Tuesday, March 30, 2010

For the Grandma Who Gave Her This Chef's Outfit

OK, so this post is merely two gratuitous cute photos of my younger daughter. We were making muffins last week and she put on her cooking get-up that my parents gave her last summer for her 3rd birthday. Genevieve loves to cook!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Break

The girls and I are on spring break this week. So far we've already had one birthday party and one family playdate. For the rest of the break, I have planned: a few playdates with kindergarten classmates, baking homemade cinnamon-sugar muffins, a little girls' tea party, painting our fingernails and toenails (you would not believe how long Julia's been begging for this), a girls' lunch out at a restaurant (a big treat for my daughters), haircuts, and a trip up to the city to the Children's Museum. Everyone's excited.

The weather forecast is amazingly perfect--sun and 60 to 70 degrees all week!--so we'll also leave enough time for plenty of free play in the backyard, bike riding (both girls have little bikes with training wheels), sidewalk chalking, park/playground visits, and maybe even a picnic. I obviously won't get any writing done this week, but it's worth it to have full days with both my girls and plenty of time to have some adventures. If everything goes according to plan, I hope to run them ragged every morning so they'll nap nicely every afternoon. Because even the most fun day with small children requires a little break from them around 1 p.m.


Don't you just love how when they're three, they draw people with arms coming out of their heads?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

SAHM Style

About a month ago, I snagged these ballet flats at Target, on sale for ten dollars. I realize a ten-dollar pair of shoes is going to be somewhat akin to, say, those disposable cardboard flip-flops you sometimes get after a pedicure. But Genevieve helped me pick them out, and they seemed like a good little shot of spring happiness during the gray gritty of Minnesota March.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Aging Isn't Pretty, People.

So the other week I went to the dermatologist to have some spots and freckles on my face checked out. I'm a super-fair-complexioned, nearly-full-blooded Scandinavian, so I'm extremely vigilant and concerned about skin cancer. In the past few years (read: as I've gotten closer and closer to MY FORTIES), I've noticed spots on my skin that weren't there before. This worried me.

My doctor told me they were harmless, but if I came back in two weeks, she could make them disappear for me if I wanted. Disappear? Heck yeah! Why not? I grew up with flawless skin, and sure, I'd love to get it back. (As much as that can be possible at age 39, with wrinkles and all. Let's just not talk about the wrinkles.)

Of course maybe I should have listened a little more when she said she'd be ZAPPING THE SPOTS WITH A LASER. ON MY FACE. Also the part about how, afterward, they'd turn into large purplish-red welts before fading away. And that those welts wouldn't fade away for, oh, two weeks or so. I chose to listen to the part about "you can cover them with makeup" and "then they'll go away."

This morning I had the laser treatment done. And rather than the five or six small spots I was troubled by, the doctor zapped every little flaw my face had on it. I mean, the laser was out, and it's only available one day a month, so why not? Go for it! Sure! Laser away every tiny dot you can see on my 39-year-old, decades-of-sun-exposed face! Dream of a flawless, perfect, even-toned appearance as a result. No pain, no gain, right?

Hmmm. Except now I have 30 giant purple welts on my cheeks, and my three-year-old keeps looking at me like I'm CRAZY. I think she believes some sort of monster mask has magically morphed itself onto my face, and that I'll take it off soon and look like myself again. And let me tell you, people, makeup DOES NOT HELP ALL THAT MUCH.

I keep reminding myself that in two or three weeks I'll look like Reese Witherspoon.

Right? Of course.

Still Writing.

This week I completed another chapter of my book, just in time for the month's end. I admit this chapter is a short one, and I purposely started writing with the chapters I could most easily envision and tackle, but the important part is that I have been able, thus far in 2010, to stick with my goal of finishing one book section per month (Intro + two chapters so far).

Reminder: my book is a "modern stay-at-home mom survival guide," combining tips, tricks, and strategies for managing kids, home, and family with guidance about mastering the more personal self-care challenges of full-time at-home motherhood (such as exercise, sleep, nutrition, mood, and stress management). I'm using my personal experience as a stay-at-home mom as well as my professional expertise as a Ph.D.-level clinical psychologist to write from a truly unique perspective. I want this book to read like your best experienced fellow-mom friend combined with your own personal therapist, wellness consultant, and life coach!

I am actively seeking representation for this project, so if any readers out there have connections in or leads about the publishing industry, please let me know!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Toddler Can Read.

Genevieve just picked up a learning-to-read book that Julia brought home as her kindergarten homework today, a level 8 (first grade level) book she'd never seen or heard before. Before I could read it to the girls, Genevieve read the entire thing out loud, correctly. She asked what one word was: "shook." Other than that she read the whole book. It was ten pages long, with three sentences per page (i.e., 'Mom asked, "Do you want to ride your bike?" Ned shook his head. Ned said, "No."')

I have no idea how my 3-1/2-year-old learned how to read. But she can.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How Much of Your Life Are You Missing?

My Internet friend--and mama-style-guru to the world--Susan Wagner wrote a post the other day about unplugging herself from social media for an entire weekend. (Be sure to read the comments, too; very interesting.) No e-mail, no blogging, no iPhone or Blackberry, no Twitter or Facebook. You know what she did? She hung out with her kids and her husband. She engaged in activities that didn't involve a small screen. She did all sorts of things we all used to do, all the time, before many of us discovered social networking.

I know a lot of people in my real life who don't spend hours every day online. In a lot of ways, they seem calmer and more fulfilled and less busy than those of us who do. I bet they pay more attention to their children. I bet they miss fewer moments, and have more conversations.

I've thought about this issue a lot. A LOT. Like, many, many, many times a day, every day, for months if not years. Sometimes I get sad when I think back to when Julia was a baby and visualize how different my household's life was then. We didn't spend all that much time on our laptops back then. We didn't have iPods. The Internet is a good, even great thing, and I have made some friendships and developed some support systems that have been integral to me as an at-home mom; keep in mind, when you're a full-time at-home mom, especially when your children are not yet in school, there are many days you have minimal contact with other adults during the day. It can be very hard. Without the Internet, I would probably be a lot more lonely than I am now. (For one thing, I wouldn't know Susan! And, Facebook is how my neighbor and fellow bus-stop-mom found out that Julia was throwing up all Monday night, and thus offered to pick up saltines and Pedialyte for us at the grocery store.)

But by and large I think living online makes most of us miss out on an awful lot of our actual, in-the-moment lives. And I don't think any of us will care, years down the road, that we didn't tweet quite enough or post enough updates on Facebook; I do think we might wonder if we gave too little to our best, real-life selves, children, and homes, and too much to electronic devices connected to the Internet.

What say you, fellow social media users? Who among you could honestly unplug for an entire weekend (or an entire day, or an entire week)? I'm not talking about work stuff during work hours; I'm talking about purely recreational social media use.

What would happen if you did? What would you miss out on? And what would you tune into?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pretty Monday

Here's a pic of my daughters and me on our way to the mother-daughter tea party yesterday afternoon.

I seriously can't believe we started going to this annual tea when my babes were both under three! And now look at my pretty little ladies. A huge thanks to my generous, gracious, and culinarily-gifted friend Laura, the lovely hostess. She has given my daughters and me some wonderful memories!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tea Party

Today my girls and I are going to my friend Laura's famous annual mother-daughter tea party. Every spring I marvel at how lucky we are to know Laura, and to be invited. She's amazing, as is the party. She cooks for days and makes impressive things like towering coconut layer cakes (which Genevieve, in her confusion about words, calls "mushroom cake").

Do you remember the first mother-daughter tea party, though? Do you? It was in May, the spring that Julia and Genevieve were almost-three and nine months old. Before we left, my toddler locked me outside on the patio, with she and the (crawling) baby inside alone. That was a little, um, alarming.

Let's hope today is a little less eventful.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Find it Hilarious That Sleep Was My Greatest Concern About Being Forced to Return to College as a Middle-Aged Mom.

Despite being drained and overtired from my sinus infection this week, I didn't sleep well last night. Genevieve woke me up overnight, and after that I was awake for several hours, lying in bed and thinking about various worrisome things, mainly related to Julia starting first grade next year. There's nothing like your child's kindergarten parent-teacher conference to get you thinking about first grade coming in just five short months.

Julia's already reading, writing, and doing math at the first grade level, so I'm not concerned about academics. I'm worried about the stamina required to withstand a seven-hour school day, and the fact that while the transition from half-day to all-day school is tiring for most children starting first grade, Julia has particular energy and growth issues that make me truly wonder how she will be able to do it.

We've been having her thyroid and vitamin D levels tested this winter, to see why she's always tired and isn't growing.

(Although, an update: in the past 24 hours, she has complained that two of her pairs of shoes are too small. These are shoes that have fit for almost two years. So Mom, thanks again for buying Genevieve's spring jacket this year, since it looks like I'll have another new expense this weekend in the form of new shoes for Julia.)

So far, Julia's medical tests have been mixed/inconclusive (thyroid) or normal (vitamin D, though it's at the very low edge of the normal range). Nothing has yet explained her difficulty keeping up with other children and having enough energy to really run around and play. She complains of being tired a lot, and naps solidly every day. I always have to think about what she has the stamina to undertake, when planning things as minor as extra after-school playdates or extra-curricular activities like once-a-week gymnastics or art class. And though she eats well and has gained weight appropriately this year, she's still the shortest child in her class (by quite a bit). In June, when she turns six, we will likely seek a pediatric endocrinologist consult, if things do not improve this spring.

But my point is, it's tough to imagine this little worn-out sprout pushing on through lunchtime and an entire afternoon of classroom work next year at school. These are the things that keep me awake at night.

When I finally did fall back to sleep, I had a terrible dream in which I discovered I had not amassed enough college credits to graduate, and was forced to return to Macalester College (after 16+ years) and live in the dorms to finish my degree. I was in a crumbling, multi-room suite with numerous other students and all the beds scattered around a common (noisy) living area (nothing like Macalester in real life, I assure you--at least not nowadays; those kids live in the lap of luxury, I swear!). The worst part was that my roommates were MEAN. They told me that "quiet hours" in the room didn't start until midnight, and they'd be up partying every night until then. No one cared that I'M A MOM TO TWO YOUNG CHILDREN AND NEED TO GO TO SLEEP AT NINE, PEOPLE! They insisted that sleeping time was twelve to twelve. I thought to msyelf, I'll die! I can't stay up until midnight!

Hmmm. So this is what my inner mental life has come to. Worries about my tiny daughter surviving first grade, and nightmares about being forced to stay up socializing until midnight.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Random Thoughts

  • I think my daughter is the only kindergartner in her class, and possibly in the world, who still naps every afternoon. Other moms are always trying to set up playdates with us immediately after school (i.e., she would go home with the little friend at lunchtime, have lunch there and play). I'm like, Uh, my daughters nap in the afternoon. We can play from three to five. This seems to surprise everyone, but I kind of like the fact that my almost-6-year-old still naps. Girl needs the rest, people! She's not a big-girl all-day-school-ager just yet!
  • Genevieve seems to be getting a little bit nicer and friendlier. Lately she's been hugging me and telling me she loves me, unprompted, and her instances of screaming in my face have decreased. Also, the other day at preschool I watched her gleefully go up and down the slide over and over with a little girl in her class, side by side and clearly with one another. I could see her looking at the other girl and talking to her. Progress!
  • It seems SO ODD to no longer have a child young and small enough to routinely ride in a stroller. I mean, we still have a stroller (more than one, actually), and they'll be good for another few months for those tired-legs emergencies, but by and large our fair-weather vehicles are now trikes, scooters, and bicycles. I don't know if I can fully express what a foreign feeling that is to a full-time, at-home mama like me, after nearly six years of baby/toddlerhood. I know I've talked about this before, but it's just the strangest, weirdest thing. Babies grow up! Crazy.
  • The other day, a fellow kindergarten parent who volunteers in Julia's class every week described her to me in an e-mail as "totally charming and self-possessed." So funny how another parent can see your tiny five-year-old as charming and self-possessed on the same day that you saw her having a crying fit at the front door when you insisted she wear her mittens to the bus stop.
That's all I've got, people. I'm sick. I've got parent-teacher conferences later today. And I'm stressing about bills and lack of income and the cost of private swimming lessons for my water-phobic daughter. More later, and stay well!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What is it With Me and March and Getting Crazy Sick?

So, in case I haven't mentioned it yet, I'm totally sick. That little cold I caught last week has turned into a killer sinus infection. Blech.

You might not know this about me, but although I don't get sick terribly often, when I do, I have a tendency to get really, really sick. I'm the kid who missed her entire winter break during sixth grade, because I came down with a severe double ear infection on the first day of vacation, and didn't get completely better until the very last day. The last time I had a sinus infection, two years ago TO THE DAY (seriously, how crazy is that?!), I was sick for a full 3-1/2 weeks, during which my husband went out of town for work, I took care of two toddlers on my own while staying up at night crying from how badly my face hurt, I went to the doctor three separate times, and an entire season changed. When I finally recovered, it was full-on spring and I still had to pack away all the winter gear and find the girls' short-sleeved shirts and lightweight jackets. I seem to recall something about being about ten loads behind on laundry. Oh, and do you remember how that whole scenario ended? With me in the ER after an adverse reaction to a routine tetanus booster, caused by a nicked vein and a rare side effect of the antibiotic I was taking for the sinus infection? Ah, memories.

So, OK. Let's assume this bout isn't going to last NEARLY A MONTH. It's still been two weeks since I've exercised or worked on my book. I don't know if I'll be able to meet my monthly writing goal this month. And boy will I be sore when I next try to hobble out a measly two- or three-mile run. (Right now my legs get tired going up the stairs.) I hate being sick and having to reconfigure all my goals and self-expectations. It seems like I had just hit a really good stride with both the book and my running mileage when illness, scheduling conflicts, and other problems tumbled down on me all at once. So frustrating!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Little Reminder of Why I Do This Job

Earlier tonight, out of the blue, Genevieve asked me why I'm a stay-at-home mom. I told her it's because I want to be the one to take care of her all day, that if I went to work I'd have to bring her to daycare. She didn't know what daycare was, so I explained.

A little later on, she gave me a little note she'd written. It said, "I love you I don't want you to go to work and I don't want me to go to daycare To Mama From Genevieve."

Oh my goodness! Sad! Cute!

In other news, Genevieve has finally begun to sleep through the night. At 3-1/2 years old.

Things are looking up, people!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Better Living Through Colic, Diapers, and Night Feedings

Julia persists in her quest to help me think of a working title for the book I'm writing. (More like trying to write, these days. Oy.) She knows it's about stay-at-home motherhood, and will include ideas about kids' activities, family cooking, etc. (in addition to the more self-help, survival-tactics part of the book), but understandably, her comprehension of the project is a bit sketchy. Mostly she can't fathom how I could not have thought up a title yet.

Yesterday she wrote me a list of title suggestions. The list includes: "Moms Love Kids," "Moms Play With Kids," "Play Cooking is Fun," "Kids Like to Play Outside," and "Picnics are Fun."

But my favorite title was this one: "You Get Better Homes With Babies."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Forward

Really? I haven't written here since Tuesday? I'm so sorry, people. That is not like me!

Maybe it was because Julia got sick this week, and then Genevieve got sick, and then I got sick. (We all still are, really.)

And it rained all week. (Literally. It has rained every day, pretty much all day, since Monday, and is still doing so. When it's not actually raining, the fog is dripping off the trees like rain anyway. You would not believe the gloom here right now. You can practically feel your good-mood brain chemicals drying up.)

Somewhere in there, preschool was closed for a day (damn you, preschool! damn you!), and I went to Genevieve's parent-teacher conference, during which her beloved teacher told me that she's "a total delight" (ahem) and that she's fantastic about "taking care of her things and cleaning up after herself" (ahem). Hmmm. MUST BE NICE, PRESCHOOL TEACHER.

This week pretty much defined the word "unproductive." No running took place. No writing took place. Very little household cleaning took place. Much TV-watching, Internet-surfing, and lazing around took place, interspersed with coughing, sniffling, and sneezing. You get the idea.

However, a few highlights occurred: Julia learned how to tie. Genevieve independently wrote and gave me a book, the text of which reads: "Moms love their baby's. Moms love their Julia's and their Vivi's. And their Elmo's." (? I don't know where that last part came from. Also, the book was titled, inexplicably, "The Cat.") Since she's only three, I figured I'd overlook the indiscriminate use of apostrophes.

Also, the vast majority of our snow pack (at least two feet on the ground) melted seemingly overnight, turning what felt like eternal deep winter into, instantaneously, what feels like unfamiliar spring. The sidewalks and driveways and streets are all bare and wet. Grass is visible everywhere. All three of our yard's snowmen disintegrated like abandoned Popsicles. Our patio is a mess of mud, shrivelly carrots from snowmen's noses, once-buried plastic shovels and pails from months of playing in the snow, and wet bird's-nest detritus from the nest above our back door. If it ever dries up outside, we've got a major cleaning project to do.

I will leave you with the bit of wisdom Genevieve expressed last night in the car as I drove us to toddler tumbling:

Genevieve: Mama, it is hard to read a book to a cat.
Me: Is it?
Genevieve: Yes, because if you read a book to a cat, the cat just walks away!

So true. So, so true.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

There Should Be a Law Against Giving Up Sugar in March.

Thanks to a random e-mail from a friend this morning, I just realized THERE IS NO PRESCHOOL ON THURSDAY. Gah! Seriously, I would have driven to preschool on Thursday morning, FOR SURE, had my friend not mentioned it in her e-mail. (It's parent-teacher conferences day.) Forgive me, I'm going to be a bad mother here for a second, but it does not make me happy to hear there is no preschool on Thursday. And yes, I know Spring Break is coming up, when NEITHER of my children has school FOR OVER A WEEK, but that is different. I am mentally prepared for that. We are going to do all sorts of fun exciting things. Some of those things will involve wearing pj's all day and watching cartoons while snacking. I've got a plan. I can handle that.

But this is just one day in the middle of a grim, gray, dirty week, when I lose out on one of my two 90-minute chunks of weekday alone time, in order to spend more time with Miss Crankypants. Yes, I love her. Yes, she's very difficult to hang out with much of the time and generally on Tuesday and Thursday mornings I spend half of my free 90 minutes trying to breathe deeply and not think about how difficult she is. Then I try to get a few things done before I have to go back and pick her up.

But honestly, does it really matter? I'm not getting any writing done on these preschool mornings lately anyway. I have started a second chapter, and YES I WILL complete it before March is over YES I WILL, but right now I can't think of anything to say. Mostly I'm preoccupied with avoiding sugar for Lent and calculating how many more days until I can have a DQ Blizzard. Also how much mileage I've missed out on recently with my running, because of blisters and shoe problems and sudden attacks of laziness, and how out of shape I am consequently becoming. Also how everyone in my house is coughing at night and keeping me awake, and how tired I am because of it. And how much I hate dusting the furniture and cleaning the kitchen. And how those things need doing. Sigh.

I think the hardest part about being an at-home mom is the lack of positive reinforcement. You don't get a paycheck, let alone raises or bonuses, and no one ever sits you down for a performance review and says, "Way to go! You've successfully coped with twelve hundred tantrums in the past year, managed skipped naps and school drop-off freak-outs, and I've been so impressed with the way you've consistently kept the house sparkling clean and turned out homemade meal after homemade meal, on a limited budget and with frequently challenging time constraints! FANTASTIC JOB." There are no public kudos after successfully volunteering at nursery school or planning a multi-kid birthday party. No one puts a glowing memo in your file when you change the thousandth diaper or sleep-train the baby for the third time. If you're lucky, you'll get the kisses and hugs and thank-yous from your kiddos themselves, and those make it worthwhile. But most of the time it's not like that. Toddlers and preschoolers and kindergartners aren't famous for praising your concerted efforts to get them bundled up to play outside in the snow even when the bundling takes more time than the actual playing. Nor do they notice that it takes a lot of motherly patience to cheerfully wipe yet another bum.

And if only there was preschool on Thursday, I could use those 90 minutes to turn all that into a chapter for my book, now couldn't I?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mystery Angel

Today in the mail I got a mystery gift. It was sent by the artist Kelly Rae Roberts (do I know you, Kelly Rae Roberts? Is it somehow through Superhero Journal?), but there was no card or message inside. The gift was a gorgeous, lovely, painted wooden angel plaque, strung on a ribbon, holding the words, "Tell Your Story."

I am amazed to be so blessed. Whoever sent this to me is an angel. (Is it from Kelly herself? How does she know me? Does she read me here? How does she know my address? Or did someone order it from her, for me?)

I love it so much! I have the perfect place for it. This angel will watch over me and encourage me to persevere in my work on my book, to tell my story of mothering my girls and making a life for myself at home with them--I hope a story that will resonate with and help and inspire women trying to do the same.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart! (I wanted to post a photo of the angel here but my camera batteries are dead. So sorry! But Kelly Rae has a beautiful website, which you should check out.)

I can't explain this mystery package (did I enter a giveaway somewhere online, on someone's art-friendly blog? I have no memory of doing so....), but I feel like it is a little hug from the universe. Or a mystery friend. Or a new friend. Or a known friend, doing lovely anonymous things. Kelly Rae Roberts, your work is gorgeous!

Level 7

Genevieve continues on her path of being the most puzzling (and maddening) toddler ever. At home, she is not only talkative and loud, silly and adventurous, but of course she is also extremely obstinate, resistant to just about every request, hot-tempered, and even mean. She thinks nothing of adopting a sassy, taunting tone of voice in which to say rude things, merely as a reaction to someone else--and by that I mean Julia--being upset or cranky about something (not even related to her). She will also hit or shove Julia if Julia is crying, simply because she so hates the sound of other children's cries. IRONIC ISN'T IT.

And then in every social situation, from playdates to preschool, she refuses to speak, make eye contact with anyone, smile, or respond to others' (much more appropriate) behavior toward her, such as when they wave and say, "Hi, Genevieve!" with a big smile on their faces. Mainly, she ignores people. She follows all rules, and is mainly silent and compliant. The exact opposite of how she is at home. She does not talk to or play with other children. She doesn't even smile or talk to my best friend, who has known her since she was born, and who has spent countless hours with her over the years.

Yesterday after lunch I was sitting with Julia, doing kindergarten reading homework. Julia is on reading level 7 at school, which I gather is quite high for a kindergartner. She brings home these little books that I read to her and then she reads out loud to me. When we finished yesterday, Genevieve took the book and read it out loud too. She does this every day. She rarely makes a mistake.

Lately, Genevieve has been drawing elaborate pictures and writing all sorts of words and sentences on them. Her printing is fantastic and she can write many things without asking for help. She will write, "By Genna. To Mama and Daddy and Julia. I love you." and it looks like the work of a six-year-old. When people see her papers, they generally think Julia made them.

Some close friends of ours who recently saw one of Genevieve's writing projects--and who know Genevieve very well--told me later that they joked together that they'd figured it all out about Genevieve and her crazy, challenging personality. "No wonder they have so much trouble with Genevieve," our friends said to each other. "She's a genius!"

I don't think Genevieve is necessarily a genius, but that exchange made me laugh for awhile, which was nice. I'm not writing it here to be boastful about my child. It was a joke. She's very smart, but I don't really care about that one way or the other. I never work on writing or letters or numbers with my children. I don't coach them on academics. I value education highly and will always make school our family's main priority, but I'm not the type to tutor my children on my own or spend a lot of energy making sure they are the smartest or best. I would much rather my children be nice and have good values and proper manners and be good citizens of the world than get straight As at school. I don't care if my three-year-old can write all her letters perfectly or read kindergarten books.

But whatever the explanation, genius or not, it's clear this child is always going to be a challenge. The hardest part is that most people don't know what she's really like and how difficult to parent she really is. When someone never makes a sound or says a word in your presence, how hard can she seem, behavior-wise? Sure, she seems aloof and unfriendly, but most fellow parents just chalk that up to being shy. They don't know that at home, she fights me on just about everything from dawn to dark, wearing me down to a nub every day.

So maybe she is a genius; I don't know. Maybe she'll go on to do great, astounding things in this world. Time will tell with this one. She'll either rule the world or get herself into a whole heap of trouble someday.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

It was a Learning Experience.

So guess whose feet began to slowly ache after one measly 2-1/2 mile run last night in the new, inexpensive (and cute and PINK) running shoes? What a drag, people.

The run itself was fine, but I cut it short to ease into the new shoes and appease my blister. Then, about two hours later, the soles of my feet began to feel the way they did back in the day, when I was diagnosed with arthritis in my toes (which ultimately led to plantar fasciitis in both soles) and went through a torturous four years of chronic pain and multiple frustrating medical treatments. I mean, last night I felt just a mild beginning of that sort of pain, but it was enough of a sign that I personally need expensive/supportive running shoes to make me clean off the shoes and pack them up to return them to Target tomorrow, and get online to order the New Balances I've worn without problem for many pain-free years now. (Can I just add that the current New Balances are a maddeningly ugly ORANGE color, people? As opposed to the cute and stylish PINK of the Champions? Who chooses ORANGE for a running shoe, anyway? That's not going to look nice with any of my pink running clothes!)

I know this story has nothing to do with parenting or motherhood or my daughters. But I knew some of you were interested in the outcome of my shoe experiment.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Refrigerate Your Jell-O Mousse, People.

I persevere on my sugar-boycott. Last week was full of ups and downs, as I felt fine one day (or hour), then felt sugar-crazed the next, then accidentally ate some Jell-O sugar-free chocolate mousse cups from my pantry that I had not realized WERE SUPPOSED TO BE REFRIGERATED. Ugh, people!

However, in case you ever need to know: you can totally eat Jell-O sugar-free chocolate mousse cups that have been sitting in your pantry for a week with no ill effects. What that says about the chemical preservative content of Jell-O sugar-free chocolate mousse cups, the pitiful nature of my daily diet, or both, I don't want to know.

Moving on. In the midst of the sugar ban, my running shoes freakishly turned on me, started falling apart, and gave me a blister so severe that it foiled two runs. (This may be related to the fact that they are not my normal shoe model, but a clearanced pair of discontinued-model shoes that I guess were on clearance for a reason.) After reading Christopher McDougall's bestseller Born to Run earlier this winter, I decided to take a major chance and try--for the first time in my 20+-year running career--inexpensive, non-major-brand, non-technical running shoes this time around (especially since I needed to replace my shoes quickly). I hauled Genevieve with me to Target yesterday morning, where I purchased a pair of Champion running shoes from Target's new running gear line. (I have been very happy with the other Champion running gear I have purchased there previously--tights and jackets and tanks and such.) Since they cost 1/3 the price of a typical "serious" running shoe, if they're a total disaster and fall apart in two months and have to order my regular brand anyway, I won't have lost anything, money-wise. But if they work just fine, think of the money I'll save!

If you're not going to eat sugar for your typical stress-relief and energy-building needs, you at least have to be able to get out there and run. I'm trying out my new shoes tonight, so I'll let you know how they feel.

Don't forget to watch the new NBC show "Parenthood" tonight (9 p.m. CST). The Olympics didn't end for nothing, people! It's time for some new TV options, and you all know the high hopes I have for this one. I am in dire need of some commiseration, and a few laughs, about the rocky road of raising babies these days--and really, who isn't? The only thing that might really bother me about this new series is that I can tell, from the promos, that it revolves around a large, extended family who all live near one another and are sort of in it together. I've seen clips involving big family dinners and grandparents at T-ball games and elders giving advice and respite to harried urban parents. I might sort of hate all those parents when I watch those scenes. What do they have to be harried or upset about? They have help and company on their parenting paths. The only help and company I have on my parenting path is a stack of Family Fun magazines on the floor near my bed. Ha--just kidding, there, a little bit. I have a little company. I don't have any help, though, really.

Even so, I'll have my TV on at 9 tonight. That's when I usually go to sleep, by the way.

Lastly, I can tell spring is on its way. The sun is higher in the late afternoon, the water is running here and there, just a tiny bit, like a little prayer. The girls are excited by thoughts of sidewalk chalk and playground visits. We will make it.