Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Oreo Bandits

The girls are now responsible for clearing the dinner table, loading the dishes in the dishwasher, and wiping the table and counters. For the most part, they do a pretty decent job, although I do sometimes have to rearrange the dishwasher.

Thursday night, I left them to their kitchen duty and took Campbell back to my bathroom for his bath. While while he was splashing in the tub, Lily came twirling back, her face covered in chocolate crumbs.

When I asked her if she had eaten an Oreo, she looked a bit startled. I told her her face was covered in chocolate, and she said, "Ella told me not to tell you we had Oreos." I shooed her back out to the kitchen to get her sister.

Ella came back looking a bit stricken. I told her that the next time they sneak Oreos she should make sure her sister cleans her face up. Then I told her that I was upset at what they'd done because if they had asked me for an Oreo, I would have said yes since they'd eaten such good dinners.

I said that sneaking Oreos and then telling Lily not to tell me was the same as lying to me, and as a result they were going to go straight to bath and bed without stories.

Ella got that they were in trouble and did exactly as she was told for the rest of the evening. Lily, on the other hand, despite being present for my lecture, did not. She twirled through the rest of the evening, needing to be reminded several times about what she was supposed to be doing. Then, when I put them in bed without stories, she said, "Wait! You didn't read to us." I think that if Ella had been within reach, she would have smacked her sister. I reminded Lily that they didn't get stories because of the Oreos, and she burst into dramatic tears at the injustice of it all.

I do wonder what lesson they might have learned from this - not to sneak cookies or to be more careful at hiding the evidence when they do. I suppose only time will tell.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Who are you?

That's what my sister asked me two weeks ago after reading about my blind date and hearing that I'd joined Facebook. Well, Wednesday night I did another thing completely out of character for me.

I bought make up. Real make up. Grown up make up. Expensive make up.

The last time I went make up shoping like this was 11 1/2 years ago, about a month before my wedding. My mom didn't want me to walk down the aisle without anything on my face, so she dragged me to the Clinique counter and had the women there gussy me up. She then bought the whole lot to make sure that I'd have it on hand on the big day. Before the wedding she and my sister supervised me while I put it on.

I'm not anti make up; I just never got in the habit of wearing it.

Sure, I went through an unfortunate phase in my teens, which were in the lovely mid-80s. I had those eye shadow sets with three different colors that had complicated application instructions. And I had the colored mascara - honestly, who thought blue eyelashes were a good idea?

Wearing make up got to be a hassle with my swimming. If I didn't want to look like a drowned racoon, I'd have to take all the make up off in the grimy locker room before practice. And once I started swimming twice a day, I'd have to lug everything to the pool and put it all on in the same grimy locker room. It was just too much trouble.

So why now? Because I'm feeling drab and washed out and tired looking. And because I feel that age 38 I ought to at least own enough make up to look nice on a rare night out.

I went out with B's cousin's wife, otherwise known as Aunt A to the kids, Wednesday night. She always looks stylish and put together, so I figured she'd be a good person to chaperone me - both to make sure I didn't end up looking like a tramp and to make sure I didn't run from the store in terror.

Aunt A was the perfect choice. We went to Nordstrom, where I had a birthday gift card to spend, and she steered me to the right counter and asked all the right questions of the make up lady. I think she did get a bit frustrated with me when I said I didn't want any pencils or liners or shapers. I also vetoed multiple eyeshadow colors.

I ended up with exactly what I'd hoped for - a mineral powder, some blush, some eyeshadow and some lip stick. I did suffer a little sticker shock when I heard the total, but I reminded myself about the gift certificate. Also, when I consider how rarely I buy make up, the cost will average out over the next year or two.

Yesterday I wore the make up all day - putting it all on took exactly two minutes - and B kept referring to me as a "painted lady." I kept threatening to kick him in his bad foot.

Now when I drop the girls off at school and go to the grocery store, I won't feel quite so drab.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hope Thursday

Last night I tuned into the national news just in time to see Senator Clinton move to suspend the rules of the convention and nominate Barack Obama unanimously. The speech she gave was perfect, and the roar of the crowd when Speaker Pelosi asked for a second to the motion was overwhelming. But it was nothing to the roar when the speaker asked all those in favor to say "aye."

Now it could have been the pregnancy hormones, but I burst into tears and sat on the sofa and sobbed while ABC did a re-broadcast of the event. It was the first time I've been even a little bit hopeful about the outcome of this election.

I've been sure up until now that the Democrats, as is their wont, will manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory through their bickering and infighting.

And I have cursed at those idiots carrying signs that say "Clinton for McCain" and "Party Unity My Ass" and "Country Before Party." Really? You think voting for McCain is the answer to Clinton's not getting nominated? You are in such a snit about the primaries that you are willing to throw your vote away on four more years of Bush-like rule?

But last night, watching the crowd at the convention and reading excerpts of the speeches and seeing clips on the news (I'll admit that I didn't watch the convention because I had a rare evening out with a friend), I actually allowed myself to hope that Barack Obama might just get elected after all.

It's been a long eight years since I've had any faith in our government and our political process. I just hope my new-found optimism lasts through to November.

Happy Hope Thursday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

School-zone vigilante

Now I know we've all had our moments of spaciness in school zones where we've gone faster than we should have. Two close friends have even gotten speeding tickets in school zones for just such offenses. I can forgive being a harried and hurried parent taking kids to school, provided you don't make a habit of it.

What I can't tolerate is those who think the school zone doesn't apply to them because they are too important to slow down and watch out for little kids. This morning I exacted my vengeance on just such a woman.

Our neighborhood has a pretty wide main drag - one way on each side of an arroyo (dry ditch in Spanish). Each side is wide, but it's not two lanes, not even close.

I was tooling along, heading to school with the girls, going the regular speed limit, when this woman blew up behind me and almost rear-ended me. She stopped short but continued to drive right on my rear bumper. After about 100 feet of this, we hit the school zone, so I slowed down even further. She crawled further up my back bumper. Then she started swerving from side to side to try and pass me - passing on the right in a school zone! So I moved to the center of the lane and held my ground. I could see her yelling at me in the rear-view mirror.

I made her even angrier when I stopped to let a whole group of kids cross in the crosswalk, which is the law, by the way. She nearly ran into my bumper again, stopping just in time to sit there and seethe.

Once we started moving again, she turned off on a side street, squealing her tires as she went.

I know it was petty of me to act like that. But honestly, how much of a hurry to you have to be in to deliberately speed in a school zone? How much of a self-important jerk do you have to be to assume that the school zone doesn't apply to you?

Of course, having written this, I'm going to space out tomorrow morning and get busted for it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Campbell's turn

Today Campbell headed off to his first day of preschool. He'll be going every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 9-1 to the same little school that Ella and Lily both went to. In fact, he has the same teacher, the divine Ms. K, the girls had.

I bought Campbell a new lunchbox on Monday for school. He was very proud of it, even if he wasn't all that sure what exactly it was. He carried it out to the car all by himself.

When we got to school, his reaction was pretty funny. He looked around the car and then gave me a puzzled glance, kind of like he was saying, "Why are we here? W (our carpool buddy) and Lily aren't with us." We walked to his classroom and put up his lunchbox and supplies, and he immediately started playing with some toys. But then after about five minutes, he went to the gate and started rattling it, ready to leave I guess.

Ms. K got him involved in playing with our friend L (W's little sister) at the water table. He was happily occupied there when I gave him a quick kiss and ducked out. Unfortunately, he realized I was leaving before I made it out of the gate. But I stayed strong and kept walking. I trust Ms. K completely in dealing with him, and I knew he was just fine in her hands.

The report when I picked Campbell up was that he cried for a few minutes but then stopped without a problem. It will be interesting to see what happens when I take him on Thursday when he knows he's going to be left behind.

I celebrated my morning by going home, straightening up the house, taking a shower without any short people bothering me, and taking a two-hour nap. I'm going to make the most of the next two months of two free mornings a week while I can.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Off to school they go

Ella and Lily started school this morning. I can't believe the summer is over already, but I'm grateful it is. The bicker twins were getting way too tired of each other and of me. We came home from vacation to the good news that we'd gotten the teachers we'd requested, even though we'd heard rumors that the principal didn't take parent requests into consideration.

Our school is one of the few in Austin ISD that has mult-age classrooms. Last year Ella was in the combined kinder-first, and we LOVED both of the teachers. So when we found out that Lily is now in that class, we were thrilled. It made dropping Lily off at her first day of kinder much easier for everyone since we all already knew her teachers from last year.

Ella is now in the combined second-third class, and it will be interesting to see how she handles not being one of the big kids in the class. She can get a little too big for her britches sometimes, and I think being in a classroom where she's not the oldest and smartest (that's her opinion, not mine), will be good for her.

In preparation for school, I let the girls pick out their own first-day outfits. I wasn't thrilled with Ella's choice, but given some of the things I'd already vetoed, I viewed this as a good compromise. It turns out that it's hard to buy clothes for a seven-year-old if you don't want things with Hannah Montana or High School Musical on them. So far, we've been free of both those movies/shows/whatever they are, and I'd like to keep it that way. Plus, all of the stores we went to seemed to think that we live in New England, where it might actually be cool enough to wear long pants and sweaters and tights. I really had to scrounge to find any shorts. My quest for clothes is complicated by the fact that Ella refuses to wear skirts or dresses - because she can't hang upside-down on the monkey bars when she does.

Shopping for Lily, on the other hand, was much easier. The little girl sections had lots of cute skorts and dresses, and Lily's not all that fussy about her clothes. If it has hearts or flowers, she'll take it. And she'll wear dresses. She did, however, refuse to wear her new "very fast" running shoes until she went to school today because she didn't want to get them dirty.

Tomorrow I take Campbell for his first day of preschool, and I have a feeling it will be hard to decide which of us cries harder.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Criminals after my own heart

Given that I've been known to correct typos on menus and chalkboards outside of stores and restaurants, I got a kick out of this story on two guys who are now banned from national parks for a year for defacing a sign at the Grand Canyon.

Now, I don't necessarily advocate defacing historic signs that were hand lettered by the architect, but I do understand the impulse to put a stray apostrophe back where it belongs.

The Typo Eradication Advancement League's Web site seems to be down for the moment, but I have it bookmarked so I can check for updates later. I'd love to read their stories about traveling the country fixing typos.

Friday, August 22, 2008


While I was at the beach Jolly Roger tagged me. I saved it for a day when I didn't really have anything else to write. And today is the day.

A. Attached or single? Attached - for almost 12 years now
B. Best friend? H, H, L, and L
C. Cake or pie? Don't make me choose
D. Day of choice? Monday. I like the week-day routine.
E. Essential item? Running shoes - I currently have 6 pairs sitting in my closet. Of course, I'm not using them right now because I can't run.
F. Favorite color? Azalea pink
G. Gummy bears or worms? Bears
H. Hometown? That's tough - we moved a lot. I was born in Albany, NY but grew up in Sarasota, FL. But now I consider Austin my one and only home.
I. Indulgence? Pedicures.
J. January or July? Even though my birthday is in July, I prefer January. It's too hot in July
K. Kids? Three with a fourth on the way
L. Life isn’t complete without? Books and my iPod
M. Marriage date? 4/22/97
N. Number of brothers & sisters? 1 sister
O. Oranges or apples? Apples, especially in pie
P. Phobias? UFOs
Q. Quotes? My current favorite is "Motherhood is like being pecked to death by chickens."
R. Reasons to smile? My kids, my husband, our friends
S. Season of choice? Fall
T. Tag seven peeps! Oh goodness. Consider yourself tagged if you read this and want to play along.
U. Unknown fact about me? I have a tattoo on my ankle. I was in grad school and completely sober when I got it.
V. Vegetable? Fresh corn on the cob
W. Worst habits? Worrying
X. X-ray or ultrasound? I haven't had an x-ray since high school. I had an ultrasound last month.
Y. Your favorite food? Hmmm . . . too many to list
Z. Zodiac sign? Cancer

There you go. If you decide to tag yourself, leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Doctor woes

I had a doctor's appointment first thing this morning, and I was so frustrated I was almost in tears by the end of it.

My doctor, Dr. L., who delivered Lily and Campbell, is wonderful. She's a kind, caring person, and I have complete trust in her. And until this morning, I've only ever had one complaint about a staff member at her office, and when she heard about my complaint, Dr. L. called me to apologize and take care of the issue.

The problem is that she is on indefinite leave from the office because of some serious health issues. I knew about this the last time I went in and saw her lead nurse practitioner, whom I trust as much as I do Dr. L. When I finished my appointment last time, the nurse practitioner told me we'd figure out a game plan for the rest of my pregnancy and my delivery, which is going to be a c-section, at today's appointment.

The problem is that I saw one of the other nurse practitioners today, and she acted like I was insane when I relayed what the other nurse practitioner said.

Here's part of our conversation.

RNP: We'll set your c-section date when we get a week away from your due date.
HOK: Ummm, Dr. L. and M (the other RNP) told me that we'd be putting my c-section on the calendar at 20 weeks, which didn't happen. And M told me at my last appointment that we'd put it on the calendar today.
RNP: No, that's not how we do things. We'll set it a week out with whichever doctor is on the schedule to work that day.
HOK: But what if I want to pick which doctor does my surgery.
RNP: Well, you certainly have the right to do that.
HOK: Does that mean I should look at switching to one of the other doctors in the group?
RNP: Well, you certainly have the right to do that.
HOK: Is there one in particular you can recommend?
RNP: You'll need to go to our Web site and look at all the doctors and make your choice that way.

The RNP also kept saying that I only needed to see a doctor once a trimester, and my saying that it's already been almost a trimester since I saw Dr. L didn't have any effect on her. I gave up at that point because I was about to get hysterical.

When I stopped at the appointment desk on my way out, I asked for an appointment with Dr. C. One of my best friends who is in the same position has switched to her, and I have another friend who has seen her for three challenging pregnancies and three c-sections. I have an appointment in three weeks. I asked the appointment scheduler if I was allowed to come back as a patient if Dr. L's health issues cleared up and she returned to practicing. She assured me that I could.

I suppose I'm especially touchy about this because it's not the first time it's happened. When I was 6 months' pregnant with Ella, my OB was diagnosed with MS and had to shut down her practice. I switched to one of her on-call partners based on the recommendation of a friend, and I ended up hating the doctor and her whole staff, except the nurse practitioner, but I wasn't allowed to just see her for the remainder of the pregnancy, no matter how much I begged.

I'm really afraid of having a repeat situation, even though I know it's not likely. Plus I feel terribly selfish for being upset at having to switch doctors when Dr. L is facing the possible end of her medical career. I just need to suck it up.

But still . . . I am upset and worried.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Like mother, like son

I think I've figured out why Campbell's been a mess here at the beach. Like his mama, he is a creature of habit and routine. He's discombobulated by being out of his element. Just like me.

My tolerance level for being away from home is about five days. After that I start to get antsy. I miss my bed and my clean laundry and my routine. I simply was not made to be a world traveller, unless I can some day buy an apartment on that ship that travels the world constantly. To me that is an ideal way to go - you can take your routine and home with you, no packing and unpacking required.

Campbell was a wreck this morning, clinging to me and fussing while I was trying to eat breakfast and read the paper. Bribing him with bacon and donut holes had no effect on his mood. In desperation, I plopped him on the sofa with his milk cup, his water cup, his lovie, his Pigeon, and his blanket and turned on Sesame Street, and suddenly all was right in the world. He just needed his morning routine.

Fortunately, we go home tomorrow and he and I can settle back into our boring little rut routine.

But I can report progress on Campbell and the beach. I took him down for half an hour yesterday afternoon, and he sat on the blanket with me and watched the birds fly around. Later in the day, B convinced Campbell to walk down to find us. Campbell got so involved in watching the big kids dig holes and build sand castles that he forgot to be miserable for about half an hour. It all came to an end when one of the big kids accidentally dumped a shovel full of sand on his foot. But we still view it as step in the right direction. Perhaps today we'll get him to actually dig in the sand. Getting him in the water seems too much to ask.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Midnight Party Crew

The house we're staying in at the beach is actually two separate three-bedroom apartments. We're sharing one apartment with our neighbors, the Rs. We pile all the kids (except Campbell) in one bedroom, and they have a big slumber party the whole time we're here. Turns out there's a lot more going on at night than the parents realize.

The first night we were here, at about midnight, Ella showed up in my room and woke me up to announce that she and L were awake and hungry. I told her that it was the middle of the night and that she and L needed to go back to bed.

Instead, the went into the kitchen and made themselves snacks of cereal and milk.

When I asked Ella about it the next morning, she said that I had told her it was OK to get up and get a snack. I replied that I had told her no such thing, and she said, "Oh. I guess I forgot what you said." She and L claim that they stayed awake until 2:00 am.

R, L's dad, said that he heard odd noises at 3:00 am and went into the kitchen to find Ella and M, L's little sister, sitting at the table drawing pictures. They apparently thought it was morning, just a very dark morning. He shooed them back to bed.

We've warned the kids that anymore middle-of-the-night shenanigans will result in their having to sleep in the same room as their parents. Gasp!

Fortunately, all the kids were so tired last night that they conked out and stayed asleep - all of them except Campbell, that is. But that's a complaint for a different post.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Am I at the beach?

Really, can somebody tell me please if I am? Because I have yet to spend more than 5 minutes actually on the sand. And I haven't put more than my feet in the water.


Because Campbell.hates.the.beach.

Hates it as in starts screaming the second his toes touch the sand and climbs up my body if a ripple of water so much as comes within yard of him. Last night I wrote his reaction off to his being tired and hungry. But the same thing happened this morning, only more so.

He sat in my lap in a chair and sobbed uncontrollably. When I tried to interest him in digging in the sand, he shrieked even louder when a few molecules of sand on the shovel transferred themselves to his hand.

So I gave up and lugged him back up to the house, with him shrieking the whole way. He didn't stop crying until I got him inside and out of his bathing suit.

I let him noodle around for a while before attempting to settle him down for a nap. It took an hour for him to fall asleep, and the nap lasted all of 30 minutes because Lily came up from the beach and burst into the room yelling.

So I'm in a dandy mood, trying not be a little black rain cloud of doom, squelching everyone else's fun.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Off to the beach

We leave tomorrow for S. Padre for our annual pilgrimmage to the beach. I'm still packing and getting the house ready for the house sitter. The girls are so excited that their heads are going to pop. And Mollie-dog is pacing because she knows suitcases mean we're going away without her.

Maybe I'll blog while I'm gone; maybe I won't. We'll see if the mood strikes me.

But I'll enjoy floating in the salt water and feeling sand in my toes. And the way the kids sleep like the dead from the salt air and water.


Inflatable Hell

Yesterday afternoon we spent two hours at a place called Inflatable Wonderland up at Lakeline Mall. We met my longtime friend J, who just moved to Round Rock from Orlando, and her two kids up there. J and I had been trying to get together for two weeks so she could fill me in on our 20-year high school reunion, which I skipped. I had vetoed a couple of J's suggestions because they involved being outside, which I just can't handle right now, so I figured someplace relatively enclosed and air conditioned was my best option.

I will admit, it wasn't what I had expected. I had pictured a big place out in the middle of the mall filled with grimy birthday party quality moonbounces. Instead, it's in an actual store front, and it has huge bounce houses, the likes of which I've never seen. And it was so clean; there were staff constantly moving around sweeping up trash and crumbs. It was a drastic different from a local "playnasium" that shall remain unnamed, where you come out worried about what fungus your kids might have picked up. There was a large hand-washing station with soap and disinfectant gel, and the best part was that kids were actually washing their hands.

The staff really impressed me. They all appeared to be high school or college kids, but instead of being the usual bored, disinterested summer employees, they seemed to be enjoying their jobs. They were playing ball with the kids, and leading dance contests, and teaching kids how to moonwalk.

I had been worried about taking Campbell there, afraid that he'd get flattened by big kids in the bouncy things, but the place had two bounce houses specifically for little ones. And oh was Campbell in heaven. He bounced himself silly the whole time we were there, only taking a break for some ice cream.

The girls had just as much fun, tearing around playing tag and hide-n-seek with J's kids. I saw them only when they zipped by during one of their games or when they stopped to beg for water. When we left they both begged for a return visit.

I was impressed with the security measures taken. When we went in, the staff member at the front desk put wrist bands on all of us with matching numbers. We couldn't leave until we'd shown the staff member at the exit all of our wrist bands - if the numbers hadn't matched, I wouldn't have been allowed to leave with the kids. That was very reassuring to me.

So why was it hell?

Because it was so.freaking.noisy. And chaotic. I don't do well in crowds, and as a result, I avoid them at all costs. So being trapped in a confined space with 100 screaming, running kids was pretty much my worst nightmare. Plus, the Ozone Action Day-induced migraine that had been looming all day exploded while we were there. I managed to hang on for two hours, just because the kids were having so much fun. If Campbell had melted down at any point, we would have been out of there in a flash.

And while the kids were playing, I got the run down on all the good gossip from the reunion. Someday maybe I'll go to one. Or maybe not.

But right now, I'm fending off repeated requests for a return trip to the place. I think if Campbell could talk, he'd be begging to go, too. I've been giving them my standard, "We'll see" answer and hoping that they'll forget all about it during our week at the beach.

And pigs might fly.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Two lessons learned

We went to a local pool this morning with friends. It was the first time we'd been to that particular pool, but it won't be the last. It's the perfect place for me to take my three. The shallow part is shallow enough for Campbell to wade around. The deep end is deep enough to keep Ella entertained, and the middle is the perfect depth for Lily, whose swimming skills increased exponentially during my father's visit. If he had stayed an extra two days, he would have had her doing laps.

But Campbell and Ella learned two important lessons this morning.

Campbell learned that it's a bad idea to pick up honey bees. There was one on the edge of the pool, and Campbell decided to play with it. Two seconds later, he was screaming, holding out his index finger. I pulled the stinger out, and the lifeguards gave me some stuff to help with the pain. But the poor little guy was miserable the rest of the time we were there. His index finger is swollen and hot to the touch, but he won't let me touch it to put anything on it. I'll have to wait until he's asleep and sneak up on him.

Ella learned that it's a bad idea to shinny up a tree while wearing a bikini. She got about 10 feet up an oak tree but then couldn't get back down without ripping the skin on her belly to shreds. I ended up having to rescue her by holding her hands while she jumped down. As it was, her stomach has a few scratches on it.

But unlike Campbell, I'm guessing Ella will learn from her experience. I don't think I can say the same about Campbell and bugs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Positive feedback

When you think about it, us moms spend most of our lives hearing what a bad job we're doing from our clients children. It's the very nature of our job to make our kids unhappy. We spend our days thwarting their plans and goals. Here's a list of things I said yesterday:

  • No, you may not have ice cream now (it was 9am).
  • No, you may not tie toys to the ceiling fan to give them a ride. . . . Because doing so will break the ceiling fan.
  • No, you can't have a sleep over at L's house because we don't want to spread lice to their house.
  • No, M can't spend the night here because we don't want to spread lice to her house.
  • No, you may not sleep with your mattress flipped upside down. . . . Because now the sheets are on the bottom.

Most days, praise is hard to come by, and it's usually only as a result of something like new running shoes or root beer floats for dessert. Those kinds of things will elicit a "You're the best mom ever!" But those comments are forgotten the next time I say no to something.

Yesterday afternoon I had a meeting about a project I've been working on. This particular project involved writing a 20-page continuing education module on childhood diabetes. The meeting was attended by the project manager and her assistant from the marketing/pr firm I work for and diabetes experts from Health and Human Services who have the final editorial review of the document. One of the men there is THE expert on childhood diabetes for the State of Texas.

I was a bit nervous going in. I hadn't received any feedback of any type on the module, and since I'm not a medical professional, I was worried that I'd missed the mark on the paper.

Instead, the doctor offered some revisions based on his expertise. But otherwise, he left the paper alone and said I'd done a good job on it. He even commented that he really liked that I'd added two sections that weren't in the original outline and approved some suggestions I'd made for further additions. Another one of the experts said that my explanations of the different types of diabetes were clear and well written.

I left the meeting walking about three feet off the ground. Not only had the experts liked my work, they'd said they liked it in front of my boss. I immediately called B to tell him the good news.

My buzz didn't last long, though. When I got home, Campbell started melting down about everything. Then the neighbor called to say that her kids have lice, probably from my kids. That's when I cancelled the two sleepovers and had to break the news to the girls, who cried. And then Campbell threw up on the living room floor.

Back to reality. And unfavorable feedback.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The (almost) forgotten child

Some of my favorite childhood persecution stories involve my mother's forgetting to pick me up from swim practice. My father arrived at the pool one night, half an hour late, and said, "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but your mom forgot we had to pick you up." Another time she forgot because my dad had been out of town for a week, and I had been driving myself to and from the pool with his car. She kept waiting for me to walk through the door, and when my dad arrived instead, she remembered that I didn't have a vehicle.

I never understood how a mom could forget to pick up her own child. I mean, doesn't remembering to pick up your children come as part of the whole maternal instinct thing?

And then today I almost forgot to pick up Lily from preschool.

Campbell was napping. I was working. Ella was watching last night's gymnastics. My dad was talking on a conference call. The house was so peaceful.

Then I looked at the clock and it was 12:55; Lily's school ends at 1:00. I yelled and bolted out the door. It was very good my dad was here to keep tabs on Campbell and Ella. Fortunately, traffic was light because UT is on break, and I made it to school in record time. I was only two minutes late for pick-up. Phew. If I had been any later, I would have had to do the walk of shame and go inside to fetch Lily from the office.

After today, though, I think I'll stop telling the childhood persecution stories about being forgotten. Now I know how it can happen. Besides, I have plenty of other stories I can still tell.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Here we go again

Back on June 7 we had our first go-round with lice. I followed all the recommended procedures - I did lice treatments on the girls, washed all the bed linens in hot water, sealed all the stuffed animals in big plastic bags for two weeks, combed the girls' hair out every day for a week, and then re-did the lice treatment.

Six weeks later, we had our second run-in with lice. So I repeated everything I'd already done. Two weeks after that, one of my best friends called to tell me that her daughter had lice, and since Ella had spent the night at their house a few days earlier, I assumed that we'd been the carriers. So I did a panicked lice treatment on the girls and combed out their hair. To my relief, I didn't find a single bug or nit. Still, I continued combing out their hair every morning for a week, just to be sure.

I figured we were finally in the clear.

I figured wrong.

Yesterday morning, Campbell was sitting in my lap and I was absent-mindedly fiddling with his curls looked down in time to see a louse jump out of his hair and land on his shirt. I promptly squished it and grabbed one of our many lice combs. He had lice.

So on our way to the airport to pick up Grandpa, who has the poor luck to be visiting this weekend, we stopped at Target to pick up more lice shampoo. Unfortunately, the only kind they had was the kind I'm not allowed to touch due to my "delicate" condition. So Brandon had to do all the shampooing and rinsing for the three screaming kids. I did the combing out and found lice on all of them.

Son of a bitch.

We've started all the laundry over again. We're putting all blankets and comforters in the dryer for 40 minutes on high. We're sealing all stuff animals in plastic bags. We're combing out the kids' hair every day - and if you think it's easy to use a lice comb on a squiggly toddler, then you've obviously never tried it.

I checked B's head, and he's clear. After spending a sleepless night with an itchy head, I treated my hair with the stuff I'm allowed to use and then did a combing. My head is clear, too.

I just don't know what to do next. We'll do another lice treatment of some sort, either chemicals or cetaphil or vegetable oil (one of the recommendations from friends), before we leave for the beach on Saturday, and hope that a week of soaking in salt water will rid us of this problem once and for all.

If that doesn't work, I'm giving everyone a buzz cut and dousing their heads in kerosene. I know I read about some poor orphan having to have that treatment done in some book somewhere. I'm sure the girls won't mind starting the new school year with no hair.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Going against my nature

Tuesday night I did something completely against my nature: I went on a blind date.

Several months ago, fellow Austin blogger Wendi Aarons and I discovered each other's blogs. Since that time, we've had e-mail discussions about a number of topics. During one exchange, about seeing the movie Wall-e, we shared our mutual love of seeing movies at the Alamo. Wendi suggested that maybe we get together and see a movie sometime. And Tuesday night, that's just what we did.

Even though people don't believe me when I tell them this, I am very shy by nature, and the idea of meeting a someone who is essentially a complete stranger is usually enough to send me into a spiral of panic attacks. I've been known to cancel evenings out with long-time friends because I'm panicked about going out and being social. When I'm not pregnant, I rely on specks of xanax to help me get through a lot of social events. When I say I have panic attacks, I mean I have panic attacks.

By all rights I should have been an absolute wreck on Tuesday. But I wasn't. I told my good friend L that my calmness about Tuesday meant I was either too pregnant and tired to get worked up or at the ripe old age of 38 I'd overcome my shyness and neuroses. She said I was just tired and pregnant.

At any rate, I had a wonderful time with Wendi, who is ravishingly pretty and has super-human intelligence. We saw "Stepbrothers," (which may call into question the whole super-human intelligence thing) and we both liked the movie more than we thought we would.

Funny side story - when I told B what I was up to, he said, "You've never met her before? She could be an axe murderer!" My assurances that our meeting place at the Alamo was pretty safe didn't make him feel any better. When I told Wendi about B's concerns, she suggested I call and give him our "safe" word. The only problem with that plan is that we don't have one. The possibility of my meeting with an axe murderer has never come up before.

The best thing about Tuesday night is that I've made a new friend. We're planning to get together for coffee or lunch once kids are back in school and we have more free time.

Hooray for the internets!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The kindness of knitters

A while back, a blogger named Loopy Lou left a comment on one of my knitting posts. So I visited her blog and checked out all of the amazing crafts she does. She had one post with a picture of an adorable baby hat, so I left a comment asking for the pattern.

She replied with the name of the pattern and an offer to knit one for Baby Bee. The hat arrived last week, and it is just beautiful. The girls are impressed with how small it is; they can't believe that Baby Bee will be small enough to wear it. That's the hat in the picture above, modelled by "Psycho Baby."

I've been so busy knitting socks and baby booties for other people, and knittergran is dealing with an injured hand, so neither of us has knit anything for Baby Bee yet. This is his/her first knitted thing.

So thank you very much Loopy Lou. It was very kind of you to knit this for the baby.

And yes mom, I've sent a real thank you note in the mail.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Socks and shoes

I finished Ella's Dobby socks last night. She didn't want to actually be in a picture, so I had to settle for one of her feet.

Last week I splurged and bought Campbell a pair of Converse All Stars from Nordstrom, and they are just too cute. He's very proud of them, too. When I asked him if he wanted me to take a picture of his shoes, he held out his foot for me.

Then he hopped up on the coffee table next to Ella and started dancing with her.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Rolling over in her grave

If my mother-in-law were dead, she'd be rolling over in her grave at what Ella just said.
Sometimes posts just write themselves.
We are not a religious household, by any stretch of the imagination. Nor do we have any desire to be. But my mother-in-law, who is evangelical southern baptist, likes to sneak religion in with the kids when she can.
One weekend, when the girls spent the night with her, she let them watch Evan Almighty. I was a bit upset at first, but now that I've seen the movie and realized it doesn't proselytize, I'm ok.
Anyway, I was looking at CNN this morning on my laptop and Ella was sitting next to me. She pointed to the following picture and said, "Hey, there's God!"

I nearly fell off the sofa laughing.

I could get into a religion with Morgan Freeman as God. But I'm not sure my mother-in-law would approve.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, God.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A day at camp

One of Lily's classmates, M, is the great-granddaughter of the founder of one of Texas' premiere summer camps. M's dad works at the camp all summer, so each year her whole family moves up to Burnet to live at camp. We've been fortunate enough to have been invited up twice to spend a day there with M and her family.

The first time was for M's birthday party, and we hung out in the Lazy River, a big moat-like pool with a current - kind of like a lazy river. There's also a big water slide into the pool, which the kids love, and a beach area that's perfect for the littler ones like Campbell.

We went up again yesterday, and this time we pretty much had the run of the place. Ella got to try out lots of slides, a water obstacle course, blobs (huge inflated things that you bounce on and then fall in the lake), and diving boards, just to name a few.

Ever since our first visit to the camp in June, Ella has been lobbying for us to send her there next year. Our explanations of how much the camp costs and our budget for such things have had no effect in dampening her enthusiasm. The other day she asked me if she saved all her money for a year would it be enough to go. I hated to have to tell her no.

Yesterday's adventure may have calmed her down a bit. While she loved every minute she was there and hated to leave - even eating in the chow hall was an adventure - she started to grasp a bit more of the reality of camp: like living away from her parents for two weeks, like not being able to leave the camp and go other places for two weeks, like having to abide by the camp schedule for two weeks.

She and I were standing at the top of the water slide waiting our turn when she asked about the camp schedule. "So, you have to go where they want you to go? What if it's your time to ride horses but you want to stay in your cabin and read?" When I told her that it didn't matter if she wanted to read, she had to go to horseback riding, she thought for a moment before saying, "But where's the fun in that?" I just shrugged and told her it's the way camp works.

But silently, I agreed with her. I don't think I'd do well with all of the organized "fun." There are parts of summer camp I'd absolutely love - horseback riding, swimming in the pools, jumping on the blobs, afternoon rest time. But there are parts I'd absolutely hate - forced cheer at nightly campfires, arts and crafts (save me from any activity involving popsicle sticks and lanyards), volley ball, swimming in the lake (I don't like slimy things). And I can guarantee I wouldn't like being moved from one activity to another on a schedule.

Still, I think Ella would totally love camp. We just need to find one we can afford. In the meantime, we'll keep hoping for invites up to this camp for the day, where we can do what we want on our own schedule - no popsicle sticks in sight.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Austin Runners Unite!

One of the many things I love about Austin is its strong running community. There are running groups and training programs available for every level of runner - from beginner through elite. Many weekends during the spring and fall there are multiple races from which to choose. Even in the heat of the summer there are pick-up track meets and trail races going on. If you can't find a race or a group that suits your needs, you're just not looking hard enough.

The Cap10K draws about 17,000 runners each spring, and the Race for the Cure has almost 22,000 participants each year. A town that can put on races that big obviously has a good running community.

However, all this enthusiasm for the sport is causing some problems, especially in the downtown area where many of the races are staged. A very vocal group of residents and churches has been complaining about the races blocking traffic and shutting down streets early on Sunday mornings. Unfortunately, these groups are the only ones getting any media play, for whatever reason.

The city has now formed a task force charged with figuring out how to have races and residents peacefully co-exist. One solution that's already been put into play is setting up several standard race routes that race organizers are being "encouraged" to use. There is a financial incentive for the organizers to use these routes. When these routes were laid out, the task force kept the residents and churches of the areas in mind and tried to plan routes that would block traffic as little as possible.

This still isn't enough for some.

The next task force meeting is next week, and the running community is getting itself organized. According to one member of the task force, who is a long-time race organizer, the previous meetings haven't been attended by anyone from the running community. As a result, the task force hasn't been hearing the other side of the story.

I won't be able to attend the meeting, but I will be sending an e-mail to the members laying out my support for the running community in Austin. I've run in these races, volunteered at them, and gone out to cheer. Plus, I live on the marathon route; I'm directly affected by a race once a year. And I couldn't be happier.

For two years, the marathon route has come right down my street, which in a running-geek way is a dream come true for me. When I ran my first marathon, I loved running down Shoal Creek Blvd. and seeing all the residents hanging out on their front lawns to cheer. I envied their ability to just stroll outside and be part of the action instead of having to drive somewhere and find parking. So when the marathon course changed to its new route, I did backflips.

On race day for the past two years, I've thrown our house open to everyone we know, with coffee and donuts and bagels and clean bathrooms. We make signs and have flags and noise makers. The kids decorate the street with chalk and have a grand time cheering for all the runners.

A few weeks before this year's marathon, someone posted a complaint on our neighborhood listserv about the half marathon, which runs along the edge of our neighborhood. The poster complained about the inconvenience of not being able to get to the coffee shop and having to walk instead of drive and wondered why there hadn't been any prior notice of road closures.

I don't usually post things on the listserv because it often disintegrates into a flame war, and I don't have the time or energy to get involved in such things, but this time I did. In my response I pointed out that there had been signs all along the race route for three weeks leading up to the race warning that there would be road closures and traffic delays. I also pointed out that the half marathon and marathon are becoming premiere races in the US, drawing runners from all over the country and the world, and that they are excellent opportunities for us to show off Austin and our neighborhood. Then I asked everyone in the hood to come out and cheer on marathon day. After I hit send, I sat back and waited for the flames. Instead, I was amazed at how many people posted replies supporting what I had said. Others e-mailed me off list thanking me for my comments. It made me feel good to know I wasn't the only one in the neighborhood who loved having the race route come through.

So we need to rally that support to save races in Austin. The mayor has initiated a campaign to make Austin the fittest city in Texas. Restricting races seems to be counter to that goal. We have a vibrant, active running community, and we need to keep it that way by working with the city and the neighborhoods and churches. Banning or limiting races isn't the way to go.

If you live in Austin and are a part of the running scene, even if you only run once a year in the Cap10K, submit your comments to The task force needs to hear the other side of the story!