Thursday, June 30, 2011

Because I have to worry about something

Next Wednesday I am flying with the four kids to Atlanta for a two-week visit – without B. His work schedule is insane, and he can’t get away. He may fly up for a weekend if possible, but it will be just me and four kids each way.

I’m not worried about the big girls – they are traveling pros. And Campbell will be so thrilled to be on a plane that he’ll be fine. Elizabeth, on the other hand, is the wild card. Last summer she screamed during the entire flight home – not crying, top-of-her-lungs screaming. This year I’m packing every treat I can think of to keep her happy. Sure she’ll be hopped up on sugar by the time we get to my parents’ house, but at least I won’t be in danger of being stoned to death by irate passengers.


The one thing I’m really worried about is our seats. Currently, the five of us are assigned seats in five different rows. The idea of not being able to sit with at least Campbell and Elizabeth is giving me panic attacks (which isn’t actually that hard to do these days).

I called Delta earlier this week and spoke with a woman who, based on her accent, was in India. I explained the situation, and she assured me that “Delta places family first” and that they’d take care of the situation at the airport. I told her that if they didn’t, when I got on the plane I’d hand the screaming toddler to the nicely dressed businessman sitting next to her and wish him luck. The lady didn’t laugh. Maybe my humor didn’t translate to her customer-service level of English.

The lady repeated several times that “Delta places family first” and that we’d be sitting together on the plane.

I posted about it on Facebook and had lots of people reassure me that they’d had the same thing happen and the airlines took care of it.

But because I am a world-class worrier, especially now that I’m not on my anti-anxiety meds (more on that another day), I’m still worried about this. I’m worried that we’ll get to the airport and all the seats on the plane will already be assigned and they won’t be able to move at least Campbell and Elizabeth next to me. I’m worried that Delta’s solution will be to tell me to ask other passengers to switch and none of them will. I’m worried that our only options will be to sit apart or take a different flight, with lots of extra fees attached.

It’s a good thing my parents will be meeting us at baggage claim in Atlanta. I think I may be too drunk and frazzled to manage without their help.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Two new knitters

Last week, just when the Bicker Twins were getting on my very last nerve, I saw a post on FaceBook that the knitting store near our house still had slots in Wednesday afternoon’s class for kids. The girls gave me an enthusiastic thumb’s up about going, so I called and signed them up.

On Wednesday, I happily delivered them to the store, leaving the girls with warnings of dire consequences if they bickered with each other during the class.

Now, both girls can knit; Knittergran taught them. But they’ve never made anything beyond lumpy bits of stuff – their attention span hasn’t been good enough for them to actually finish anything. Given this, I was interested to see how the class would go.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The instructor taught them both the proper way to hold the yarn (not like I hold it) and how to purl. Then she got them started on a simple project – fingerless gloves. The pattern was dead simple – four rows of garter, stockinette for a few inches, four more rows of garter, then cast off and stitch up the seam, leaving a hole for the thumb.

When we got home from class, both girls immediately sat down and began knitting. Ella finished her first glove after dinner and immediately cast on a second. I went to bed early, and when I did, both girls were still on the sofa knitting away.

Each has now completed a pair of gloves and has started on another pair. Lily will go back to knitting class this Wednesday while Ella is at newspaper camp. But it will be good for Lily to spend some time away from her bossy big sister.


Lily with her first finished glove. It fit perfectly.


Campbell wearing the “Super Hero gloves” Ella made for him. Notice the contrast stitching around the edges.

I am thrilled that the girls seem to love knitting. B’s not so sure about it, though. He’s worried about ending up buried under yarn and knitting bags.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dancing Lily

Just as Ella seems to have been born to climb, Lily was born to dance. From the time she could walk she has twirled her way through life.

When she was three, I enrolled her in Creative Movement with the divine Ms. Joan at Ballet Austin, and Lily found her home.



She moved up through the Creative Movement classes and eventually donned the blue leotard of Pre-Ballet.



(notice the very serious ballet face)

Last month, Lily graduated from Pre-Ballet and left the blue leotards behind.


She’s now officially in Ballet 1, and she goes to class twice a week. She also gets to wear a purple leotard and HAS to have her hair in a bun.


This year she also gets to audition to be a mouse or an angel in Ballet Austin’s annual production of “The Nutcracker.”

I have had so much fun watching Lily change from the roly-poly little girl pretending to be a sea horse during Creative Movement into a ballerina with perfect posture practicing at the barre.

Maybe some day she’ll be prima ballerina of a major company.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Total Confusion

I have two neighbors, who are both all kinds of awesome, and who both have the same name. For the sake of maintaining their privacy, I’ll call them both Lucy: Lucy F and Lucy S.  And I’ll call Lucy F’s husband Fred.

This morning I sent Lucy F a text asking to borrow a sippy cup of milk, which kicked off the following text exchange.

Me: Can I borrow a sippy cup of milk?

Lucy F: I’m in Beijing right now. What time should I expect you? Can you call Lucy to ask her?

Me: WHAT? When did you go to Beijing? Where are the boys?

Lucy F: I left last Friday. The boys are home but have been gone a lot, I think. Off to Shanghai tomorrow. Hong Kong on Saturday and back on Wednesday. This summer is nuts.

Me: So does that mean you’re not home for the splash party on Friday? Who is with the boys?

Lucy F: I won’t be there. Lucy is with the boys (unless I am missing something?).

Me: Lucy S?

Lucy F: This is Fred, Heather. Did you think you were texting Lucy F?

Me: Yes. D’oh.

Fred: OK. I’m looking back and the chain and am laughing my butt off. Too funny. You thought I was asking you to call Lucy S. You and both Lucys will have a good laugh over this.


I was simultaneously horribly embarrassed and cracking up. I’m sure Fred was wondering why the heck I was asking him for milk instead of his wife and thinking I was pretty dim. Both Lucys and I did indeed have a good laugh.

Modern communication isn’t so wonderful sometimes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Super Finals

The reason Ella and I went to Boulder was a climbing competition – divisionals, specifically. The best climbers from Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and California were there. And there were a lot of really good climbers in Ella’s group. There’s a team based in Boulder that seems to breed these tiny little girls who can climb like spider monkeys. I dubbed them the Sprites and resisted the temptation to kick them in the shins, mostly because they were so damn cute and friendly.

There were 21 girls in Ella’s division, and they all climbed two routes on Saturday. Their scores were based on how high they got on each route. In theory, the top ten girls were supposed to go on to finals on Sunday. But . . . 13 girls finished both of Saturday’s routes, which meant they all got the same score and all tied for first.

Sunday morning the 13 girls climbed again. The route was pretty tough. It’s the orange one in the picture. Ella said it seemed like the route setters made things too easy on Saturday so they went the other direction on Sunday and made the route too hard.


Not one of the 13 girls finished it, but two girls clearly placed first and second. Then two girls tied for third, and four girls, including Ella, tied for 5th. Only the top six can get invites to nationals in July, which meant that all the girls who were tied for position had to compete in Super Finals.

The six girls got whisked off to a holding room while the route setters tweaked a route that was already on the wall.

The two girls who were tied for third clearly separated themselves, which left the four girls tied for fifth. Ella and another girl, Chloe, climbed the highest out of their group and tied again. We were all hoping the officials would just leave them tied for fifth and not make them climb again.

But no, Ella and Chloe got whisked away again to wait for another route to be set up. When the girls came out to climb, they had become fast friends and were laughing and giggling about how they kept tying with each other.

Chloe went first and finished the climb. Ella went second and came so, so close to tying again. She was briefly disappointed, but she recovered quickly and bounced off with Chloe to play and celebrate that they were both going to Nationals.

One of the things I love about climbing competitions is that everyone cheers for good climbs, no matter what team the climber is on. They all recognize and applaud tough climbs, and you can hear the groans in the background when Ella finally falls off the wall.

In the end, Ella placed 6th in sport climbing and 3rd in speed climbing, which means she received an invite to Nationals in both events. We’re heading to Atlanta in a few weeks for the competition. Ella’s mostly excited that she’ll get to see her new buddy Chloe while she’s there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I’m home

Just a quick post to let everyone know Ella and I survived our trip to Colorado. I have lots to write about, but I’m going to have to save it for another day because I have a work deadline this afternoon, mountains of laundry, and a kitchen floor that my feet keep sticking to.

Here are some highlights:

  • Ella climbed really strong at a tough competition. There were a ton of very good climbers in her division, and she finally placed 6th in sport climbing after having to do two tie-breaker “super finals.” She also placed 3rd in speed climbing, so she has an invite to nationals in Atlanta in both events.
  • The weather in Colorado was perfect the entire time. It rained the first day, but even that felt good after months of drought here.
  • We drove the Trail Ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park and got to play in the snow. Ella declared it a most excellent day.
  • On Sunday we drove over the Rockies to Rifle, which is on the western range. The drive was spectacular, if a bit long.
  • Ella got to climb in the wild with six of the big kids from her team and the coach. The group is staying through the week, but Ella and I had to come home.
  • Lily managed to get really, really sick while I was gone. There’s nothing like being thousands of miles from home and getting a call that your child is on her way to the ER. She’s on the mend now, and the doctors’ best guess is that she has mono, of all things.

Finally – I’ve been wanting someone to take a picture of me that I actually liked for a while now. I figured I’d have to bribe one of my photographer friends to do it. Instead, Ella managed to get a picture I love while goofing around with my camera at Boulder Falls.


I know my hair’s a wreck and I’m not wearing any make up and my nose is red from the cold, but I like the picture because I just look happy, which I was.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I may never come back

First things first – I have a winner for my sock giveaway. I am so glad that I made this a random drawing because I would never have been able to pick a winner on my own. You are all so wonderful that I want to knit socks for all of you, but that would take me years. This was so much fun that I’ll do another knitting giveaway of something later this summer – maybe a hat or scarf for the coming winter.

To make sure things were fair, I went old school. First I wrote everyone’s names on pieces of paper and put them in my favorite knitting bag.


Then I recruited one of my minions – a very perplexed Campbell – to draw a piece of paper.



And the winner is . . . 



Betsy is a friend in real life. Her son is one of the “big boys” on the climbing team, and she is an amazing person. I want to be like her when I grow up. But the best part is that I’ll be seeing Betsy this weekend in Boulder and can give her the socks in person – no trip to the post office needed.

And speaking of Boulder . . .

Ella and I leave tomorrow at 6:05 am for Colorado. She has another climbing comp there – her third. B took the girls on their trip back in February, so it’s my turn to go. It should be a fantastic trip. We’ll have all day tomorrow and Friday to play before Ella climbs on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday afternoon, the coach is taking some of the big kids over to a town called Rifle to climb in the wild for a week. Ella’s not big enough to stay without me, and I can’t be away for a whole week, so we’re going to drive over with the team on Sunday, and she’ll get to climb most of the day on Monday before we head back to Denver for our 8:00 pm flight home.

Some of our free-day plans include breakfast at Lucile’s, which has beignets and eggs benedict to die for, a trip up to Estes Park to take the tramway up the mountain to feed chipmunks (Ella’s very special request), a trip into Rocky Mountain National Park, and wandering Pearl Street.

Mostly, though, I’m looking forward to the cool air. Here’s Austin’s forecast for the week


and here’s Boulder’s.


This is pretty much my dream weather, even if it ends up raining while we’re there. It’s been so long since I’ve seen rain that the change will be nice. As a bonus, I’ll get to wear my NYC Marathon jacket again. And jeans. And hand-knit socks.

Yep. I may not come home.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Bedtime conversations

I don’t go in for big bedtime routines. I have too many kids, and I am too tired to do a whole song and dance each night. The kids brush their teeth and go potty, and the big kids read the littles stories. And then they all get in bed. End of discussion. Even that minimalist routine can take an hour when the kids are in particularly contrary moods. But once they are in bed, they are to STAY IN BED and BE QUIET. Nothing raises my blood pressure faster than having to endure repeated requests from the bedroom or having kids popping out of bed for whatever reason.

Some nights, Campbell climbs into bed and passes out cold within minutes. Other nights, he bounces around in his bed, calling out every few minutes for attention. Friday was one of those nights.

I tucked him like a caterpillar, gave him a kiss and a hug and left the room. Within minutes, he was yelling that he needed help. I went in to find him halfway out of the bed – legs on the bed, hands and head on the floor. “I fell out and got stuck,” he said. I unstuck him and left the room.

Ten minutes later he said, “Mom, if you don’t come in here, I’m going to have a nightmare!” I told him he’d be fine but didn’t go in. After a mere two minutes of silence, I heard “OK! I just had a nightmare!” Stifling my laughter I reminded him that he has to actually go to sleep to have a nightmare.

He went mostly quiet for a while, and during that time I heard muffled thuds as he climbed in and out of bed and played with toys. I decided to ignore the playtime as long as he was being quiet.

After about 30 minutes of playing, Campbell noticed that Lily wasn’t in her bed – she was asleep on the sofa thanks to a bout of strep throat – and he didn’t like it. He called out, “Mom! I’m alone, I’m scared, and I’m thirsty.”

That’s when I lost it and started laughing. But I didn’t cave and let him out of bed. He fell asleep a few minutes later, I guess after realizing that further requests for company were pointless.

Don’t forget to enter to win a pair of hand-knit socks. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Thank you–and a giveaway

First off, thank you to everyone who sent me messages of support and encouragement last week. I was blown away by the e-mails and comments and messages I received. They all helped me a great deal.

I saw a psychiatric nurse practitioner last week, and he’s taken me off my anti-anxiety medication and has started me on good old Prozac, which has helped a great deal. I’m able to get out of bed in the morning and not count the hours until I can climb back in again. And I actually left the house twice in the past week for social events, another good sign.

In the meantime, I’m taking things one day at a time and focusing on small goals. And I’m counting the hours until Ella and I leave next week for five days in Colorado. Time in the cool mountain air, away from the 100 degree temps we’ve been having here, will do me a world of good.

And now, for a giveaway.

pink socks2

I am going to give away this pair of hand-knit socks to one lucky reader. I wear a size 9.5/10, and the socks are snug on me, which means you shouldn’t enter if you wear a size 11. Or if you do have large feet, you can enter and win them for a friend or family member and claim you knit them yourself. Whatever works.

If you’ve never worn hand-knit socks, you’re missing out. Except for when I go running, I hate wearing socks. It has to be below freezing to get me to wear socks, but I make an exception for hand-knit ones. I spend most of the winter with fluffy bits of love on my feet.

All you have to do to win is leave a comment on this post by next Tuesday. That’s it. You don’t have to tweet about it or like me on Facebook or blog about it with a link back. Just leave a comment. It doesn’t even have to be witty.

Next Wednesday, I’ll recruit one of my minions to pull a name out of a hat and notify the winner.