Thursday, February 28, 2008

Death of a doll

When my mother was here back in September, she and Ella had a little tea party with Ella's tea set. Lily, as she is wont to do, started sobbing because she didn't have a tea set of her own and she really, really wanted a tea set of her own in a basket with a doll just like Ella has. Mom, as she is wont to do, tried to talk me into going shopping immediately for a tea set. She just can't bear it when Lily cries. I calmed Lily down and talked mom out of an immediate shopping trip, but mom was bound and determined to get Lily a tea set.

I went shopping one day at the Tea Embassy and found a cute little tea set in a basket with a doll. I called mom to see if she wanted me to get it. Of course, she did. She gave Lily the tea set for Christmas, and mom and Lily had many, many tea parties during the week my parents were here.

Unfortunately, about two weeks after Christmas, Lily came out of her room sobbing, holding her tea party doll, who had broken. Half the doll's face broke off, leaving scary googly eyes, and one arm and one leg had snapped off. I thought Lily was crying because of the scary eyeballs, but instead she was just devastated by the broken doll. We put the doll aside and told Lily we'd try to fix it or get a new one.

When mom came to town for Lily's birthday, she insisted on going to the Tea Embassy to see if they had any replacement dolls. They didn't have any exactly like the one that broke, but they did have a ballerina doll, so we got that. Lily was just thrilled, and she put the doll in the place of honor on the big table in the living room.

The next day, my mom was reaching for something on the table and knocked the doll to the floor. She and I just froze in fear, sure that the doll was in a million pieces. Miraculously, the doll survived the fall, but we moved her to a more secure location.

Ballerina doll wasn't so lucky last night. Ella and Lily were playing in their room when I heard Lily start wailing. She came out holding the doll's body in one hand and the doll's head in the other. I really, really wanted to laugh because it is just unbelievable what bad luck we're having with these little dolls, but I couldn't because Lily was so sad.

We put the doll up, and I've promised Lily that I'll find a doll repair shop to put the doll's head back on. I think I need to buy a dozen of these #*&#@ dolls to have as back-ups the next time one breaks, because it's only a matter of time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spousal deception

As I've written before, I'm terrified of going to the dentist. I love my dentist, but that doesn't stop me from being scared to go. Two weeks ago I had an appointment to have my teeth cleaned and a permanent crown put on, but I had to cancel because B had a meeting at the same time and couldn't be here with the kids. I refuse to hire a sitter so that I can go to the dentist. Somehow it just seems like adding insult to injury.

I never rescheduled the cancelled appointment, and I haven't answered the phone when the dentist's assistant called to talk to me about it. That's how phobic I am. B has been hounding me to make another appointment, but I've ignored him.

Last night B started asking about today's schedule and what I had to do. When I told him that it is my week to drive carpool for the first graders, he offered to pick them up for me. I should have suspected something, but instead I filled him in on the proper procedure.

This morning, B came out and announced that he had talked to our dentist and had arranged it so that I was taking his appointment, which is scheduled for this afternoon. Now I have to go to the dentist. B's rationale was that if he took care of the scheduling AND didn't tell me about it until the day of, I couldn't get quite as worked up about it.

I'm still pretty stressed about it, to the point that I'm considering taking a speck of Xanax prior to my appointment. I'm just not sure I'll be able to drive myself home afterwards. And I can't decide whether I'm angry at B for doing this to me. One the one hand, it will be a relief to have the appointment taken care of, but on the other, he's kind of treating me like I do Ella before her annual check-ups. I don't like being treated like a child.

I think B's answer would be that since I'm acting like a child about this he had no other option.

In the meantime, I'm sitting here dreading the appointment and thinking about all the things she's sure to find wrong in my mouth. Sigh.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Book-related meme

FishyGirl tagged me with a book-related meme. So here's my answer.

1. Grab the nearest book with at least 123 pages.
2. Go to page 123.
3. Type in the following three sentences.
4. Tag some number of people.

My book is Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation. My mom gave it to my dad for Christmas and had it shipped here to await their arrival. I sneaked a peek before Christmas and the book intrigued me, so I asked dad if I could borrow it when he was finished. It arrived today, and I'm already a chapter in.

"Born in 1760, Ellicot was more than six feet tall, hardy, and toughened by years of work in the outdoors as a surveyor. He had grown up in a close-knit family with a passion for mathematics. His father, a master clockmaker, had taken the family into the wilderness in the area of Chesapeake Bay, where they had built their home with their own hands."

I don't know yet who Ellicot is, but he sounds pretty interesting. I can't wait to get to page 123 and find out what he's all about.

I'm tagging O'Pine and Megan and Bitsy.

Throwing my hat in

Back in November I blogged about my goal of running the New York City Marathon by the time I'm 45, which is in 7 years. After seeing the Spirit of the Marathon last week, I decided that it was high time to actually do something about meeting that goal. So on Friday I found the official ING New York Marathon Web site and discovered that the lottery for entries opened today.

I just finished registering myself for the lottery, and I have my confirmation e-mail. I'll know in mid-June whether I've been accepted. I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that I get in. With any luck, I'll be in decent enough shape by then that ramping up in time for a November race won't be too hard, or at least as not too hard as training for marathon can be. If I find out that I've been accepted, I'll start thinking about joining a training group of some kind. No one else I run with has expressed any interest, and I'm not sure I'm dedicated enough to do it on my own.

If I don't get accepted, I'll try again next year, and the year after that, too. The race has guaranteed entry for anyone who has signed up for the lottery but not gotten a slot three years in a row. So worst-case scenario is that I'll be running it in 2012. But I hope it's sooner than that. Now that I've made up my mind to run NYC, I want to get going.

This goal even inspired me to get up and run this morning even though I really didn't want to. Ella didn't have school today, so, in theory, I could have slept until atleast 7:00, if not later. I'm glad I got up and ran. I've started this quest on the right foot.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Knitting stats

I was sitting knitting this afternoon - all three kids and husband are gone, bliss - and I was lamenting how long it takes me to finish projects. But then I started listing the things I've knit since September, when my mom made me buy sock wool, and I've knit more than I realized:

3 pairs of socks
3 pairs of baby booties
1 baby hat
1 hat for B
1 felted purse

That's all in about five months. Maybe I'm not knitting as slowly as I thought, given that I fit it in around kids, husband, house, and paying job.

I currently have a pair of socks in progress in this delightful raspberry Mountain Colors wool that my mom gave me for Christmas. I was going to start on a pair of socks out of the Noro sock yarn that mom also gave me, but the skein has disappeared. I've turned OCD, like I always do when I lose something, and I've torn the house apart. I can't find it anywhere. I've ransacked my closet and pulled apart the girls' room, but it's nowhere to be found. I just don't get it.

Unless I find the Noro, my plan is to start on some socks for the girls next. I have some great Supersocke self-striping yarn that I used for the baby booties and baby hat that will be great for socks for the kids. Now I just need a good sock pattern for them. Anyone have any recommendations?

And if you had told me in September that I'd be looking forward to finishing one pair of socks so that I could start another, I'd have laughed at you. I'm officially addicted.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Why I love running

Last night I went to see a movie called The Spirit of the Marathon. It's a documentary that follows a handful of runners as they prepare for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. The movie includes world-class runners Deena Kastor and Daniel Djengo and middle- and back-of-the-packers. It was a fascinating look at runners and how and why they run. A lot of the film was rah-rah stuff about how running a marathon will change your life, but even more of it was, for me, just the sheer joy of running.

I rode to the movie with one of my running friends, and after the film she and I talked about whether the film made us want to run another marathon. She said it didn't - but she's run Chicago and Boston. I said yes - I still feel that I have one marathon to run. I found out I was pregnant with Ella six days before my third marathon and didn't run. Not that I would make a different decision, but I still sort of regret not getting that one last race in.

Mostly, though, the movie reminded me why I love running. The sport is so pure - you put your shoes on your feet and head out the door. There's no hiding behind fancy equipment; it's just you putting one foot in front of the other. There are times when I'm running when I feel that my body is functioning perfectly as a unit - my arms, legs, lungs, heart and brain working as one. It is those rare zen moments that keep me going on the frustrating days when if feels like I've never run before.

I ran this morning with JTS, one of my favorite running partners, and it was just such a perfect way to start the day. It was crisp and cool with a huge moon reflecting on the lake. I felt so strong while I was running and so proud when I finished. I truly felt at peace with the universe for those five miles.

I've been in a funk about running lately. Not actually about the running, but about having to get up at 5:00 to go running. Even with great running partners, it's hard to drag myself out of bed on those cold dark mornings, especially when at least one of my children has woken me up in the night. But last night's movie and this morning's run helped to erase a lot of my funk.

Tomorrow I'm going to tackle a tough seven-mile route. It will be my longest run since my loop around Central Park and up Broadway during my trip to New York two years ago.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Poetry Thursday

Ella came home from school yesterday with an "extra" assignment of writing a poem, and she was thrilled. She chose pillbugs as the topic of her poem - the class now has terrariums with pillbugs living in them.

It's the type of poem where the first letter of each line spells out the subject. At first, she was struggling to rhyme each line, but once I told her that not all poems rhyme, things got easier. But she did ask a question that I wasn't sure how to answer. "If it doesn't rhyme, what makes it a poem?" I'll admit that I don't get poetry. I had to wrestle with reading and analyzing poems in college and grad school, and I just never clicked with the form, despite having some amazing teachers.

So after thinking for a few minutes, I told her poetry was using words to paint pictures; poems are songs without music. I think that description worked.

After finishing her pillbug poem, Ella decided to write a second, this time about the satellite that was shot down last night. Ella is obsessed with all things related to space, and the story about the satellite really got her attention. She was very upset that the militarty was planning to destroy it, even after I explained to her why they were doing it.

Here is Ella's poem about the satellite, sic all spelling errors.

Sroy satellite
At earths orbit
The army will blow you up
Ech and every pece of you might burn up
Like a diying star
Love is what I will all ways give you
I will all ways remember you
Till I diy I will remember you
Even past that

I was pretty impressed, spelling problems aside, with the poem. I especially the like line about the satellite burning up like a "diying" star.

Who knows, perhaps Ella will be a poetess astronaut.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Smarter than the dog

Back in November I declared Campbell as least as smart as our dog. Today I was able to up that assessment to smarter than the dog.

We had to go pick Lily up from preschool, so I told Campbell it was time to get in the car. He bolted to the front door, like he always does, but then he stopped and looked at his feet, which were bare. He turned around, trundled into his room and emerged holding his shoes out to me. I was so impressed that a. he knew he needed shoes, and b. he knew where they were. I praised him to the skies for getting his shoes, to which he replied "zhoosz," which is similar to how he says juice. I have to use context to interperet what he says much of the time.

When I talked to my parents today, I told them about Campbell's getting his shoes for me, and dad was happy to hear that his grandson is smarter than our dog. Now if I can only get his common sense to catch up a bit; he's fallen off the same chair three times today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Herding kittens

I worked in Lily's class this morning as parent helper for the first time in more than a month. My regular sitter has been out of the country, and although she left me a list of numbers for her roommates who also babysit, I never got around to calling them. So I had to request subs at school to work on my days and pay the sub fee.

But today Miss K was back, and so Lily and I headed off to school. As I left, I thought about grabbing my camera, but we were running late and I didn't know where the camera was, so I bolted without it. I really, really wish I had taken 30 seconds to find it.

Lily's preschool is in a church that's on the campus of the University of Texas. The teachers often take the kids on little walks around campus - to the turtle ponds a few blocks away or to the Littlefield House next door to the school. But today, Lily's teacher decided on a grander adventure. We walked over to the Blanton Museum of Art, which is across campus from our school - it's a bit of a walk.

We paired the kids up, attached their "return to ECC" tags, and headed out the gate. Miss M was at the front of the line, and I was at the back. I have pretty long legs and tend to walk quickly, which meant I kept stepping on the pair in front of me. It turns out we shouldn't have paired those particular kids with each other. "Paul" and "Beth" are both daydreamers, and they'd both come to a standstill in the middle of the sidewalk, staring off into space. All the kids would yell that Paul and Beth needed to run to catch up, and they'd take off, only to repeat the process again.

I was interested in watching the reactions of the people we passed on campus. If I were walking along and saw 11 pre-k kids running along, I'd stop to watch and smile. Most people we saw did just that, especially the sorority girls. Others glared at us for blocking the sidewalk with our herd, upset I guess that we were impeding their progrss. Still others ignored us completely. The kids had fun waving to everyone in sight.

Our final destination was an outdoor installation at the Blanton. It was a pergola-like structure hung with hundreds and hundreds of lengths of rubber surgical tubing. The kids had a wonderful time running through them like a car wash, gathering as many of the tubes as they could possibly hold, and wrapping themselves up in the tubs, like flies caught in a springy web.

The teacher and I let them play for about 20 minutes before heading back. We knew the walk back to school would take even longer, and boy did it. About two blocks from the school I thought two of the little boys were going to sit down and refuse to take another step. They should all sleep well tonight from the walk.

As exhausting as the field trip was, I'm glad I had a chance to go. It was fun to watch the kids watching everything around them. They were fascinated by the many statues we passed, and they loved the little go-cart cars the UT police officers drive. It's good for them to be exposed and to have to the oppportunity to explore campus this young, and to see all the different shapes and sizes and races of people who inhabit the place.

But now, I need a nap.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"But it's Presidents' Day!"

That's what Ella wailed when I rousted her out of bed this morning. She was operating under the mistaken belief that school is closed on all holidays. She has no idea why Presidents' Day is a holiday, but she's very sure that she shouldn't have to go to school. I'm not telling her that the little boy across the street, who goes to private school, didn't have school today. That would just be salt in her wounds. She probably would have protested having to go to school on Valentine's Day if it hadn't been for the lure of cards and candy.

I can kind of see where she gets the idea, though. It seems that we've had a day off of school every other week since the end of winter break, and I'm getting tired of it. Every time we get into the swing of our school routine, we get jammed up by a three-day weekend. The worst part is that they aren't real holidays, ones that would keep B home from work, so I'm trapped here with three bored kids bouncing off the walls and furniture.

I pushed Ella out of the car this morning despite her complaints of the unjustness of the universe. When I got home I looked at the school calendar and noticed that Ella has next Monday off - parent-teacher conference day. Sigh. Two weeks after that we have Spring Break. Doesn't the school district know that it's highly inconvenient for us to have the kids underfoot that much?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Campbell and his spoon

Campbell now refuses to eat unless we give him a spoon. His level of success with it varies according to the food he's trying to eat. He's pretty good with dry cheerios and goldfish, not so good with spaghetti.

Enjoy Lily's running commentary. She was a very quiet baby, but when she turned two, a switch flipped and we haven't been able to get her to stop talking since. Lately, however, she's taken it up a notch, and there are days when I swear my ears are going to bleed from her non-stop chatter.

Runners in the mist

When I woke up at 6:00 to go running, B told me I was an idiot. Surprisingly, he'd already been out to get the paper, and he told me that it was so wet that it might as well be raining. I said that as long as it wasn't pouring, I'd be fine. He again called me an idiot and crawled back into bed with the baby monitor by his pillow.

Turns out it was a great morning for running. The mist never turned into rain, and it was "warm" enough for shorts, a long sleeved shirt and vest. I wore a cap, but that was just to keep the mist off my face, not to protect my head from the cold.

I met up with two running friends, and we headed out to run the Windsor Loop, which is my favorite route in Austin. It winds through some really pretty areas with gorgeous old homes and includes a few challenging hills. I always feel that I've really accomplished something when I finish the Windsor Loop. This morning I felt great the whole way and handled the hills without too much difficulty, which is kind of amazing considering that I haven't done a hill run in months.

The best part of it all was that when I got home, everyone was still asleep. I was able to take a long, hot shower to stave off hypothermia without interruption from kids complaining that they were hungry, thirsty or bored.

Today's forecast is for more rain and mist, with the possibility of severe storms. I think we're going to stay in all day, wearing pajamas, and do fun at-home stuff. It's the perfect day for it, especially since I got my run in already.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Get out and cheer, already

Sunday is the Austin Marathon, and the route comes right down our street for the second year. Just like last year, we're hosting a big marathon cheering party; we'll have at least 50 people in our front yard and on the side walk. All my running friends love having a place to watch the race that has hot coffee, food AND clean bathrooms.

When I ran my first marathon, way back in 1998, I loved running down Shoal Creek Blvd. because all the residents of the street were out in their yards cheering. It seemed like such a neat thing - being able to sit on your porch and watch a race. I always dreamed of living somewhere that I could do just that. But I always figured I'd have to move to a big street to have a race come by my house. Little did I know that they'd bring the race to me.

As the race has grown closer, the girls have gotten more and more excited about it. They've had the chance to watch all the training groups come through during their Saturday runs and to practice cheering for them. Two weeks ago, the organizers painted a blue stripe along the whole route, including down our street. And yesterday workers dropped off the baricades for our corner. I have to admit that I'm pretty geeked out about all of this.

Unfortunately, not everyone in the neighborhood is as excited as I. Last week a woman put a post on our neighborhood listserv complaining about the road closures because her husband hadn't been able to get home from the bakery a few weeks ago when the roads on the edge of our neighborhood were closed for the Half Marathon. In the e-mail, the woman asked for the name of the person at the city who approves the races.

I wavered about responding but finally decided I had to.

During the Half Marathon, I was talking to the woman who coordinated the bands along the race routes, and she said that the organizers had gotten so many complaints from residents of our area that they had to schedule an accoustic band for that section of the race. I was so embarassed that our beloved little neighborhood was getting a bad repuation with race organizers, and I apologized profusely to the woman.

So I wrote and rewrote a response to the complaint e-mail pointing out that there had been signs all along the Half Marathon route warning of road closures. I also said that the Half Marathon and Marathon are becoming known premiere races and are drawing top runners from around the world. They are an excellent chance for us to show off our city and our neighborhood. I finished my response by saying that I'll be trapped at home on race morning, so I'll be out cheering with coffee, bagels and friends and that I hoped everyone in the hood would do the same thing.

I sent the response to the listserv and prepared to be flamed. In the past, there have been some pretty hostile exchanges about races. Instead, I got a dozen e-mails, both just to me and on the listserv, thanking me for my response. One e-mail was from a man who lives in the hood and who will be running on Sunday. I felt much better about our neighborhood after getting the replies.

During our run on Wednesday, my friend JTS and I were talking about crowd support during the marathon. She said that the Houston Marathon has thousands of people who turn out to cheer even though they don't know anyone who is running. In Austin, the crowd is usually just people who have friends running, and that's embarassing. Houston, ranked as one of the fattest cities in the country, can turn out huge city-wide support for a great race. Austin, one of the fittest cities, doesn't even come close. Instead of huge crowds, we get people complaining about road closures and traffic.

So if you're reading this and you live in Austin, come on out Sunday and cheer. There are 26.2 miles worth of roads to choose from. Take a chair and drinks and bells and whistles and noisemakers and do our city proud. We'll be doing our best here at mile 19.5.

Odds and ends

The difference between me and my husband
B came yesterday and announced he'd been to IKEA. And he only bought three things: a curtain, curtain rod, and rod holders, all for his office. He spent a total of $40.

My eyes glazed over at the thought of his going without me.

Then I asked if he had felt the need to just buy lots of stuff, like fun kitchen tools, pillows, and new linens for the bed, and candles. His answer? "No."

There's something wrong with him.

Little Miss Observant
This morning I took Lily and our buddy W to preschool. Lily chattered the whole way, telling me stories about her Arielthelittlemermaid doll, who was swimming around the back seat and sitting in Campbell's car seat.

We got to school, unloaded the car, and went inside before Lily looked at me and asked, "Where's Campbell?"

It took her that long to notice that his seat, which she sits next to in the car, had been empty. I told her it was a good thing she wasn't in charge of watching him.

Campbell was home with B, by the way.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bah humbug

I know there's a movement in the bloggy world to post something about love every Thursday, and given that today is Valentine's Day, I'm sure there will be lots of Love Thursday posts. But this isn't one of them.

A writer in today's paper referred to the day as one of "oppresive mandatory fun," and that description perfectly suits my attitude about the day. So many holidays seem to be artificial constructs developed by greeting card and party supply stores to get people to buy things. I know that Valentine's Day has a religious origin, but so do Halloween and St. Patrick's day, both of which have just turned into an excuse for grown-ups to get drunk and act like idiots. A religious origin doesn't seem to mean much these days.

I tell my husband and my kids that I love them many times a day. I find ways every day to show my love - tucking a surprise treat in Ella's snack bag, snuggling with Lily after Ella goes off to school, smothering Campbell with kisses, making coffee for my husband every morning even though I can't drink it. Why do I need a greeting card company to force me to show my love for my family?

So instead of being loving toward my husband and kids today, I end up being surly and grouchy. It happens every year. B and I swore off any big celebrations of the day years ago, and it's a good thing we did. We have a lousy track record with the holiday. Tonight, he's cooking dinner, provided he can come home from the office early enough. And honestly, that's enough for me. Having him cook dinner and put the kids to bed is the best gift he could possibly give me.

I do try to suck it up for the girls, though. They both woke up so excited about the day that they were singing. Ella's class is giving a concert of love songs for the other first grade classes, and I took Lily to school this morning even though I have to pick her up early for "ballelet" so that she could be there for at least part of her class party. They both picked out red dresses and skirts to wear, and Lily insisted on a pink bow in her hair. I, however, am wearing green.

For the sake of my own mood, I think I'll forgo reading any mushy Love Thursday posts today. They'll just make me feel worse.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I need a butler

I've been watching the TV movie Bernard and Doris, which is about Doris Duke and her odd relationship with her odd butler, Bernard Lafferty. Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes play the leading characters. Sarandon is divine; I hope I can be half as fabulous as she is when I'm that age. Fiennes gives me the creepy-crawlies, and he always has. I almost didn't watch the movie because he's in it.


While watching the movie, I had a revelation: I need a butler. My life would be so much easier if I just had someone to run it for me. My butler would keep my schedule, make sure my laundry was back from the dry-cleaners, answer the phones, and just keep me pulled together, all the while being calm and polite and unobtrusive.

I have women friends who joke that they need wives for this reason, but really, I want a butler. I want it to be someone with whom I have no connection other than employee-employer and the only obligation I have to him is financial. And it has to be an Irishman, preferrably not a creepy one like Fiennes.

Really, I don't see why "stay at home moms" can't have a personal assistant of some sort. I've had assistants in my professional life who helped run things at the office. Heck, I've been an assistant. B has two assistants at his office - although I did threaten him with divorce if he ever sends one of his assistants to buy me a birthday, anniversary or Christmas gift on his behalf. So why can't I - a mother of three with a part-time freelance job - have one, too? Being a mother is more than a full-time job, and lord knows I could use some help.

B has said that if we ever have the money we'll hire someone to come in once a week to cook and do laundry so that I can spend more time on the kids and volunteering. I've argued against that idea for a long time, but now I think I can get behind it. I'll just make sure we hire me a butler.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Not one of "Those Moms"

Last Friday Ella's school celebrated the 100th Day of School. They had parties in the classrooms, and all the kids had to do a "100 Day" project. The projects had to be some sort of visual representation of 100 - stickers, baseball cards, pokemon cards, noodles, etc. Ella did a times table to 10x10, of which she was quite proud because she did all the multiplication on her own.

She brought the times table home Friday very upset, saying that everyone else in the class had their projects hung in the hallway, but she did't. I suggested that she talk to her teacher and ask about it, but Ella wouldn't do it.

This morning I ended up driving Ella to school because I slept through the alarm and we missed the carpool. When we arrived, the kids were all busy with their morning routine, and the teacher was in the corner sorting through homework. So I took a deep breath and asked her why Ella's project wasn't on display with the other kids'.

I smiled very big when I did it, and I prefaced my question by saying, "I don't want to be one of Those Moms." It turns out there was a legitimate explanation for Ella's project being sent home instead of put on display. The teacher, whom we adore, went home sick Friday at lunch time with what turned out to be strep. She was so dehydrated that she ended up in the hospital over the weekend on IV fluids. The sub who took over the class didn't realize that Ella's project was supposed to be put up instead of sent home.

In the end, I am so glad that I didn't go in with a chip on my shoulder, complaining that Ella wasn't being treated fairly. Instead, I hugged the teacher and told her she should call the next time something like that happens so that we can help in some way - really, we love this teacher; she is so tiny and cute that you want to put her in your pocket. When I left, she was kneeling next to Ella and explaining the mix up. Ella's project will be put on display this morning after math time.

When Ella started school, I promised myself that I wouldn't run interference or meddle in her school life too much. I think she needs to learn to deal with issues with her teachers and classmates on her own. But this is one time that I'm glad I ignored that promise. What started out as a simple misunderstanding could have turned into something much worse if I hadn't spoken up. Ella's feelings had been hurt, and nothing gets my dander up more than having one of my children upset.

But now everything is better, and Ella loves her teacher again.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Caffeine, wonderful caffeine

Last Thursday I called my neurologist's office to report that her new treatment method of not providing treatment for my migraines wasn't working. I talked with the nurse, who wasn't the regular nurse, and told her that I've been off caffeine for 30 days and following the doctor's recommendation of not using Imitrex more than one day out of seven and taking Advil when I couldn't take Imitrex. She said she'd talk to the doctor and call me back.

Twenty-four hours later she called back to give me the name and number of a different neurologist, one who specializes in pain management. At that point, I got a little hysterical and started ranting about how I didn't feel like Dr. R. was providing treatment and how I might as well be taking Jellybeans for the pain for all the good the Advil was doing me (thanks, Barb, for the analogy).

Well the nurse obviously told the doctor what I'd said, because fifteen minutes later, the doctor was on the phone to talk me down. It didn't go well.

She again asked if I'd consider daily preventive medicine, and I again explained that every time I've taken daily meds, my life has gotten worse, not better. She told me she was at a loss on how to treat my migraines any further and suggested I call the pain management doc and possibly find a new neurologist who was better versed in treating migraines. She offered to call in any and all refills for me - including Imitrex and my pain pills - while I was finding a new doc, and told me I was welcome to take the Imitrex and pain meds as much as needed. WTF? Why did she tell me not to take them, then?

So I think we've agreed to mutually fire each other. And I'll be looking for a new doc.

To "celebrate" I drank a real coke this morning, one with caffeine. I figured that if I can take the meds again, I can have caffeine. The funny thing is, as much as I've craved a real coke during the past month, it didn't taste as good as I expected it to, and I feel rather guilty about giving in on the no-caffeine gig. I've resolved yet again not to have any more caffeine, at least not until the end of lent. Or until my doc gives me permission to have it, whichever comes first.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Eight random things

I was tagged by CKHolder, so now I have to come up with eight random things about myself. Here they are; some are more random than others.

1. I'm left-handed and very proud of it. My father and his mother are also both left-handed.

2. No one spells my maiden name correctly - not even the passport office or the Social Security Administration or the bank. I have the same maiden name as a very famous American painter, and no one spells her name correctly, either.

3. For several years I was very into stamping and making cards. I haven't made a single card since Campbell was born. Now I'm thinking of liquidating my stamp collection and using the shelf space for my yarn stash, which has grown exponentially in the past six months.

4. I graduated from college in three years. I wasn't even old enough to go out for a drink to celebrate after my last final. Fortunately, my dad arrived with a bottle of champagne that we drank out of jelly jars.

5. I didn't walk at graduation. I went to the University of Flordia, and I knew maybe 3 of the 3,000 other graduates since I declined to enlist in the Greek system. I told my parents I wasn't going to walk, and they were relieved. Instead, I went to their house in Atlanta and had my wisdom teeth out.

6. I had surgery on my knee 17 years ago, and it was like being given a new knee. I now refer to that knee as my good one.

7. I have 7 pairs of running shoes in my closet.

8. I sucked my thumb until I was 8.

Now I'm supposed to tag two people, which always makes me nervous. I like being tagged, but what if the people I tag don't? Drunken Housewife and FishyGirl, you're up. Or not, if you don't like tags. It's up to you.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ice princesses

The girls went to an ice skating birthday party on Monday and had the times of their lives. One of our local malls, which is soon going to be demolished to make way for the largest Mega Wallmart in the state, has an ice skating rink.

Taking the girls skating has been something I've meant to do for a long time, but the opportunity never really presented itself. I wasn't sure if I'd have to hold on to both of them at the same time, and then there was the question of what to do with Campbell while we skated. On Monday, though, the stars aligned. My mom was still in town, so she came with us and wrangled Campbell, while I skated with the girls.

I was amazed at how well they caught on and how quickly. Ella held my hand for about 5 minutes and then took off on her own with some of her friends. Lily held my hand for longer, but after about 20 minutes she'd let go and skate on her own for a bit. Both of them fell a few times - Lily took some hard tumbles - but they kept at it. I was so proud of their stick-to-it-ness.

The girls had so much fun that they burst into tears when it was time to leave to take my mom to the airport. I managed to calm them down by promising a return trip sometime soon. Of course, they've been asking ever since when we can go. Ella is even asking to have her birthday party there. And she wants skating lessons just like one of her friends. I think we may have started down a dangerous path.

One other dad and I were the only parents skating. He asked if I had learned to skate when I was a child and living up north. Oddly enough, I didn't learn to skate until we lived in Florida; there was a mall near my grandparents' house in Clearwater that had a skating rink. When we visited my grandparents, my sister and I would beg for a side trip to the mall for skating. Of course, my sister has some pod-child memory of how I swore I'd never skate again after seeing how much better she was at it that I. As if . . .

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Warning, political discussion

So I'm going to state my political position publicly, which leaves me open to comments and criticism, but I don't care. Why now? Because after yesterday's primaries, it's obvious that for the first time since I moved to Texas, my vote in the state primary will actually mean something.

I've spent a long time thinking about whom I'll support, and it wasn't an easy decision. I'm going to vote for Obama. I like his message, and I like his enthusiasm. I think he'll be a good president. But mainly, I think he's the most electable. And dammit, we need to elect someone. Democrats have too great a history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and I don't want to see it happen again this year.

I like Hillary Clinton. I think she's smart. I think she's hard-working. From everything I've read, she's done an excellent job as senator. But the problem is the right's rabid dislike of her. If she's the Democratic candidate, the members of the vast right-wing conspiracy will turn out full force to defeat her; they won't be voting for a Republican candidate, they'll be voting against Hillary. It'll make the voter turnout against the gay marriage ammendments in 2004 look like child's play. Because of the right's hatred of her, I don't think she'll be able to pull the swing voters necessary to win.

It's funny, I didn't understand the right's hatred of the Clintons until Bush had been in office about a year or so. Now I get it. If he were running again (god forbid), I'd vote for whomever the Dems ran against him in the hopes of getting rid of him. I suppose that's why I think Obama is the more electable candidate.

Obama has enough cross-over appeal to pull swing voters, and he's not threatening enough to pull the right wingers to the polls, especially if McCain is the Republican candidate. McCain is moderate enough that the religious right will probably stay home rather than vote for him. At least I hope that's the case.

Still, I'm a bit sad that I'm making this choice. Ella asked me the other night whether we've ever had a woman president, and when I said no, she asked why not. I didn't have a very good answer for her, especially when I started listing the countries that have had women leaders. With any luck, by the time my daughters are adults with daughters of their own, they'll be able to give a different answer than I did.

The one positive note in all of this is that for the first time in decades, the Democrats have two strong candidates to choose from. It's about time it happened.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Birthday Girl

It's hard to believe it's been five years already, and Lily has changed from this . . .

to this.

She's gone from being my roly-poly, blue-eyed baby, to being my big five-year-old girl. She seems to have shot up and leaned out almost over night. Her legs are now almost as long as Ella's are. Lily has also turned into a very determined little girl - keeping at things until she gets them right - like riding her bike or ice skating. She also loves dancing, and she twirls and leaps and spins through her day. Lily is also quite the little commedienne, but I don't know that she knows she's funny. She just has a way of saying things that cracks us all up. And unlike Ella, Lily still loves to snuggle in my lap on the sofa, and at my desk, and in my bed, and on the floor.

We had her party yesterday, and if Lily had been any more excited about it, her head would have exploded. We had a bike parade party up at the neighborhood elementary school. I set up the party on a few picnic tables and let the kids loose on the sidewalks and paths with their bikes. Based on the noise level, they loved every minute of it. There was even a playground for those who didn't want to ride their bikes. Everyone decorated their bikes with flags and balloons and beads, and everyone got a compass so they wouldn't get lost.

The best part of it all was that Lily was able to invite all of her friends since space wasn't an issue, and my house didn't get wrecked from having 20 kids plus their parents crowding in.

When Ella turned five, I dropped her off at preschool and drove home in tears. I didn't get the least bit misty about Lily's big birthday, but I have a feeling I'll sob when she goes off to kindergarten. I can still think of her as my baby girl even though she's five, but it'll be harder to still think of her that way when she's off at school. I'll have to come to grips with her growing up.


Friday, February 01, 2008

A tale of two refrigerators

We got a new refrigerator yesterday. Actually, it's a new-to-us refrigerator. It came from the house one of B's clients just sold - long story. It's almost brand-new, just a year or two old, and it's much bigger than our old one. It's a side-by-side, with a water and ice dispenser in the door, which the kids think is way cool. I predict their water consumption is about to go up exponentially. And as soon as Campbell figures out how to push a chair over and get the water to come out, I predict I'll be cleaning a lot of puddles.

Our old refrigerator has been relegated to the garage, and B says he's turning it into a "kegerator" for his beer. I asked if he had suddenly reverted to college age.

I'm a bit sad to see it go, though. It was my very first brand-new refrigerator. Throughout college and grad school I lived in apartments and had to deal with whatever came with the living quarters, and they weren't always terrible.

The first house B and I rented together didn't have a refrigerator in the kitchen, but the owners told us there was one out in the back shed we could use. We dragged it in the house and cleaned out the rodent nests, and I spent two hours cleaning it with bleach and tooth brush to make it even close to usable. It was so old that the freezer was inside the refrigerator, and it needed to be defrosted at least once a month or we'd lose our frozen stuff inside a glacier.

We bought our first house right after we got married, and it came with an old refrigerator. It was in such bad shape that the bottom shelf was held up by the crisper drawers. Every time we opened on of the drawers, we ran the risk of the shelf's capsizing and dumping everything on the floor.

Then, 4th of July weekend of that year, we got a flyer about a big appliance sale at Home Depot and decided to take the leap and buy our very own refrigerator. It wasn't fancy, and it wasn't very expensive, but it had an ice maker and it was so clean and white. For the first few weeks, I hugged the new refrigerator every time I went in the kitchen.

But now, almost 11 years later, it sits in the garage, lonely and forlorn, destined to hold spare gallons of milk and cases of beer. I almost want to go out and hug it and promise that we won't forget about it.

Hmmm. Perhaps Ella comes by her obsession with not throwing away toys honestly.

Even though the new refrigerator is so much bigger and hold so much easier to store things in - it holds four gallons of milk with room to spare - I'm just not as excited about it as I was the other one. I feel no need to go hug it, even if it does have a water and ice dispenser on the front.