Friday, May 28, 2010

Easy! Fun! Free!

The other day, Julia decided to give Genevieve and me "fancy lessons," in the manner of one of her favorite children's books, "Fancy Nancy." Just like Nancy, she made up an ad for the lessons and posted it on the wall.

I especially like this part:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Can a Mom Rock the Skinny Jeans?

Last week, since my usual boot-cut Levi's are currently too big for me, I did something completely insane: I ordered a pair of skinny jeans. Yes! Is that not the craziest thing you ever heard, from a curvy 39-year-old mom? I mean, it's ridiculous. I recognize this.

But Susan Wagner swore they'd look great, that they DO look great, contrary to everyone's assumptions, even if you're NOT thin as a rail. And all the other curvy mom bloggers were raving about these particular jeans. And I've recently lost a bit of weight. (I like to call it my "preschooler weight," since the baby weight came off in two weeks after Genevieve was born. This weight had no excuse.) And I was tired of that baggy feeling you get when your pants are too big.

But still--skinny jeans. OMG terrifying. (How great is this, though: I got them for 30% off AND free shipping, PLUS free shipping on the return/exchange mailing because they sent me a defective size the first time around. Really!)

First of all, I spent FOREVER trying to decide between sizes: how tight is too tight? They're super stretchy and comfortable, so I decided to scandalize the other moms at kindergarten pick-up and go for the smaller size. But egad--I'm really not used to such things. I've been pregnant, nursing, or running around after pre-K children for six years. We wear yoga pants and non-tight jeans for all that.

Can a mom rock the skinny jeans look? I'm not sure, but Julia thought they looked like something "teenagers wear." Hmmm.

Here's what happened when Genevieve tried to take a picture of me as I was leaning over to talk to her:

Here's what happened when I tried to take a picture of myself in the mirror, in unfortunate light and without a flash:

What do you think? Can you even see anything in those awful photos? Too teenagery? Too tight? Too trendy? Or just not something someone with my particular gene pool should wear?

I like them and think they're fun, even though they're skinny and "skinny" is not a word I would use to describe myself. They'll look great in the fall tucked into tall flat boots.

Maybe YOU could rock the skinny jeans look too! Seriously: if the person attached to a booty like mine can buy and wear them, ANYONE can. Try them! You might like them. Even if you're a mom.

(P.S. Clearly my lack of photography skills in the take-my-own-picture department--heck, in any department--keeps me from being a style blogger. Among many, many other things. I apologize for making you view such awful photos. I'm sure I would have looked a lot better in decent pics. At least, that is my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I realized today that I'm in a state of flux.

I have one tiny daughter done with school for the summer and one in school for three more weeks. (So...what is that? Semi-summer vacation? Half-summer? What?) I'm inching toward the stay-at-home mom's worst nightmare, the switch-over to No More Naps for Anyone Anymore (I tried it once, last autumn, but it didn't stick), but we're not quite there and are instead hovering in a gray area involving napping, but only for short periods of time. I'm hesitantly completing interval runs a few days a week, slowly working back up to regular mileage after a spring of arthritis and running hiatus, but I'm still suffering as I do it, wheezing up and down the hilly roads near my house and wondering how in the world I could ever run them for six miles straight, not that long ago. I'm buying new clothes in April that are accidentally too big for me in May, because even my body is in flux, due to the Stress Diet and the running and various other biological factors too mysterious to discuss here. I'm planning the summer and avoiding planning the summer. I'm writing furiously on the book, and then feeling 100% sick of the book, without an ounce of interest. I'm living in the undefined mothering period between "toddler" and "grade-schooler," when parenting is an equal mix of babying them and telling them to suck it up. I'm contracting to have the house painted, while not yet certain how or when the house is actually going to be painted (or how to pay for it).

I don't do well with flux, in case you were wondering.

But there seems to be a lot of it in life.

Monday, May 24, 2010


So over the weekend I finally finished painting the guest bedroom. I know, I know: you're wondering how in the world could it take three weekends to paint one tiny bedroom?! (Four if you count the taping and prepping of the walls.) Well, actually, if you're a mom of small children you're not asking that. The rest of you might be.

I tell you, there's the painting, yes. But there's also the snacks and meals to prepare and the laundry to switch over and the cooking to do and the baking of the rhubarb muffins and the bottoms to wipe and the kid swimming lessons and the grocery shopping and the afternoon when your mother-in-law came to town for the day.

You see why I am quite sure that it will take me the next five years to paint the rest of the bedrooms, and the baths.

And also why I am hiring out the entire common living area of the house to professionals. Good Lord, I'd be painting till my hair turned white if I tried that myself. I'd be painting so long, when I finally finished it would be time to start over again.

It's a crazy time of year. Schools are ending, and my daughter has her birthday coming up, and there are all these events going on related to spring and the end of the school year--the family year-end ice cream socials and picnics and field trips and Kindergarten Graduation. You're busy doing all these things like planning your summer playgroups and trips to see the grandparents and signing the babies up for swimming lessons--or, at least, you're supposed to be doing all those things--and yet, actually, you're just running around chanting, Please just let me get through the next three days and not forget to turn in the school library books on time under your breath.

It's all about the moment. Don't talk to me yet about craft supplies for making wands at my daughter's fairy birthday party. I'm just trying to remember to pick up my photos from the last day of preschool and plant that poor tomato seedling that is languishing in its plastic carton on the patio table. I'm just trying to take the blue tape off the walls of the guest room before the grandparents come to stay.

I'm just trying to burn every moment of "The Last Weeks of School, Ages 3 and 5" into my memory.

Please don't let me forget what my girls were like when they were only three and five. Please. Please.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'll Say it--Yes!--Again: Where Does the Time Go?!

Today is Genevieve's last day of nursery school (in the Threes class) for the year. Can you believe that last year at this time I was agonizing over whether I should send her to preschool this year or not, as the second-youngest child in her cohort? And it ended up being a great year for her--aside from the inexplicable two-month span when she cried every day at drop-off for no discernible reason--and she's loved it. She's sad that it's over for the year, and she can't wait until her mini-week of summer school in July and next year when she'll go three mornings a week in the Fours class. And, just as importantly, it's been a good year for me to have her at school for five hours a week. I got a little break from her so I wouldn't lose my mind quite as completely or as fast as I would have otherwise, and I got to use some of those hours to work on my book. It was all good.

Plus, you know, this child CAN READ CHAPTER BOOKS, so....I think a little school is appropriate for her.

So this morning at 11 I get to pick up Julia from kindergarten and then go to the nursery school for the annual end-of-year family ice cream social. And remember doing this same thing the past two Mays for the end of Julia's preschool years. Funny how time flies like that. Genevieve used to be the baby tagging along at preschool ice cream socials. Now she's the preschooler getting her picture taken with her teacher on her last day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kindergarten Graduation for Moms

So. Has anyone else had a laundry list of crazy unexpected bills this spring tumbling down on your head? Surely you can just say "yes" to make me feel better. I've been putting things like doctor bills and groceries on my credit card, we've been so overcome by atypical expenses (furnace blow-out, blinds repair, medical expenses, dental expenses, garage door repair, broken furniture, the list goes on and on....) in the past several months. It's not pretty. I'm supposed to be signing my daughters up for little summer activities--we don't do much but a few weeks of swimming lessons or toddler tumbling is always good--but when your monthly budget reads zero in most categories and it's only the 17th, well... Sigh.

Then again, the weather FINALLY turned spring-like, IN THE MIDDLE OF MAY, so that's a positive development. And writing my book is going well. (I'm studiously overlooking the fact that I don't have a book contract or any reason to believe this book will ever see the light of day other than my own conviction that IT IS GOING TO BE AWESOME.) Oh, and I'm a runner again (even if it is kicking my ass because I'm two months out of shape right now).

But, kindergarten graduation is coming up, and I'm truly dreading it. I thought sending my firstborn off to kindergarten last September was hard, but I really get it now how the moms I know with older kids kept talking about how it's first grade that's really the milestone, the giant leap, the moment of tears and panic for the moms. First grade is all day, unsheltered, big kid stuff. She'll be without me for over seven hours a day. How am I to know she'll be OK for all that time? I won't be there, so I can't know. It's awful. Plus, doesn't it seem like kindergarten just started? This conversation seems like it took place about a week ago.

So I'm pretty sure I'll be sobbing during kindergarten graduation. Please look away if you are there too. It's going to be embarrassing I am sure.

Money stress, family stress, parenting stress--fun times, right? The good news is that the Stress Diet is the most effective diet ever. I've lost 13 pounds recently and none of my clothes fit anymore. Um, I guess that second part is actually bad. Because it's not like I have any money for buying new, smaller clothes.

Happy Monday, people! I hope you are less stressed out than I am. I'm going out to enjoy the weather now. A faraway friend sent me a message the other day recommending such mood-enhancing actions when overcome by distress. And she's not even a psychologist!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Be Back Soon. Busy. Back Soon.

How did I let another week get away from me like this? Why does time fly like this? Next week Genevieve's nursery school lets out for the summer, and I need to get Julia's birthday party invitations in the mail. After that, it's just a blink of an eye until Memorial weekend and Julia's 6th birthday and said party and grandparents visiting and treats for school (please God let me remember to bring treats to school on Julia's birthday) and the kindergarten zoo field trip (is it just me or does it seem CRAZY AND WRONG to send FIVE-YEAR-OLDS on a school bus to the city AN HOUR AWAY IN GOOD TRAFFIC to go to the zoo for the day? Seriously? Send my child on a bus to a different city an hour away without me? Uh, no. That is why either my husband or I will be accompanying the field trip WHETHER OR NOT WE ARE ASKED OR ALLOWED TO. Oh yes we will.). Ahem? Did I get away from myself there for a minute? I think I did.

Well. So. I've been busy doing a lot of other things that don't involve this blog. I've been painting a room in my house and getting my hair in the paint by accident and cursing the task of painting a room in my house. I've been finishing the chapter in the book I'm writing that has been dogging me for weeks. I've been editing the member handbook for the CSA farm my family belongs to, at the request of the farmers who own it. I've been taking my daughters to the dentist (where Genevieve had to get a FILLING for a CAVITY! she's just a THREE-YEAR-OLD BABY!). I've been doing a training plan for resuming running after my spring arthritis flare-up (oh God the huffing and puffing and wheezing). I've been doing wellness coaching over the phone with one of my clients (and if anyone else is interested in such services contact me at because even if I sometimes trip over my own bad habits I am AWESOME at helping other people solve their problems and reach their goals and live happier healthier lives, because I have a doctoral degree in such things). I've been planning a kid birthday party and registering children for preschool summer school and summer swimming lessons. I've been taking Julia to spring swimming lessons. I've been busy. I've been listening to my toddler read. I've been appreciating the way she says "amblee-ence" for ambulance and "hweaty" for sweaty and the way my kids call the stem end of a banana the "monkey end."

See? Busy.

What's been keeping you busy these days?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thank God There Were No Mortifying Answers on That Sheet.

The answers my five-year-old wrote on the Mother's Day fill-in-the-blank sheet she made in kindergarten (Julia's answers in bold):

My mom is 39 years old. [Correct]

She weighs 49 pounds. [I did just lose the I-weaned-the-baby-and-gained-ten-pounds weight, but this is a stretch. And yes I know the weaning part happened two years ago.]

She is 50 feet tall. [Maybe in her eyes? Awwww... More likely she has no idea what a reasonable number for height would be.]

Her favorite color is pink. [Also correct.]

Her favorite food is vegie tart. [Veggie tart; actually called Swiss chard and zucchini tart, and yes, it is my favorite food.]

She likes to writ. [Write]

She is pretty when she is in a dress. [Why thank you.]

The best thing I could give my mom is a flower. [Also a little less crying.]

I love my mom because she loves me. [Sweet!]

Aren't five-year-olds grand? This worksheet more than made up for the hand-painted mini-flowerpot she brought home on Friday, that HAD BEEN planted with marigold seeds (reportedly!) until she poked around in it on the school bus so much that she ended up spilling half the dirt, and no doubt all the seeds, on the bus floor and uprooting the paper flower card that had been stuck in there as well. Oops! Gotta love those little kindergartners.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Notes to My Daughters on Mother's Day

Before I had babies, I thought and hoped and imagined that I'd be a patient mom; that I wouldn't snap at you over things that don't matter in the grand scheme of things, that won't even matter tomorrow. I try so hard to be patient and calm and kind at all times, to not raise my voice so often, but I never get it right; it's like a robin willing herself to be a bright bluebird. I wish I could show you how to be infinitely patient and unruffled by the extremes of life, but I just can't do that. But I can show you how to be really, really excited by the small pleasures of life, like a good run in the woods or picking cherry tomatoes on a summer Saturday or making pizza dough from scratch or Christmas.

I wish I could be that laidback, carefree mom who doesn't stress about how many fruit and vegetable servings you get and how many treats you have in one day. The kind of mom who doesn't let it bother me too much that someone else's mom gave you three cups of juice and a full-size Little Debbie Honey Cake and you inhaled it all and felt sick later. I can't do that. But I can teach you how to make a really good organic Swiss chard and zucchini tart, and one day you'll love me for that skill.

I wish I could show you how to always forgive and forget, to take the noble path every time someone wrongs you, to never hold a grudge. But I'm not like that. What I can show you is--if you can't forgive and forget when a friend betrays you--how to write a really good essay about it and get it included in an anthology available on Amazon as your biggest publishing success, which--let's face it--is just a really, really awesome outcome.

I wish I could teach you how to do a cartwheel, and how to dive into a pool, and how to reliably hit a ball with a bat, so that you will always feel strong and capable and able to hold your own in elementary-school P.E. class and at sports-and-games birthday parties. I never learned how to do any of those things, so I can't do that. But I can take you running with me as soon as you get old enough, and show you that every girl can be strong and fit and active, if she's just shown how.

I wish I could be the perfect mom, the one about whom you'll say one day, "My mom was the BEST. She stayed home with us full-time, and we had fun every single day. She never lost her temper and we always knew how much she loved us." I know I will never be perfect, and Lord knows I lose my temper, but I trust that the last part of that sentence is and will be with you always.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The Mother's Day Note You All Deserve

Happy (early) Mother's Day to every mom in my life--the one who raised me, the ones of my best childhood friends who loved me too, and all the fellow-mom friends in my life right now, who make my mothering life bearable, wonderful, and a whole lot of (painful, hard-won) fun.

Watch the "note" below by writer Kelly Corrigan (whom I adore, by the way. Check her out! Her writing is AMAZING and she has an awesome website), and know that I think you are ALL awesome moms.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Getting Schooled

This photo has nothing to do with reading. But it's so dang cute.

I know I can't shut up about it, but I seriously CANNOT BELIEVE THAT GENEVIEVE CAN READ. And we're not talking simple little baby board books either, people. Yesterday Julia came home from kindergarten with a newly-moved-up Book in A Bag level. She had been on Level 8 which I knew was way too easy for her, and yesterday she was evaluated and came home with a Level 11/12. By the way, Level 7 or 8 or something like that is first grade reading.

While I was cleaning up after lunch, Genevieve picked up the book (which we had not read yet) and read out loud: "Walt Disney was born in 1901. He lived in a small town. When he was a boy, he worked hard. He got up early to sell papers." I walked over to her and checked the text of the book. Yep. That's what it said all right.

My second daughter is three, and she's reading first grade books.

I don't know the first thing to make of this.

I think maybe I should start now trying to talk her out of getting a Ph.D. Seriously: you spend your entire twenties working like a slave, you end up with a ton of debt, and your income is crap.

Oh, sorry--I got distracted there for a second.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Yesterday Was a Good Day.

Yesterday was a good day. Genevieve accompanied me to a dentist appointment, and she got a prize. I won two games of Candyland. I simultaneously cooked a delicious vegetarian dinner while playing soccer with my daughters in the backyard. (Yes! Really! I will not tell you my secret as it may diminish my superhuman powers.) Before bedtime, I read a chapter book to the girls under a big fuzzy blanket up on the king-sized bed, the three of us propped up with tons of pillows and a giant stuffed orangutan named Mike. And, mimicking Julia's recent attempt to think of a title for my book, Genevieve presented me with the following hand-written list of potential titles (please note: my book is not about most of these things):

* "Good Kids"
* "Kids Go to School"
* "Peanut Butter"
* "Bagels"
* "Happy Mom"
* "Birthday Cake"

Then the girls went to sleep and I wrote another few pages of my book. I'm loving May so far; how about you?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Did You Get May Day'ed?

When I was growing up in northwestern Minnesota in the '70s and '80s, the first day of May meant May baskets. I have learned that this tradition does not exist in all parts of the country, so I'll explain for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about. On May 1st, children make little baskets (we used flower-printed Dixie cups, with a pipe cleaner attached to each side of the rim as a basket handle) and fill them with candy (I've also heard flowers). Then they deliver them to friends in their neighborhood, but the fun part is in the surprise. You're supposed to hang them on the doorknob or leave them on the front stoop, ring the doorbell, and run away before the person answering the door can see who you are. You don't sign your name to the basket or include a note. It's just a little spring surprise. Fun!

I had forgotten all about May Day and May baskets until last year. For some reason it seems like May baskets aren't the common childhood tradition they used to be. But last May, some little friends of my daughters surprised us by leaving paper cones filled with candy on our front doorknob. (They did sign their names.) I decided then and there that the next year, I was going to be that mom too, the mom who revives May baskets for her kids.

On Friday afternoon after nap, the girls and I filled ten miniature flower-and-polka-dot-printed gift bags with a bit of paper grass and a handful of candies and treats. On Saturday morning we drove around town and walked to our neighbors, leaving May baskets for our nearby friends. We rang doorbells and ran, but no one was home so it didn't matter. But boy was it fun, walking my daughters up to front doors and supervising the leaving of the treats, having them ring the bell, then yelling, "Run! Run!" and watching them dash down the walk in excitement.

We ran into one family at whose house we'd just left two baskets, leaving baskets at the home of another family where we were delivering baskets too. And during the morning we received baskets at our front door from two families also. It seems that doing May baskets with your kids is the new Northfield-mom thing. I love it. I love my town. I'm not the best mom or even good enough some of the time, but I'm glad I'm one of those moms. It's fun and sweet, and it's a good way to celebrate spring.