Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Happenings

Woah, Things have been a little text heavy around here for the last couple of days.  And there is an important post to be written about pants (which will seem totally crazy unless you are mormon--and even then it might seem totally crazy) but let's save those deep thoughts for another day. 

Fair warning that there are going to be lots of pictures of my kids in the next little minute and you're going to be tempted to think that I am a better mom than I am.  

Do you ever read mommy blogs and think, "who is this woman?"  I do.  In blogs art projects seemore amazing than they are and every mother is perfectly patient and spends 3-4 hours a day spending individual time with her kids--playing meaningfully.  Just so that you know who you are dealing with, I do not.  These pictures are all of fun things we've done recently but really, most days the hubbs comes home to a house that looks like a tornado hit and with a look of panic in my eyes I hand him the baby.  Last night we were having friends to dinner and 30 minutes before they were to arrive Claire woke up Noah and he cried for the next 30 min.  The hubbs arrived 10 minutes before they did and I handed him the baby and said, "give him a bath." When he suggested that maybe he should straighten up I said, "No. What I need you to do is bath the baby."  

my tone wasn't particularly friendly.

Just so we're perfectly clear.

Noah's favorite game is one where we give one of his cheeks several kisses in a row.  He sequeels with delight and turns toward you.  You then switch over and kiss the other cheek.  This game is fraught with danger as it is often very slobbery and sometimes you get spit-up on.  Totally worth it.

Totally secure in his masculinity.  We borrowed a couple of baby jump suites from a dear friend who has a little girl.  This is the least girly of the two.
Last week we make cookies with friends.  Totally unsanitary and totally delicious.  At one point Claire was eating sprinkles out of a bowl with her tongue.

Oh yes we did this.  The REAL Santa Claus at THE Macy's. 

This is Claire crying while she sits next to the man himself. 30 min of waiting in line, 3 minutes  with the big man and tears.  To hear her tell the story is hilarious because she'll be the first to admit that she does not like Santa and he makes her cry.

There are actually 3 family members in this picture.  I don't know if you can see that Claire has baby Dora tucked under her arm.  She takes her everywhere.

At the Rockafeller Center.  Dora is riding in her baby carrier

Walking in the city with Claire is a total joy.  She dances and sings the WHOLE time.

Riding the train with these two isn't too bad either

And last but not least is the craziest house I have ever seen.  It's like Liberace owns a house in the Bronx.  I can't even explain it to you and pictures don't do it justice but there are tons of animatronic doll, really loud music and the house is bright pink.  His neighbors must hate them

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Welcome to Yonkers

Monday as I was stepping in the shower (right around 2 in the afternoon) I looked out the little window in the shower (we can talk about how odd it is that every shower in this house has a small window another time) and in that section of glass underneath the blind I glanced and saw two kids at a house down the  hill from ours.  After a few minutes of watching them it dawned on me that they were stealing a bike from the neighbor's yard.  This neighbor isn't really a neighbor.  I have a good view of their house but they actually live on another block.  I thought that maybe it was just one of the kids who lives there (like most houses around here it's a multi-family home) but after just a minute or two of watching I realized that was probably not the case.

I froze.  I was in the shower and I didn't know what to do.

Earlier this month a man was pushed in front of a subway train by a deranged homeless man.  There were people on the platform who did nothing to help him.  He was killed.  A photographer took a picture of it happening and sold it to the Times.  It makes me sick.  I am still furious that no one tried to help him. On Monday--looking out the window of my shower I had a little more compassion for them.  I didn't know what was happening and I didn't know how to help.

Then I realized that I want to live in a neighborhood where people help one another.  Where, if someone sees another person stealing your bike (or even just behaving suspiciously) they call the police.  So I did that.  I stepped out of the shower and called the police (I have never called the police in my life).

Looking back at the experience I am sorry I didn't do more.  Shower or not, sleeping babies or not, I should have opened the window and started yelling and telling them I was calling the police.  And now I know better.  I am determined that even if I don't know how to act I'm going to do something.  I will not be part of a world where people who are pushed in front of trains are not helped.

Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little
--Edmond Burke 

Monday, December 17, 2012

So Sad

I have been so sad.  And so teary.

I read that quote by morgan Freeman that's been floating around facebook about how one of the problems with our national response to tragedies like this is that we talk and talk and talk about the perpetrators which in a sense makes them more "famous" than that victims.  I resolved to learn the names of the people and children who lost their lives and do my best to forget the name of the man who did it.

You should read this.  It's a brief bio of each of them.  It's not easy but it's worth it. You will cry when you see their gap-tooth grins.

And, if you are looking, here are ways to help and support the families.

You can also write a letter of support and love and prayer to the school and parents.

Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Drive
Newton, CT 06482

Monday, December 10, 2012

Operating Instructions

As soon as Noah wakes up we're headed to the post office to post presents to our family that lives abroad.  And later this week we're going to post similar packages to our family in Utah too.  This year everybody is getting the same present (adults and children alike) and as I'm sure that your packages will be arriving without any kind of card, you're going to need instructions.  Since this has become a hugely popular toy at our house I thought I would post it here because, let's face it, you're probably going to want to make this too. Take them to your family Christmas party and I assure you will be reach most beloved Aunt/Uncle status.  I took them to Thanksgiving and suddenly I have a million friends who are under the age of 6.

Dear Family,
This is what will be arriving in your mailboxes
Those of you who are not getting a baggie in the mailbox but are making your own will need the following supplies.  A glue gun, 7-8 popsicle sticks, a milk jug lid (or any other kind of lid), 4 rubber bands and as many pom poms as you think are necessary.

Start out by making a stack of 5-7 popsicle sticks and securely rubber-banding the ends--like so. (sorry about that made up verb)

Place two popsicle sticks on either side of your stack.

And rubber band them around the stack.  You need to cross in front of the sticks both directions (so there is a little x on the front of the sticks to keep it secure)

This is what it looked like after 1 rubber band.  Use another and do the same thing.  The more of the bands that you put on the point of your launcher the farther your launcher will launch things.  This is a trade-off though because it also makes in harder to launch.  This one here that ended up with 6 or 7 rounds around the tip was easy enough for Claire to launch and still sent them quite a ways.   

Here is what it looks like after two rubber bands.  Warning: In the picture the center stack is turned the wrong way.  It should be turned so that the top of the sticks are parallel to the floor.  I didn't notice that it got turned around so all of the pictures from this point out show it the wrong way.  Sorry.  It will still work if you leave it this way your trajectory is just better if you have a higher cross beam.

Now you glue-gun on whatever kind of cap you have making sure that you leave enough space on the end of the stick for your finger to press down. (those of you getting a bag will not need to glue gun on your cap as I did it for you)

Add a pom pom and...


Claire's new passion is photography so after I took a picture of her she insisted on taking one of me.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Christmas Story

This week we had a family lesson about Christmas and I had a little stroke of brilliance.

A couple of popsicle sticks, 2 lbs of rice and some amateur drawings that took 10 min.

Brilliant.  She knows everyone's name (though explaining Joseph is kind of a trick.  Not Jesus' dad but also, in a way, Jesus' dad--we just stuck with dad for this year and next year we'll tackle the whole Son of God issue).  We played with them lots of times but now the playing had degraded to this.

I'm still calling it a success.  10 min of cleaning in exchange for 40 min of quiet play by herself.  Totally worth it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A new way of doing things

I was a freshman in college when my RA was in the bathroom while I was washing my face.  She saw what I was doing (filling the sink with water) and she said, "so that's how you do it."  It sounds crazy but until that moment I don't know that I had considered that there were other ways to wash a face (some other day we can talk about my freshman RA Bridget--though I will probably need to work through it with a counselor first.  Worst. RA. Ever.  She dropped out of school the next year and I heard that she became a crack whore.  I'm not using that term in any kind of metaphorical way.  From what I understand she literally was selling herself to cover the cost of her drug addiction.)

I thought of that conversation two weeks ago when I was washing my face.  For years I have been splashing my face with water, putting on soap and then splashing the soap away when I'm done washing.  I normally don't wait for the water to warm up because I feel like such a water waster.  There is something about growing up in the desert that stamps you forever in the way you use water.  It's all I can do to not harass the hubbs when he lets it run in the morning to get warm so he can shave.  I feel like the tap is on forever and it takes control to not run over to the tap and turn it off because he is wasting so much water (I feel like people who didn't grow up in the desert don't have this compulsion.  The hubbs (who grew up in Oregon) used to leave the water running while he brushed his teeth.  When I asked if he had just skipped every elementary school assembly about saving water he looked at me like I was a crazy person.)

With the colder New York temperatures the whole splashing my face with water wasn't working for me and I found myself just not washing my face at night (which was leading to some serious breakout problems).  So I changed. I picked up a wash cloth, got it wet, put the soap on an rubbed my face.  When I was done I rinsed the cloth and wiped my face again.  Easy, no drip, no cold.  maybe not as effective as the way I used to do things but so much more likely to happen which, in a round about kind of way, makes it actually more effective.

That's it.  A mundane story acting for a somewhat mundane metaphor -we can change.  There are different ways of doing even the simplest tasks and we have to find what works for us.

And moisturize. Which has nothing to do with this post but is always good to remember.

Monday, December 3, 2012


my new running regime is going great.

As long as you and Ryan can agree on this.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Club: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Remember months ago (before Noah was born) when I decided to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks?  That's probably because it was sooooo many months ago.  Oh well.  I did read it.  I read it like that next week.  I was just a little uninspired.  Don't get me wrong, it was a great book but I expected to be angry at the way a woman was taken advantage of and I expected some solutions as to how we could help but really I was just reminded that so many people in this country live a life that is like living in a developing country--they have no health care, they are uneducated and their lives seem hopeless.  I wasn't outraged, I was disheartened.  I am thankful for Henrietta Lacks and I wish that her family had a better life.

Since then I've been reading mystery novels and I just reread all of the Harry Potter books.  Reading books that entertain and require little brain power has helped corral the emotional nightmare of not being able to nurse a second baby (feeding takes up a lot of time during the day and if you have a book open that requires your attention but not your brain power you can push aside all other feelings of guilt).  With Claire I assuaged my guilt by telling myself that it would come easier the second time and that I would be able to nurse this baby with only occasional bottles. Wrong. This time around was even worse.  my doctor told me that it could have to do with some underlying medical conditions I have (when did I become old enough to have underlying medical conditions?) and then Noah's doctor told me not to worry about it, that he would be fine and that I was doing the best I could (easier said than done and even writing this I could break into tears.)  So we're weaning.  And I'm hoping that I can be cool with it and maybe tackling a really hard and hearty book will help.

This week on Fresh Air I heard Hilary mantel talking to Terry Gross about her new book Bring Up the Bodies which just won the Booker Prize (and I just have to say that Terry is not my favorite NPR personality.  Asking a guest if she would rather be beheaded with the ax or the guillotine is pretty much a recipe for air time awkward silence) and I was fascinated.  Historical fiction about Henry and Ann Boleyn--seems right up my alley.  I downloaded it last night and I can tell it's going to be a slow read.  Remember moby Dick?  Yeah, that kind of slow but I feel like we're going to love it.  So read on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cleaning time

Have you seen this quote on pinterest?

Every time I say it to myself I add, "But if you feel like you're going to rip your eyes out if you have to calmly answer your toddler one more time as she follows you around asking what you're doing over and over again just turn on the vaccuum.  If you don't hear it in the first place you can hardly listen earnestly"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Embrace it

Claire and I are sitting on the couch together.  I haven't been on the computer in days (unless you count watching some netflix with the hubbs a couple of days ago and watching The Mindy project while I folded laundry before bed last night.  Are you watching the Mindy project?  You should. Totally hilarious).  I haven't been on the computer because my kids can't seem to ever nap at the same time.  And yesterday they were tag-team crying.  Claire cried all morning and Noah cried all afternoon.  So now Claire is watching youtube videos while I sit and actually write something.

I've tried to not let her watch TV or videos very often.  I think that's going to have to change. It's cold and snowy here today and if either of us are going to keep our sanity we may just have to embrace youtube videos.  We've already taken to going to McDonalds about once a week to get an ice cream and play on the indoor playground.  99 cents (the price of a cone) for unlimited playtime and kids who all excitedly talk to us in other languages (including the darling-est, chubbiest, Hispanic girl who ran up to Claire, said hello and took a big bite of her ice cream.  Claire looked at me and said, "maybe we should come back when our friend goes home").  Worth every penny.

My Uncle Mike died yesterday.  He has been battling cancer for a couple of years.  He moved into my parent's house about 6 months ago and then two weeks ago he moved to a home because he needed more care than my parent's could provide.

In junior high and high school I used to describe Uncle Mike as my relative who was stuck in the 70's.  He wore terrible, polyester clothing and thick horn rimmed glasses (that would be highly coveted by any hipster today).  I am embarrassed to say that my descriptions weren't very kind.  I didn't realize that Uncle Mike wasn't making a decision to be the way he was.  I didn't realize that his complete awkwardness and the way he would spend whole family parties not making eye contact were most likely symptoms of undiagnosed developmental disorder like autism.  Because Uncle Mike lived with what we think was an untreated developmental disorder he didn't really have meaningful relationships and aside from his siblings, he didn't have anyone to be with him at the end.  He didn't have anyone to talk to and mourn with.  He never married, never had kids, to my knowledge never had any kind of meaningful relationship with any member of the opposite sex.  His family tried to take care of him.  One family had him to Sunday dinner for years, one family come stay every summer for a week but Uncle mike was hard to love.

One of the things I have been grateful for in this season of Thanksgiving is that I do have meaningful relationships with others because I have seen what the end is like when you do not.  I am grateful for friends, family, and parents who taught me to love.  Yesterday I went to the bathroom leaving the kids snuggled on my bed.  When I came back this is what I found.

It is one of the most touching and moving parts of parenting for me to see my children show love in the way my parents showed me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Watch This Right Now

It feels like the only thing I ever do here is talk about things. You know that Elanor Roosevelt quote,

"Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people."

Can we add that small minds also discuss things?  I'm a little small minded these days but I swear it's because I've found some awesome stuff lately.  Like this.

Which Claire will be receiving as soon as it is available.

And in other "thing" news I just found out what I'm giving my whole  family for Christmas.  The Sweater Boys Calendar of last year was not quite the hit I expected.  I'm still going to order this years because seriously.....

Really.  Seriously?  How could this not be the best present you have ever received?

Greatest. Calendar. Ever. And I will be keeping it for myself.

my family will all be getting the best child-entertainment system Pinterest has given me to date.  I'll post a tutorial as soon as I send out a load of them to our long distance friends because I'm pretty sure we are going to need testimonials and pictures to convince you all that you should give them to your whole family too.  I will just tell you that there are only 4 ingredients.

1. Popsicle sticks
2. Rubber Bands
3. The tops of milk jugs
4. Pom Poms

I myself was entertained for probably 45 minutes this afternoon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Carry on, Warrior

This week I spoke in my church.  The person who coordinates the meetings asked me to speak on a great talk by the Prophet of our church called "Finding Joy in the Journey." It's good.  In it he says, "If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will--to your surprise--miss them profoundly."

And then, per my record with trying to speak on what they ask me to speak on, I changed the topic entirely and instead of talking about finding joy in the journey I talked about this incredible article on parenting from the Huffington Post (which you should read).  It's an article written by a woman who is responding to all of the older women who come up to her when she is out and about with her 3 young children and tell her to carpe diem because this time goes so quickly and your children will be gone before you know it.

She says,

I think parenting young children (and old ones, I've heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard there's magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it's hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers -- "ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU'LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN'T!" TRUST US!! IT'LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!" -- those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
She has a great way of measuring success (which you should read--it's the end of the article and it will make you cry) but the thing I've been thinking about it just a little humorous line where she decides what she is going to say when she is an older woman talking to young mothers.  Instead of telling women to enjoy every minute of it, she is going to say, ""It's helluva hard, isn't it? You're a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She's my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours till bedtime." And hopefully, every once in a while, I'll add -- "Let me pick up that grocery bill for ya, sister. Go put those kids in the van and pull on up -- I'll have them bring your groceries out.""
And that, my friends, is what I want to say, whether it's parenting, a job, an athletic endeavor, a relationship, school or any other worth-while endeavor you are pursuing
It's helluva hard, isn't it? 
Carry On.

I wanted to love these

I really wanted to love the Little Green Pouch (and I still kind of do because they have made yogurt for breakfast a total dream) but as I've had them less than 2 weeks and half of them have already had the closure break I'm gonna say it's a no go--because they're not cheap.

If they clocked in at say $1 a piece I'd still be ordering them but at $4.50 a pouch they are just not worth it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I did it

This week I went back to the gym.  It's taken a while because there aren't any gyms in my new town where they watch kids.  Luckily I have a new friend who also likes to work out and she and I swap babysitting in the morning so we can both get a short workout.

The trouble with my new gym, Blink, (don't worry 24 Hour Fitness, I'll be back when Noah is 6 months old and he can come with me though the fact that your Bronx location {which is really close to my house} doesn't have a parking lot is going to throw a serious wrench in the works) is that it's completely no frills (which is why they only charge $15 a month).  You walk in and in half of the gym there are rows and rows and rows of cardio machines.  On the other side there are some free weights and strength machines.  That's it.  No mats, no yoga, no classes just machines and weights.

I've been running.  3 years ago I ran the Boulder Bolder 10 K and since then I haven't run more than a mile at a single time.

So....who has ideas about a training schedule or plan?  Maren? Kate?  Other ladies who have had babies and then started running and loved it?

(And just for the record I'm counting it as a major success that I did not wet my pants the first time I turned the treadmill up to a 10 min mile)

This is how ripped my legs are going to be someday

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A little late night inspiration

It's nearly 10 pm and the dishes aren't done and we have no clean bottles so I can't just leave them until tomorrow.  I walked into the office collecting bottles and looking for my phone so I could listen to a podcast while I cleaned.  Then I got distracted and then I read this which is brilliant.

And per my m.o.(because I'm not sure all of you will click over and read it) I am going to quote a large portion of it here.  This is an open letter to all of the people (especially the mormons) on facebook who are posting about how the world is going to end now that Romney lost and how they are going to start stockpiling food (as a friend pointed out this could actually be just the economic push we need to really get the economy going. Well played Obama. Well played)

 Any time you hear that our country is getting more wicked, let me just let pictures tell you how I feel.
In this country, our moral issues are a little lopsided. We’re voting on this:

Instead of this:
Yep. We’re heading into moral decay alright. What, with our huge priorities in order. There’s nothing like two adults holding hands to bring in utter and awful devastation of children and the family. Oh wait…
Listen, I know money is tight. Times are rougher than you’ve seen for a while (unless you lived through the plague, the world wars, the great depression.) I’m not saying you have to be happy about it. Is ringing the bell of death knell really the way you want to react? Really?
That “end” you’re afraid of? The utter devastation and fear and poverty? The neighbor-stealing-your-food-at-gun-point sort of nightmare? Um, yeah. That’s already happened. It’s been happening for thousands of years.
You don’t want to lose your home or job. You’re worried about groceries and gas? Yeah, welcome to the rest of the world:
What? You don’t want to be like them? Me either, but I think we’re a ways from that.
Speaking of pride cycles, we might want to check ourselves if we start thinking that the end for us, looks like what 90% of the world looks like. We might want to see if maybe we’re a little spoiled if we watched those scary election results on our big screened TV’s in our warm homes and lamented on how “it’s all going to end.”

And for the rest of you who supported my candidate 

*****virtual high five*****

I can not wait to see what this man (and this amazing woman who is along side him) is/are going to do next! 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The newest pop sensation

This summer at the San Diego Zoo there were extra entertainers for the zoo when it was open later in the evenings.  Claire loved it.  He favorites were a trampoline melodrama (the people who jump) and a small acrobatic show (the people who swing). She talks about the people who jump and the people who swing constantly still.  I had to tell her that they went home (because after labor day they weren't at the zoo anymore).  At least once a day she'll turn to me and say, "who went home?"  To which I am supposed to reply "the people who jump."  The hubbs described her obsession by saying, "This is almost like a movie where dance changes the life of an inner-city youth {this happens to be one of my favorite movie genres}.  Do we need to put her in trampoline lessons?"

Both of the performances were set to catchy pop songs.  A couple of weeks ago she asked me to sing the people who jump song.  I told her I didn't know it and out of nowhere she said, it goes "Here's my number.  Call me maybe."

I was stunned.  Of course I knew the song.  We looked it up on youtube.  And because the video isn't kid friendly I downloaded the song.

Since then we have played it over and over.  This morning we have probably already heard it 10 times.

I could not be more proud.

And though my little brother thinks she's asking me not to take a picture I think she's wanting me to take a picture.  You be your own judge.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

After the Storm

Today is the first day we have internet back and it feels nice to be connected to the world again.  It's been a little surreal.  A friend who lives in Manhattan said that it feels a little like a tale of two storms.  There are people who live less than 15 miles from where I do whose lives have been ripped apart.  My world has been nothing more than inconvenienced--no internet, the hubbs having to camp out on the floor of Starbucks so he could get the train schedule.  I spent the afternoon looking at pictures of the storm and it's heart breaking.

And I guess....with is what I viewed of the storm.  There isn't any flooding or heart break--just wind and rain and extra days with the hubbs at home and no internet.

Sidewalk chalking with dad on cardboard boxes while looking out the storm door

Before the storm we stocked up on play-doh thanks to a gift card from the hubbs work mates in San Diego

Claire picked out Noah's outfit on Tuesday.  This picture sums up perfectly how each  of them felt about the situation

On our way to the park post storm

Noah on Halloween

Claire in her peacock costume

Trying to take a Halloween picture for posterity.  Claire had to pause to have a little candy snack

After trick or treating I caught her hiding in my room sharing her candy with our friend Syd