shoe on my head. He's a tremendous flirt with just about everyone, making people work to get him to smile. Campbell has started giving us kisses, which are more like a big lick, but we know what he means. And his brief snuggles are just so sweet.

When Ella was about six months old, I was having a really tough time as a new mother. Part of my problem was a profound sadness at how short a time babies are babies. My Aunt Jane was in town for a visit with my cousins, and she said something to me that helped more than I can ever describe. She said that kids just keep getting better, that each stage is fun. That one comment helped me refocus as a mother, and it has turned out to be completely true. Babyhood is sweet and snuggly, but toddlerhood is a blast too. I need to remember to enjoy the stage I'm in instead of missing the stage that's past. And that goes for all three of my kids, not just Campbell.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Playing tourist in our own town

Yesterday I took the kids on a long-promised trip to the new Town Lake Park, down by Auditorium Shores. I had an almost-blinding migraine, but I decided to grit my teeth and go, because I knew if we didn't, I'd spend the afternoon listening to crying and whining about how I had "PROMISED" to take them. I'm glad we went. The girls ran and laughed and splashed for an hour. Campbell staggered around after them, occassionaly venturing off on his own towards the big lawn. I'd have to head him off at the pass and herd him back to the proper area. As we left, Ella asked if she could wear her bathing suit the next time, and I said yes, but I honestly think that part of what made it so fun for them was that they were in their clothes getting soaked.

After we played in the fountains, I tried to get a picture of all three kids looking happy. It didn't go well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Conversation overheard

Scene: The girls during bath time.

Ella: Lily, wanna hear a joke? What did the strawberry do when it saw the apple turn over?
Lily: What?
Ella: It rolled!
Lily: Puzzled silence
Ella: I know. I don't get it either.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Huck Finn would be proud

After last week's meltdown over cleaning their room, the girls have been doing a great job of straightening up each afternoon. I decided to capitalize on their current level of cooperation by having them join me in Saturday morning chores. So this Saturday, after a decent amount of cartoon time (we're still doing really well with our tv-free school days, by the way), I told the girls it was time to clean their room. They marched off cheerfully and cleaned to the song stylings of Joe McDermott, coming out a half hour later to announce they were finished.

After my inspection, I told them they were going on a treasure hunt, which got their attention. The treasures were all of their books scattered throughout the house, and I promised a prize to whoever found the most books. Of course Ella won, but I told Lily there was a prize for second place. Ella's prize was getting to dust my room. The look on her face was classic: on the one hand, she knew she'd been had, but on the other, she loves getting to use the feather duster. She she twirled off to my room, duster in hand. I told Lily her prize was getting to dust the living room. She burst into tears and said, "But I want to vacuum the kitchen!" So I pretended to think about it for a few minutes before letting her vacuum to her heart's content.

Then she asked to mop, and again, after "thinking" about it, I agreed to let her mop the kitchen if she did a good job vacuuming. Ella arrived to protest that it wasn't fair that Lily got to mop but she didn't. So I told her she could mop the living room and their bathroom. But then Lily wanted to mop more, so I told her she could mop the hall and one of the bedrooms. Before I knew it, they had vacuumed and mopped the whole front of the house.

The floors weren't spotless when they were done, but they were pretty clean. Plus the girls had fun, and I got to fold laundry instead of vacuuming and mopping. It was a good deal all around. So we celebrated by going to "Chick-ill-a" for lunch.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Three-hour Tour

Last night was the annual Gardner Group client appreciation party, and for a change it went really well.

Two years ago we had the still-talked-about Cruise from Hell on Lake Travis. The party planner rented a party boat that docked at Lakeway Marina, about a 45-minute drive for most people. To get to the boat, you had to climb down narrow, steep stairs and wend your way along boat docks. I did this with two kids in tow who were in constant danger of falling in. Once we got to the boat, things didn't improve. It was mid-August at 5:00 pm, and it was HOT. The boat could hold 100 people, and we had 110, so the captain refused to leave the dock until 10 people got off. So we sat at the marina, baking in the sun, with the captain walking around with his stupid little clicky counter muttering about how there were too many people. Finally, 10 people left and we set sail. The cruise itself was fine - we had good food and good wine. Rob, the office manager, brought tons of candy for all the kids, so they were happy. But things took a dire turn when one guest, a 17-year-old touched a piece of fish and then touched her mouth. She is deathly allergic to fish, and had an immediate reaction from just that little bit of contact. We had to turn the boat around and call for an ambulance to meet us at the dock. Once we got to the dock, the captain started screaming at everyone to get off so the paramedics could do their work. He started yelling at me until I informed him I was the wife of the guy writing the check.

I thought last year's party was great, even though it wasn't well attended. The low turnout was a result of poor scheduling, nothing more. The planner rented out this place called the Party Barn, and we had the whole spread to ourselves, including a great pool. The kids swam the whole time we were there, except for when we fished them out to eat. There was barbecue and horseshoes and ice cream and a moon bounce and little train. I had a blast, as did everyone who attended. Unfortunately, only about 50 people were there, instead of the 150 who were invited.

This year, however, the party was well planned, well attended and a huge success. It was on a river boat on Lake Austin. The weather was perfect, the food was good, the scenery was beautiful. Everyone seemed to have a really great time.

The best part for me, though, was seeing how much the Gardner Group has grown in the past ten years. When B and I got married, he and his dad were starting from scratch, doing cold calls and working the up-desk on weekends hoping for new clients. Now they have their own office and about 20 agents working for them. They were number one in Austin on one of the Austin Business Journal lists for real estate last year, when they only had about eight agents working for them. It's fun being in their office during the work day; the phones are ringing, agents are coming and going, clients are there. It's a thriving business, and I'm very proud of B and his dad for how far they've come in a relatively short time.

The only problem is that I have a wicked case of vertigo due to a stuffed up head and last night's boat ride. I still feel like I'm on the boat, and sitting here typing is making me sea sick.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I can't write funny

After spending way too much time this past week reading blogs, I've come to a bitter realization - I can't write funny. I just can't.

I'm not saying I'm not funny, because I happen to think I am - or at the very least I'm odd. I can tell a funny story without a problem. I say funny things. My friends laugh at my stories, and I really do think they're laughing at the stories, not at me. I can tell a joke and not step over the punchline.

But I can't write funny.

I can tell a funny story about something the kids have done or said and then sit down to write it out, and it falls flat - every time.

There was a "Studio 60" show where Matt Perry's character was trying to teach Sarah Paulson's character to tell a joke, and as funny an actress as she was, she couldn't deliver the joke. That's me, but with writing.

This realization is rather disheartening, because I'm a good writer. I get paid to write. I write very well about lots of different things. And there are so many bloggers out there who aren't very good writers, but they CAN write funny. It's just not fair.

So what do I do? Do I try to become a funny writer? Do I accept my non-funnyness and focus on writing well? Do I stop reading the laugh-out-loud funny blogs? Do I throw up my hands and give up blogging in despair? I just don't know.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to take the rest of the weekend off from reading and writing blogs and give my brain a rest. Besides, I have a sock to finish knitting, and blogging takes away from my limited knitting time.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The state of our schools

Even though I left last night's PTA meeting feeling pretty good about the future of our little school, there were three bits of business that troubled me. Actually, they made me pretty angry.

First, our school's commercial-grade dishwasher has been "condemned" by the district. Apparently it was original to the school when it was built in 1950-something and has broken to the point where it cannot be repaired. So does the district install a new dishwasher? No. There is apparently some obscure ratio of students/teachers/staff that decides whether a school NEEDS a dishwasher, and our school doesn't have the right ratio. Instead, the kids eat off Styrofoam trays that release all sorts of fun chemicals and MELT when hot food is put on them. Each day the school uses enough trays to fill a dumpster and then pays $100 per day to get the dumpster emptied. Because all that is apparently better than buying a new dishwasher. So the PTA and the soon-to-be-formed environmental club are going to research the cost of a new dishwasher and the cost of hiring someone to wash the dishes and see if the PTA can donate the money to the school.

Second, the school's photocopier can't keep up with the demand. The school doesn't have the money for a second one, so the PTA is looking into leasing one for the school, at a cost of $6,000 for two years. This started a bit of a commotion at the meeting, because some man kept yammering about how he works with copiers all the time and knows how we can get one cheaper. Nevermind that the PTA has to go through the district's leasing office to get the copier. The guy wouldn't let it go until the treasurer, the divine Lisa R, asked him he'd like to make a motion to research copier leases. He said no. As is typical with those kinds of folks, when it was time to put up or shut up, he shut up. Too bad he had to annoy everyone and slow down the meeting first.

Third, the PTA donated $50 to each classroom for school supplies. It's great that the PTA did this, it really is. But I'm upset because I know that $50 doesn't even begin to cover what the teachers use in the classroom and because I know that the teachers will each still spend hundreds out of pocket to buy stuff.

All of these things made me angry because they proved yet again how low a priority our local, state and federal governments put on education. It is beyond ridiculous that the school district hasn't replaced the dishwasher in the school. Raising funds for a dishwasher should not have to fall to the PTA. It is insane that the teachers all have to line up to use a copier that overheats and shuts off at about noon every day. Their alternative is to go to a copy shop and pay for copies out of pocket. And finally, teachers who barely get paid subsistence wages should not have to be shelling out their hard-earned money for classroom supplies. That is beyond wrong.

Our country is wasting flying spaghetti monster knows how much money in so many ways - the quagmire in Iraq springs to mind as one example - but our schools go lacking for basics.

Last night's meeting was enough to get me pretty riled up. I've now volunteered to handle the e-mail newsletter, monthly print newsletter, and PTA Web site and coordinate the spring book fair. I realized that instead of shaking my fist and railing about our president and the wrongs he's committed, I can instead actually do something to make one part of my world a better place - and I'm picking our school.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Warm, with a hint of cool

That's what the weather felt like to me tonight as I walked to and from our elementary school for a PTA meeting. Warm with a hint of cool is entirely different than cool with a hint of hot, which is what happens in the spring. Right now, the warm with a hint of cool holds the promise of fall and cool evenings and even cooler mornings. It holds the hope that I might just survive my 13th summer here in Austin. I love the fall in Austin; it's my reward for making it through the intolerable summers.

The air smelled so good out as I walked home. I don't know if lots of people have recently mowed their lawns, of if some particular tree is in bloom (which could be the cause of my miserable allergies today) or what, but it just smelled so good. I finished the walk home in such a peaceful mood - at least until I walked in and saw that the dinner dishes were still on the counter. Sigh. In B's defense, he was working pretty much the whole time I was at the meeting.

The PTA meeting also helped my mood. Our nice little school is definitely in transition. The school has a pretty diverse population, with a large percentage of Hispanic and non-native English speakers. Last year the PTA sort of fell apart, for a lot of reasons, but this year's committee is really on the ball and really committed to working with the school and changing a lot of things for the better. One of the goals of the PTA is to get the minority families more involved, and I saw the beginings of it tonight. There was a pot-luck dinner at the school before the meeting, and there were families of all shapes and sizes and colors and ethnicities in attendence. It made me proud of our little school.

The meeting also had the highest member attendance it's had in years, with lots of parents who are new to the school. It's great to see so many new folks coming in to work on making the school a better place. Seeing everyone there reinforced my decision to have the kids attend the neighborhood school. Great things are ahead for Brentwood.

So I'm feeling oddly optomistic tonight, which is rare for me. Fall is coming, and things are looking up.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I finished my first sock! It's a bit lumpy in places, and it's a little too small. The kitchner stitch at the toe isn't perfect, but I can see how it's supposed to look. I wore the sock last night after I finished it to keep me motivated as I cast on its twin - fraternal, not identical.

Mom called and left a message congratulating me on the sock. She informed me that I learned four new knitting skills in just one sock:

ssk - this is where you slip stitches to the right needle to knit them together. It's like a backwards combining stitch.

short row - this is what you do on the heel. Apparently it will come in handy if I ever knit other things like sweaters.

kitchner stitch - this is a general, all purpose way of joining two pieces of knitting.

casting on stitches from another piece - I can't even begin to describe what this is, but it's not the casting on you do when you start a piece.

B is so thrilled that I'm finally learning to knit socks. He's been begging for hand-knit socks for ages. He even said he'd go to the yarn shop with me to pick out the wool. Now I just need a good pattern for men's socks.

More on the migraines

Some answers to questions I've gotten:

Why wouldn't you want to take a medicine that causes you to gain weight? It seems like a small price to pay.
I did try taking the medicine, and I gained 8 pounds in five days. Not good. Plus, I have a history of, ummm, anorexia. When I get stressed, or depressed, or otherwise feel like my life is out of control, I stop eating. Having rampant migraines AND gaining weight triggered some bad behaviors on my part. So after two months, I stopped taking the medication, lost the weight almost immediately without starving myself, and stopped beating myself up about not being able to fit into my clothes.

What are your triggers?
I've been able to pin down some things that pretty much guarantee a migraine: red wine, strawberries, lack of sleep, allergies, ozone days, and stress. There are other things that might trigger a migraine if the conditions are right, or wrong, depending on how you look at it: running, not running, heat, humidity, margaritas, and chocolate.

Are there different levels of pain?
Yes. I have some migraines that are mostly the side symptoms - like the visual distortions and sensitivities - with pain that's a 3 or 4 on a scale of 10. Those are the migraines that tend to go on for a week or so. Then there are the migraines that go all the way up to 11. Those are the ones that put me in bed in a cold, dark room in a haze of hydrocodone. As bad as the ones that go to 11 are, it's the low-level migraines that last for several days that take the most out of me. I get so worn down from feeling just well enough to function, but not well enough to thrive. Before I had kids, I'd go to bed when I had one of these and sleep it off. I don't have that luxury anymore. I have to save my retreats to bed for the really, really bad ones.

I've had bad headaches before, so I know how you feel.
Umm, no offense here, but if you've never had a migraine, you don't know how one feels. Imagine your worst ice-cream headache. Now multiply it by ten, have it last 36 hours instead of 30 seconds, and just for fun, throw in nausea, sensitivity to light, smells, and sound. Then maybe, just maybe, you'll feel like you have a migraine. My husband, who is really very understanding about my migraines, had a sinus infection last year that was so bad he spent two days in bed. He said later that the sinus pain gave him an inkling of what migraines were like and apologized for any of the times he wasn't as sympathetic as he could have been. And even then, he didn't claim that his sinus pain was close to a migraine in intensity.

Do you have one again today?
Yes. For the record, that's three days in a row. This one's an 8 or so.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Migraine, Migraine go away

I'm currently in the throes of my second migraine in two days. Right now I'm getting about two a week. For the past few weeks I've maxed out on the number of Imitrex pills I'm allowed to take in a certain number of hours. Actually, now that I think about it, I should probably say that I've had the same migraine for two days, with a few hours' respite in there somewhere.

Usually, my migraines come on in the afternoons, which is what happened yesterday. We had a house full of friends - including lots of kids - for an impromptu party for Campbell's birthday. We had a big one a week ago while my folks were here, but the girls insisted that we have another party ON Campbell's birthday, so we did. Anyway, the migraine hit me like a mac truck, no warning signs, no visual distortions. I took an Imitrex and felt marginally better in the evening, but I was in bed and asleep by 9:30 or so.

When I woke up I felt like it would be a bad day, but I went for a run anyway, hoping that doing so would help. Sometimes exercise gets rid of minor migraines. It seemed to work this morning, but as the day wore on, and the rains rolled through, the migraine returned.

I've had migraines since I was a child. I vividly remember having them when we lived in Massachusetts. I remember lying curled up on the family room sofa feeling like my head was going to explode. I remember having lots of them after we moved to Florida, having to go to the nurse's office because I was in so much pain. And then there were the headaches in high school - maybe that's why I did so poorly in calculus. Hmmm.

I've had people ask if I'm upset that my parents never did anything about my headaches when I was little, but I'm not at all. I don't think migraines were well known then, and who would think a little kid would have them. Mom would give me aspirin and send me off to my room to rest, which is about all anyone could have done. Sometimes she gave me some flat Coke to drink, and since caffeine can sometimes help, that was actually a good thing for her to do.

In college I read an article on migraines and realized that the description in the article exactly matched what I had - intense pain behind one eye; sensitivity to light, sound, and smell; and nausea. I went to the doctor at the student health clinic and told him about my symptoms. His response? "That's not what a migraine feels like." He told me I had a sinus infection and sent me on my way with antibiotics. So for the next 8 years, every time I had a migraine that lasted three days, I'd assume I had a sinus infection and either take decongestants or go to the doctor for antibiotics.

Finally, when I was 26, after two rounds of antibiotics and no relief of the pain, my doctor ordered a sinus x-ray, which revealed clean sinuses. I should note that it was summer, and the migraines are always worse in the heat and humidity. I can go day after day with blinding headaches. The doctor, after getting the x-rays back said, "I think these might be migraines. I'm sending you to a specialist." I broke down in tears in his office out of sheer relief.

It took some tinkering with medications - there was the stuff that made me pass out every time I stood up and the stuff that made me throw up endlessly - before we settled on Imitrex. This neurologist also sent me for biofeedback sessions to help me learn to control the pain. I still do some of the breathing exercises when the pain is intense. The exercises keep me from getting so tensed up, and I can usually relax enough to fall asleep.

The doctor also gave me a prescription for pain pills to take when the Imitrex didn't work. Unfortunately, there are times when not even the hydrocodone works, and all I can do is retreat to a cold, dark room with an ice pack on my head. My sister has gone to the ER a few times when her migraines have gotten to be too much and the pain pills don't work. I can think of a few headaches where I probably should have done the same thing.

The migraines get worse when I'm pregnant because I can't take the Imitrex. I've tried chiropracty and accupuncture as ways of relieving the misery, but they never offered real results. Unfortunately, when I'm pregnant and I get a migraine, I throw up, a lot. With Lily I suspected I was pregnant before I took the test because I had had a migraine and had thrown up.

My friends probably get tired of hearing that I have headaches, but in all honesty, there are many, many times when I don't admit to anyone, not even B, that I have one. There are days when I just don't have the luxury of going to bed. So I take the Imitrex, grit my teeth and hope for the best. I keep myself going with the memory of what life was life before I knew what the headaches were. I soldiered on then without the help of any medications because I had no choice.

My neurologists have tried some preventive medications, including depacote, which has the potential for horrible birth defects if taken when pregnant, but I've gone off all of them voluntarily. Everything I've tried has made life worse, not better. One medication gave me regular headaches. And while I can function if necessary with a migraine, a regular headache absolutely knocks me out - I don't know how to cope. Another medication made me gain weight. Still another made me overheat when running, to the point that I nearly collapsed on a run. So now I just say no when the doctor suggest another possible prevention. Sometimes the cure is really worse than the disease.

My greatest worry is that my kids will get migraines. Last summer Ella complained of migraines every day after school, and I panicked. It turns out she was just dehydrated - I'd pump her full of water in the car on the way home, and she'd bounce back without a problem. But I still worry. I wouldn't wish these on my worst enemy.

And now I'm off to bed with an ice pack on my head.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Baby Boy

Today is Campbell's first birthday, and I'm feeling a little sad. I know he's my last baby, and I feel like I have to hug and snuggle every ounce of babyness I can out of him now because he's getting so big, so fast. Last week he decided he was going to walk, and now he walks everywhere. It looks so ridiculous to see someone so short staggering around the house, but there he goes, off on another lap around the living room.

But to temper the sadness, there is the absolute joy that Campbell has brought to our family. When B and I were discussing whether to have a third child, the only thing I could say to counter all of B's very logical, rational arguments against another baby was "Someone is missing from our family." And Campbell is exactly who was missing.

He is such a sunny littly guy, tagging along behind his big sisters. He loves sitting at the kitchen table with them for afternoon snack. He'll join in the conversation, jabbering at them like he is telling them all about his day. And when the girls start laughing about something, Campbell will look at them for a moment and then start laughing too. He has no idea what's so funny, but if they're laughing, it must be funny.

When Campbell gets his hands on some new toy, or something he's not supposed to have, he'll sit on the floor and spin in circles, like he's on a sit'n'spin, jabbering. It's hysterical to see. He also loves to throw his toys as he noodles around the house, but he usually throws them behind him, and then looks extremely puzzled at their disappearance.

His greatest heartbreak is when Ella and Lily lock him out of their bedroom. If he manages to get in there with him, Ella will pick him up and plop him in the hallway and close the door. Campbell will crawl over to their door and bang on it while yelling. He got even with them last week by shredding some artwork Ella had hung on the outside of her bedroom door.

Campbell keeps getting more fun every day. I really feel like I've been able to enjoy his babyhood more than I did the girls'. With Ella I was so panicked all the time about balancing work and her, and I didn't have any clue what I was doing with her. I was such a nervous wreck that I missed the fun of her baby days. When Lily was a baby I was so busy chasing Ella, who was 2 and a handful, that Lily spent most of her time in the bouncy seat watching all the commotion. But with Campbell, I've been much more relaxed and have worried so much less about everything. And with the girls away every morning, I've had the time to just sit on the floor and play with him. Those mornings have been so special.

So now I'm weaning him, slowly. It's harder this time than it was with the girls, just because I know it's my last time. Also, he's never taken to bottles, so it's harder to get him to accept cups of milk before nap and bed, but I'm working on it. I'm going out of town the first week of October, and that will be Campbell's cut-off date. In the meantime, I'm savoring those last few early morning and evening snuggles with him.

Happy Birthday baby boy! We love you so much.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sock progress

After a week-long lull in my knitting, I made great progress on my sock this weekend. Friday night I turned the heel, with my mom coaching me along via speakerphone. B teased us that we should try brain surgery together. I had been told that when you turn your first heel you feel like a genius, and it's true. I felt so very smart when I looked at my needles and saw an actual heel dangling from them.

I thought I was pretty close to finished and was about to start the decrease process, but at mom's suggestion I tried the sock on. It's a good thing I did - I have a long way to go, as you can see.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Parent Trap

Ella has her friend M spending the night tonight. The girls have been buddies since they were about 18 months old, and spending the night is their new favorite thing. M arrived with her American Girl Doll Kirsten in tow, along with Kirsten's luggage. Kirsten and Ella's doll, Hermione, have been sitting next to each other on the sofa all evening, having a good chat, I suppose. Right now the dolls are being changed into their nightgowns and sleeping bonnets. Later they'll be tucked into Hermione's crib for their own little slumber party.

The main activity of the evening has been watching The Parent Trap, the original version with Hayley Mills AND Hayley Mills, and the girls have been mesmerized by it. I love that they think this is a cool movie, despite its lack of animation, special effects (unless you count HM sharing scenes with herself), and princesses. They've been cackling at the pranks pulled, and getting some bad ideas, I'm afraid, and guessing what's going to happen next. It's so nice to see that they are still 6 going on 7 instead of 6 going on 13 - at least for tonight.

Lily has been hanging out with the big girls. She considers this just as much her sleepover as Ella's. She isn't quite old enough to understand that she's the pesky little sister in this situation. Fortunately, Ella and M are pretty tolerant of her presence, and her gymnastics on the blow-up mattress in the living room. Lily couldn't still tonight if her life depended on it. B and I have tried to lure her out of the room with promises of one-on-one time with us, but she'd far rather watch a movie she doesn't quiet understand with the big girls.

We've been so fortunate with the girls' friends so far. They are all really neat kids with great parents. I know at some point it will change, and they'll bring home friends we aren't fond of, so we're enjoying the good times while they last.

Friday, September 14, 2007

O happy day!

I have an iPod again! My beloved iPod, which was a second-generation one, purchased two years ago when it was the newest model, has met a slow and painful death. I have a long, troubled history with my iPod, and the one that just died was my third. I had to send the first two back to be replaced, one within two months of my receiving it. This one lasted just over a year before biting the dust. I need to contact customer service about repairing it, but I just haven't gotten around to doing so yet.

For the past few months the iPod would work sporadically. Some days it would function just fine; on others it would lock up after 5 minutes. I could usually jump start it by doing a hard shut down or connecting it to the computer and firing up iTunes. But it eventually got to the point where not even a hard shut down would start it, and the iTunes stopped recognizing it. I think the latest iTunes software is just too advanced for my ancient model iPod.

So while we were at S. Padre, I checked on eBay for iPods. I had heard that lots of people were selling their fifth generation devices because they'd gotten iPhones. It turns out I'd heard correctly - I had more than 200 to bid on. After several tries, I won a fifth generation black iPod with 30GB for $150. Yay.

But then the waiting begain. It took contacting the guy I bought it from 2 times for him to actually ship it. And then he ended up sending it to the wrong address and it was returned to him. Last week I sent him my correct address, and the iPod finally arrived today.

Fortunately Lily and Campbell were in rest time and Ella was at school so I could play with it without being bothered. I've restored the drive and put all my music/books/videos on it and renamed it. I haven't had a chance to watch a video or show on it yet, but I'm looking forward to testing it out.

In the meantime, I will be catching up on all the podcasts that have been collecting while I've been iPod-less. It's been a very long three weeks not having one. I wonder how we ever got along before iPods were invented?

Movie silliness

Last night B was flipping through the channels when I spotted a scene that looked familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. I made him go back, and when I realized what the movie was, I started laughing. It was Honky Tonk Freeway, quite possibly one of the worst movies ever made. But it also has the distinction of being partially filmed in Sarasota, FL, where I grew up. My mom also worked on the movie, for one night. She was a stand-in for some blonde actress; she thinks it was Beverly D'Angelo. The movie folks painted part of a small town on the outskirts of Sarasota pink and blew up an overpass on the freeway. Fun stuff!

The movie revolves around Ticlaw, a small town that's been bypassed by the freeway. The mayor comes up with plans to lure tourists - painting the town pink, giving away gas, building a sarari park, teaching an elephant to water ski. Finally, he decides to blow up the overpass and route everyone into town. Throughout this we meet various travelers who end up in Ticlaw together. The thing that amazed me, aside from the sheer awfullness, was the cast. It had an amazing cast - Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy (what they did to them at the end was just plain WRONG), Howard Hessman, Terri Garr, William Devane, Beverly D'Angelo, and Daniel Stern, to name a few. It was a virtual who's who of early '80s stars! And it was still terrible.

I called dad and offered to pay him $100 if he could guess the movie we were watching. Of course, he couldn't.

After Honky Tony Freeway, we watched part of Drop Dead Gorgeous, one of my absolute all-time favorite movies - ever. I laugh so hard it hurts through sections of it. Ellen Barkin and Allison Janney have to be the best on-screen pairing ever. They look like they had an absolute blast filming it - and like they were drunk the whole time. The list of ridiculous things goes on and on - the mushroom clouds every time someone blows up, the COPs film crew showing up, the vomiting at the state competition, Allison Janney at the state competition, the deaf baby. It all makes me giggle.

B had never seen Drop Dead Gorgeous before, and I'm not sure he thinks it's as funny as I do, but he was willing to sit through it. I may buy the DVD, just in the hopes of its having a bonus section with out takes. Those would be worth the price of admission alone.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I knew it

Yesterday morning Lily was just a wreck. She was such a mess that I checked her temperature twice, thinking she was coming down with something. But Lily wans't running a fever.

She cried the whole way to preschool because she wanted me to button her sweater for her. My explanation of the laws of safety and physics and why I couldn't button her sweater AND drive the car had no effect on her. When we got to school she stopped crying, but only because one of her friends had brought a "Baby Cinderella" doll for show and tell. Even though she wasn't crying, she was still pretty listless. I expected to get a call during the morning to come get her because she had started running a fever or something.

For the record, I strictly abide by the no fever for 24 hours rule at both our schools. I get so mad when parents bring kids to school and say, "He was running a fever at bedtime, but he was fine this morning so I brought him in." It's 24 hours, people, not 12! All you've done is brought your child in to infect my child.

Anyway, when I picked her up after lunch she was just fine, singing and twirling and telling me all about her day. She's supposed to start "ballelet" classes again today, so we went on a field trip and bought new tights and a new leotard. My plan was to buy new slippers this morning on our way to class.

But then at bedtime Lily fell apart again - crying because she was coughing and sniffling. I gave her some advil and rubbed her forehead for a while as she nodded off. She woke up a few times in the night, whimpering, but still no fever.

This morning it's a different story. She woke up with a fever of 100.6, which I know will go up during the day. So she's flat on the sofa, watching Little Bear, and being brave about staying home from her first day of ballet.

I knew yesterday morning that illness was on the horizon; my timing was just off a bit

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I don't like my children

There, I've said it. I don't like my children, not one little bit. Not today.

Don't get me wrong - I love them more than I can bear and would do anything for them, but today I just can't stand them. They're ganging up on me, and I'm ready to go crazy. And of course, B's not here tonight to help, which makes things worse.

Campbell can't or won't get into a nap routine. It seems like he's ready to switch to one nap, but instead of taking one long one, he takes a 45-minute nap in the morning and then screams when I put him down in the afternoon. Today he screamed for half an hour, despite my going in and patting him every five minutes. I gave up when Ella came home from school and we were invited next door for snack. Campbell was so tired during dinner that I thought he was going to fall asleep in his chair.

The girls have embarked on a whole new level of disrespect. What baffles me about their behavior is that we don't let them get away with back talk and sticking out of tongues and arguing, yet they persist in doing it.

I've gotten very tired of telling them to do something and not getting any acknowledgement of my presence in the room, so B and I are trying to teach them to say yes ma'am and no ma'am to me. It's not going well. I have to remind Ella she's supposed to say it, and when she does Lily just parrots her, giggling.

When I'm giving them instructions, or talking to them about anything serious, I tell the girls to look at me. Their new trick is to turn their faces towards me but to roll their eyes away. I think they think they're following the spirit of the law - they're looking at me, but not really. Or they don't realize that I can clearly see what they're up to. So I stop talking and stare at them until they really look at me. Some conversations take a very long time.

As a result I've turned into Mean, Evil Mom today. The girls' room was such a mess that I didn't even open the shades in there this morning because I didn't want to run the risk of having anyone see in there from the outside. So after playtime at the neighbors' I sent the girls in to clean with the warning that everything left on the floor would be thrown away tomorrow while they were at school. There were many arguments and tears, but I held firm, and their room is pretty clean now. They did a much better job than usual. But I am worn out from being so mean.

Then, after shower, I gave them strict instructions to get on clean night shirts and panties and to brush their teeth. Instead, I had to interrupt a loud game of nudie tag in my bedroom. I started yelling, hoping that the increased noise level would have an affect. Ella hid her face behind her sister's head so she could smirk at me without being seen. Too bad I'm not as stupid as she thinks, because I knew what she was up to.

I don't get it, I really don't. The girls know that B and I mean it when we say there are consequences for behaviors. They know that ugly faces and eye rolls are not tolerated, yet they still do all the things they know they're not supposed to. Ella tested pretty far off the charts for gifted and talented, but she's not acting like it at home. Lily is just a little copy cat, following Ella's lead in behavior, when she's not mauling her brother or hitting her sister on her own.

Because of their behavior, I have just the worst attitude. I'm a little black raincloud looming around the house. It's affecting everything in my life. I got an annoying e-mail from one of the women I'm working on a project with (no Julie and Amy, it's not you), and my immediate reaction was to fire off an angry e-mail asking her why she was being so stupid. But I wisely walked away, gave Campbell a bath and put him to bed before replying in a humorous, self-deprecating way. And it's a good thing I did, because I'm the one who caused the mix-up, and the co-worker's e-mail, instead of being annoying, was a real attempt to solve a problem I'd created. Sigh.

I had to grit my teeth and read bedtime stories to two children who don't deserve them, even though they finally did what I'd asked and I didn't have to drop the ultimate hammer on them. Oddly enough, both girls have picked stories about naughty children. Lily has selected the Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room, and Ella has picked Missy Piggle Wiggle, which is all about messy, rude children. I asked Lily why she picked the book she did and she said it was because they had had a messy room, too. Then I talked to them both about how disappointed I was in their behavior and asked if they had little girls who had behaved as badly as they had, would they want to read them stories. Both said they wouldn't. I asked if I should read to them, and they both said yes please. Maybe I taught them something tonight. Maybe tomorrow's behavior will be better. Maybe this was the dark before the dawn of perfect children.

Maybe. But I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Mom's tall tales

My mom has a genius for telling stories about horrible accidents that cause the death of a friend of a friend. I thought my mom was the only one who told these stories, but the more I talk to friends about their mothers, the more I realize it seems to be a mom trait.

One friend told me how her mother, or was it her mother-in-law, told her to never knit in the car because someone she knew was knitting while riding in the car and died when they were in a crash and the knitting needle stabbed her. She also told my friend never to carry a punch bowl in her lap because she heard about this bride who was riding in the car on the way to her wedding/reception holding a punch bowl. Of course, she was in a crash and died, on her wedding day, because a shard of glass from the punch bowl pierced her heart.

Heidi's mom tells tales, too. But Heidi named my mom the winner after two recent stories. A few weeks ago Ella and I were riding on the inner tube up at the lake when B whipped us across the wake. Ella and I both went flying. When I told mom, she got pretty upset at B for driving the boat recklessly. A few days later, she called to tell me about a friend of a friend who was at the beach and leaned over to pick up a shell. While he was bent over, he got hit by a rogue wave that knocked him over and broke his neck. He died. It is tragic, really. I feel awful for his family and friends, I really do. But I had to laugh at mom for telling the story as an illustration of why B shouldn't have sent me and Ella flying off the tube.

Today I took mom and dad to Ella's school so we could join her for lunch. As we were leaving, mom commented on the signs about how the school is doing things for the environment. Then she told me about a friend of a friend who went out to turn her compost heap, which had some rare spores in it that got released and she inhaled them. And she died. I groaned. Dad asked if she had been returned to the compost heap to join the decomposition cycle.

There have been other stories - kids who climbed into dishwashers and poked their eyes out on the things that stick up (she has told me that story with each kid), kids who swallow refrigerator magnets and get horribly sick, kids who poke their eyes out with knitting needles and get horrible infections and have to wear eye patches for the rest of their lives. Or was that last one just her fear of what will happen to Campbell if Lily leaves her knitting needles out? I can't remember.

I'm putting out a call for stories - has your mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, etc. told you a cautionary tale that ended with someone's death? I'd love to hear one that beats mom's two stories.

Sorry mom, I just can't help myself on this one.

Tim, Tim, Tim

I've become a Bravo TV junkie. They have so many addictive reality-based shows. My favorites this summer were Flipping Out (Jeff's not OCD, he's just bossy and annoying), Welcome to the Parker (although this one went downhill after the ping-pong tournament), and Top Chef (my love of this show is only enhanced by Tony Bourdain's regular appearances). Because I've been watching lots of Bravo, I've seen lots of ads for Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, which premiered last week.

I love Tim Gunn. He's my favorite part of Project Runway (Laura was robbed!), so I was thrilled to hear that he was getting his own show.

I watched the first show, and it just didn't live up to my expectations. It was slow, dry, and not very inspiring. I did like the list of wardrobe essentials every woman should have, and I will use it when I start rebuilding my closet this fall. When I got pregnant with Campbell, I cleaned out my closet ruthlessly, and now that I'm almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight and size, I don't have much left to wear other than shorts and polo shirts. Not that I have lots of places to go that require more than shorts or polo shirts, but it would be nice to have options.

Anyway, I found the show odd. It's not like What Not to Wear, where they take clothing train wrecks and transform them. The girl this week just dressed a little frumpily, not terribly. And her after wardrobe, with the exception of the Catherine Malandrino dress, didn't wow me.

The oddest part of the evening was the woman's reaction to the new wedding ring she got from her husband. She gushed and cried and trembled and thanked her husband Augie over and over again. He stood there and took the credit even though he saw the ring for the first time when Tim gave it to him that afternoon. Augie didn't come up with the idea, didn't pick it out, and didn't pay for it, yet his wife acted like it was the best thing he'd ever done for her. Wha?

I'm hoping Tim hits his stride and the show improves with time. Tim's too talented and too much fun to watch for the show to disappear. But if it does, at least Tim's going to be back on Project Runway, which is coming back soon. Yay.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

"Boy, you got a panty on your head."

Mom is indoctrinating the next generation of knitters. Yesterday she taught the girls to knit. Ella has taken to it completely. She's in the process of making a lumpy scarf for her American Girl Doll - she's extremely proud of it, and rightly so. My first scarf, which I made with my grandmother's help, looked much the same.
Mom can't wait to get home and tell the folks in her Thursday night knitting group about it.

She had less success with Lily, who at 4 has the attention span of a bug. Mostly Lily made knots out of her yarn. But she did get to go on a field trip to Hobby Lobby to buy new knitting needles and purple yarn for her project.

My sock is slowly growing, one row at a time. That's about all I can knit at a time before getting interupted by someone or something.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I drank the cool-aid

Thanks to my mother, Barb, and the Yarn Harlot, I've decided to try sock knitting. My grandmother taught me to knit when I was about Ella's age, and I messed around with it over the years, never doing anything serious. After Ella was born, I decided to take it up again, and I got really good at baby hats: I knit lots of baby hats. Then when Lily was born I ran out of time to knit baby hats, and packed up my knitting needles on the top shelf of the closet.

My mom has been knitting for ages, making the kids sweaters every year for Christmas. But this summer she decided to knit socks, and she sent me the first pair she knit. They're beautiful. I can't wait for the winter so that I can wear them.

Each time mom comes to town, we have to make a pilgrimage to Hill Country Weavers, a yarn/knitting store on South Congress. We went down yesterday, and I bought some number 2 double-point needles and a skein of sock yarn. Mom gave me a copy of her sock pattern, and I cast on. My goal is to get to the heel, which is where it gets complicated, while my mom is still here so that she can talk me through it.

Here's my first sock after about an hour's worth of knitting.

And here's the sock mom cast on yesterday morning. I have a long way to go.Both yarns are "self striping" so we won't know what the socks will look like until they're done. It's fun to watch the pattern appear as you work.
I've promised B, who's been begging for hand-knit socks for years, that once I get through my first "practice" pair, I'll knit some for him. Maybe I'll actually accomplish that in the next year or so. Every who knits socks says it's addictive. I'm not sure I believe it yet.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I have a new religion

I've found my saviour, and he (it?) is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I'm not sure what it all means, but it exactly suits my silly sense of humor - especially the hate mail section from people who apparently have no sense of humor or irony or satire.

Take a look. In the meantime, I'm ordering myself a Pastafarian shirt.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A gran's job is never done

My mom is here, spoiling the kids rotten. Her reactions to the kids crack me. And they make me wonder where this woman was when I was growing up. I think mom has been replaced by a gran-robot or alien or something.

Yesterday Lily was in full melt-down mode, which was making my mom sort of frantic. First, the girls decided to have a tea party with the tea set Gran gave Ella for her birthday a few years ago. It has two place settings and a little china doll. As Ella was setting stuff out and bossing Lily about what plates and cups she could use, Lily started sobbing that she wanted a little "doll with braids" to have tea with. My response was to get another doll for Lily and sell it as a "special" doll, which it is. It was my doll when I was a child. Mom's response? She promised Lily she'd take her to the store where she got Ella's and see if she could find another tea set with a little doll. Lily learned a very fast lesson: crying works with Gran.

Thus began an afternoon of tears. I responded as I usually do - I sent Lily to her room to cry and told her she could come out when she was finished. Mom was convinced each time that Lily's heart was just breaking over whatever the issue was. Each time I pointed out that Lily stopped crying about a minute after she went in her room. I also pointed out that despite all the heart-breaking sobs, Lily's eyes were completely dry: not a tear in sight.

Campbell spent the morning here with Gran while I was at school with Lily, helping in her class. Even though I wasn't here to witness goings-on, I'm betting that whatever Campbell wanted, Campbell got. When I cleaned up Campbell's lunch plate, I found remnants of a cookie. And yesterday, Campbell got his third through fifth M&Ms, thanks to Gran.

Right now, Ella is taking up Gran's complete attention, having her help select a shell for her "me" bag for school. I keep thinking I should go rescue mom, but she seems to be having a great time, so I'm busy getting other things done. It's nice to have an extra pair of hands around the house, and an extra person to watch performances and discuss school and read books and procure snacks.

A gran's work of spoiling grandchildren is never done . . .

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Birthday present revealed

Mom arrived today, and I broke down and gave her my present. I had it sitting on the dresser in Campbell's bedroom, which is where she sleeps. Here it is:

It's a collage by an artist named Claudine Hellmuth. I found out about her from Heidi, who had gotten a collage of her kids (and her dog and cat) for her husband for father's day. I fell in love with the picture and decided that one would be perfect for my mother's somethingth birthday.

It's an easy process. You fill out a request form and send Claudine photos that you want to use. She photocopies the faces and incorporates them into the collage. What you can't tell from the picture is that it has texture - Ella's belt is a ribbon, and the songs coming out of the birds' mouths are from musical scores. The grass is tissue paper over the canvas.

Heidi helped me pick out a frame and matting (with further help from this awesome guy at Jerry's Artarama), and I put everything together for her. The way the mats are cut you can see the rumpled edge of the canvas and the tissue paper and the wrinkles. It looks wonderful.

Fortunately, after all the buildup I've given her, mom loved the picture. I'm having a hard time with the idea that I have to let it go. I've gotten used to having it in my bedroom. Perhaps it's time I commission one for myself.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lunch with first graders

This morning I forgot to send Ella with lunch money to add to her account, so I decided to surprise her by joining her for lunch and dropping off the money in person. I arrived at school, with Campbell in tow, about 10 minutes before the class left for lunch. I made sure to ask the teacher if it was ok that I was there. I don't know her well enough yet to know whether she allows drop-in visits, and I didn't want to get off on the wrong foot.

Fortunately, she said I had picked the perfect time to arrive because the kids were working on their daily writing workshop. I glanced at Ella's writing sheet and just about had a heart attack. The first word I saw was "bich." I was sure that she was writing about how her mother was a real "bich" sometimes. I took a deep breath and looked again and was relieved to read that instead she had written about her trip to the bich and the fun things she had done. Phew.

I spent the few minutes I was in the class sitting on the floor behind Ella's chair, just watching the goings-on. The teacher seems to run a very calm classroom, and the kids are getting the hang of the routine - most of them at least. One girl drifted over to me and said that she had run out of room on her writing sheet and asked what she should do. Instead of solving the problem for her, I asked what Ms. Sluyter would say to do. The girl thought for a moment and said that the teacher would want her to sit in her seat and raise her hand for help. I suggested that she do that and looked up to see Ms. Sluyter give me an approving nod of thanks. Double phew.

Last year when parents joined their kids for lunch they sat at a special "visitors' table." This year, however, parents and their kids sit at the regular lunch table with the rest of the class. I like this arrangement much better. I know most of the kids in Ella's class because they were all together last year, so it was fun to sit and catch up with them and hear about their summers. I got recaps on their trips to the beach; updates on the numbers of teeth lost, or not lost in one girl's case; and a run down on the new kids in the class. I did get to help one of Ella's classmates, who was sitting in her seat sobbing silently because her stomach hurt; I went and got the lunchroom lady, who escorted the poor girl to the office.

The kids all seemed so big now that they're not the littlest kids in the school. And their conversations are so funny. I didn't learn anything about what goes on in class, but I did get to hear about what's important in their lives - trips, teeth and new friends. Despite the lousy pizza - I ate mine to set a good example for Ella, who didn't fall for it - it was a great lunch.


Several times a year I go through horrible bouts of insomnia, and unfortunately, this is one of those times. I fall asleep without a problem; B will attest that I am dead to the world about 15 minutes after I go to bed - often with the light on and a book across my face.

My problem is staying asleep. This week I've been popping awake at 4 am like clockwork. I think it started when Campbell went through a phase where he woke up at 4 and whimpered for a few minutes. As soon as I went in and patted his back, he'd go right back to sleep. My body got used to waking up then, and I can't get it to stop.

During the time I'm awake I've written some amazing blog entries in my head that haven't made it onto the blog because I've forgotten about them in the morning. I've wandered the house, cleaning up toys. I've replied to work e-mails. I've done everything but fall back to sleep immediately.

It usually takes about an hour for me to settle back down and drift off. Unfortunately, Campbell likes to nurse at about 5:30, so I get woken up right after I've gone back to sleep. Then I have to get back up again at 6:45 to get my day started. As a result, I'm exhausted.

I've tried taking a benadryl to knock me out, but I just wake up even foggier and with a killer sinus headache that turns into a migraine, which is worse than being tired. After my bad experience with making phone calls I don't remember after taking ambien, I'm reluctant to try heavier sleep aids.

So I guess I'll ride it out and wait for this phase to pass. But while I'm waiting, don't be surprised if you get e-mails from me at odd hours.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Cartoon-free morning

We had gotten in the habit during the summer of watching cartoons in the morning while we got ready for the day. Lily's preschool and all of Ella's camps started at 9:00, so there wasn't the sense of urgency we have during the school year, when school starts at 7:40. The girls would get up, get breakfast - Ella can now make herself and her sister toast or eggo waffles - and then turn on Noggin or Nick, Jr. and hang out while I fed the baby and read the paper.

On Monday, they wanted to do the usual routine, but I put a stop to it. We don't have time on school days for them to become hypnotized by Dora or the Backyardigans, or SpongeBob (my personal favorite). I had protests and repeated requests on Monday and Tuesday, but on Wednesday they didn't even ask to watch t.v. while they were getting ready. Not even Lily, who got to watch cartoons during the spring after Ella left and before I took her to preschool. Thursday and Friday were the same.

This morning they both got up and made toast and started a joint art project with their new, huge art pad. It wasn't until 9:30, when I tried to turn on the news, that they asked to watch cartoons.

I let them watch Playhouse Disney and some god-awful show called Johnny and Sprites, which was so sweet that my teeth hurt, but they only lasted for about half an hour before they went back to drawing. Shortly after that, they asked to go outside to ride bikes and roller skate. It did my heart good to know that they aren't complete couch potatoes, despite a summer with lots of cartoons.

I think I'm going to continue the cartoon-free mornings on weekends if I can. It's nice to start the day without the extra noise and commotion.

A dramatic finish

Last night Heidi, Julia, Anne, and I ran the Fila Relays at Zilker Park. It was the first time I'd run the relay, and I am glad I did. It was a well organized, well run event and lots of fun, to boot.

We set up our little encampment right near the start/finish chute, so we had a great view of runners as they came through, and we were able to see everyone on our team come in for the hand off, which made it a lot of fun.

I ran the last leg, since no one else wanted to and I was the one who talked all the others into doing the relay. I headed out on my leg with a specific plan: start off slow and work into my pace. I was tested immediately. As I left the exchange area, a runner blew past me, and I was tempted to pick up the pace and stay with her. But I didn't; I stuck to my plan. I started off nice and slow, keeping my breathing under control. During this stretch, I noticed that the wind had picked up a bit. When I made the u-turn just before mile 1, I saw why it had gotten windy. You know the scene in Ghostbusters when the sky goes black over Manhattan? That's what Austin looked like. It was the blackest, darkest sky I've seen in a long, long time.

I had trouble in the second mile because the wind was picking up dust and grass from the soccer fields and blowing them right at the course. I had to put my glasses on just to protect my eyes.

At about the 1.5 mile mark I caught the girl who had bolted past me at the start, proof that my strategy was working. I ran with her and another man on the part of the course that went behind the Nature Center. I'm glad they were there. It was very dark because of the storm, and there weren't any lights on that stretch. If I had been out there alone I would have probably freaked out.

When we got to the top of the last hill on Barton Spring Road, I decided I needed to just pass the girl I'd been running with. So I downshifted and took off. It felt good to really pick up the pace and see what I could do. It was about this time that it started raining, giving me an extra incentive to run faster. I almost missed the turn into the finish and had to ask spectators if I was headed the right way. I had taken off my glasses and couldn't see well enough in the dark to follow the route, which wasn't marked clearly. I sprinted to the finish with Heidi and Julia cheering me on.

After I grabbed some Gatorade we headed for the car. The beer garden had closed down, and the band was hurriedly packing its equipment. Taco Deli was trying to give away its food, but no one was taking any. We splashed our way back across the soccer fields and the pedestrian bridge to the car, laughing pretty much the whole way. We were soaked, but no one seemed to care.

It was a great evening, partly because of the dramatic and wet ending. I won't forget the race, that's for sure.