Thursday, September 30, 2010

I said "CARP." C-A-R-P.

It has been a rather blissful week here in Wonderland. Because the rain finally stopped and the sun came out and this has halted the flood, the whole town has seemed bathed in autumnal perfection. The leaves are rapidly turning, and so far this week every day has been sunny, crisp, and about 70 degrees by afternoon. This has meant after-school meet-ups at the park with friends, playdates in the backyard, lunch picnics, and the kind of runs that make runners love running. Ahhhh.....

However, we do have carp on the sidewalk downtown. No, not crap. CARP. As in the FISH. Seriously.

Also, I went to the eye doctor yesterday and found out that my adult-onset (ragweed? pollen? what?) allergies trouble my sensitive eyes so badly it's a miracle I can see at all. (Don't worry. I got some eye drops, and my doctor swears my eyesight and eye health are great otherwise. I mean, with the help of my super-strong contact lenses to counteract the near-blindness nearsightedness. When I win the lottery, I'm getting LASIK for SURE.)

And now I am off for breakfast/a.m. snack with Genevieve downtown at my favorite coffeeshop (I will be sure to avoid any carp I might encounter), followed by storytime at the library and the hunt for a kids' movie to watch tomorrow evening for Family Movie Night after our biweekly visit to the farm. Of course for us, Movie "Night" should more accurately be called "Movie Late Afternoon or Early Evening," since we eat dinner early and put our kids to bed around 7. But it's still fun to eat popcorn in the living room with pajama'ed children while watching cartoons.

Isn't my life exciting? You're welcome for this perfunctory, ho-hum post. Happy almost-weekend! Have your own Movie Night tomorrow, why don't you? It's fun.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Will Work for Food. Or Fake Grandparents.

I realize she looks harmless.

This is what I just posted as my status update on Facebook:

"I am having one of those weeks with Genevieve where I am busy considering how I could potentially hire some nice people to pretend to be local in-town (or nearby) grandparents with whom I could drop her off occasionally so as not to lose my ever-loving mind and all my hair."

Any takers? Get in touch with me.



Monday, September 27, 2010

Mom Multi-Tasking

I've been working really hard to make progress with my writing--both paid and unpaid--lately. In the past two weeks I've written an entire chapter of my book plus 18 (short) health and nutrition web articles for (I'm aiming to get up to 10 per week.) Mothering while working, cooking while writing, thinking while running, writing while waiting for children to wake up from naps.

What I've noticed is that the more work I have to get done, the more time-efficient I become. This is eternally, universally true, isn't it? Have you noticed? That if you can get away with it, you spend half an hour aimlessly surfing celebrity gossip sites on the Internet, even if you have better things to do? But once there's a true, meaningful goal (a part-time paycheck, anyone?), you do things like spend the ten minutes between baking muffins and the arrival of the afternoon school bus pounding out five paragraphs on "How to Eat to Raise Your Good Cholesterol"?

Anyway, this kind of multi-tasking is nothing new to busy moms. We're all writing freelance articles while waiting for the school bus, so to speak.

Have a good, busy, productive week, everyone.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Water's Rising

Sorry I have not been posting, people. We have been having A FLOOD in my town. A flood which occurred so suddenly that we are all still reeling. It was caused by 3 days of nonstop rain, but the flood itself--when the river overflowed its banks and sent our downtown, riverside parks, college football field and stadium, streets, and RiverWalk, underwater--happened all at once. Want to see? Check out this graph of the height of the river over the past several days. (Thanks to my friend Rob for the graph) Notice the EXTREMELY HIGH JUMP at the far right side???

(Click on the graph to enlarge)


And here's one of many great photos taken by our friend and fellow Northfielder Doug Bratland:


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Upcoming Election

Is sitting on a turtle presidential?

Mama, I have a dream. Do you know what my dream is? To be the President of the United States.

Me: Awesome!

Julia: I'm gonna TRY to be, anyway.

Me: You could totally do it. You're smart enough for sure.

Julia: Or....I could maybe even be President of the HOUSEHOLD!

Me: Well, if you grow up to be a mama you will be the President of the household. But you can be President of the United States too.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

And the Opposite of "August" is "Insanely Busy."

Genevieve's first day of school, September 10, 2010

Yesterday morning at 7:50 when the girls and I walked down the block to the bus stop it was drizzly and chilly--maybe 50 degrees at best--with a cool wind. We shivered waiting for the bus and wondered what happened to typical warm summery Minnesota September weather. It was like that all day. And then at about 2:30 p.m. the sun came out and within half an hour the temperature had gone up 20+ degrees and my house got so hot and humid that I had to turn on the air conditioning. It was rather jarring, the speed at which things changed.

This is what life has felt like since school began just over two weeks ago. We seem to have gone from zero to 60 mph in a matter of seconds. All of a sudden I don't have time to call my dear friend in San Antonio to catch up, because I am no longer spending lazy mornings sitting on the patio while my girls play in the sand table.

Instead, I am doing bus stop duty, preschool pick-up and drop-off runs, homework supervision, after-school playdates, volunteer school-room cleaning, lunch packing, snack baking, sick-child caretaking, first-grade-moms coffees, preschool-moms' coffees. I am looking ahead and planning for or scheduling things like school breaks, parent-teacher conferences, school photos, fundraisers, grandparent visits, fall preschooler gymnastics class, classmates' birthday parties, snack turn, applesauce-making. I am writing 10 articles a week on health, nutrition, and fitness for a company that provides content to and pays by the piece. I am back to working on my book. I am running 15 to 20 miles a week and counting down the hours to the "Glee" season premiere tonight. (I am a bit of a dork in that regard.) I am making apple crisp and pumpkin bread and baked squash and banana muffins and chocolate-chip pancakes and potato-white-bean soup and raspberry-apple pie.

In other words, I have whiplash from the sudden and extreme change from my life all summer to my life in September. It's all good, it's just a little head-spinning. Much like the weather in Minnesota in the fall.

In other updates, Genevieve has stopped crying when I leave her at nursery school, and she tells me that the opposite of "lion" is "tiger," and that the opposite of "car" is "truck." In case you wondered.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

First Grade = Germ Central

I've heard there are children who sleep in a little bit on weekends. Like, later than the time they normally get up for school, which is 6:15 in our house. Sadly, at 6:11 this morning I heard my daughters talking in their room, debating whether it was still the middle of the night or not. I didn't even try to go in and attempt to convince them it was. This is futile. Their father still sometimes (hilariously) does this. Poor man. It never works. I mean, are you kidding?

Julia came down with a cold overnight last night. Nothing major, but I could hear her coughing and sniffling over the baby monitor. (Yes, we still use a baby monitor. Don't judge.) But back to my topic here. Last Saturday she came down with the stomach flu. Today she comes down with a cold. For those keeping score, that is two illnesses within one week of first grade (and within the first two weeks of first grade). Hello, first grade! Where apparently the germs are shared more prolifically than in half-day kindergarten!

I plan to put a miniature bottle of hand sanitizer in her lunchbox.

Again, don't judge.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Self-Clean the Oven" Was on My Life List

Oh my word, I'm boring this week. Here it is Wednesday, and what have I said here? Something about the throwing-up flu, and that's it. Apologies.

OK, yes, so Julia already missed a day of school, five days into the year. Not a harbinger of good things to come. Also: harbinger: used correctly here or not? I'm not sure anymore. College was a long time ago.

So, do I sound tired? I think I'm tired. Don't worry--everything's great. School is great; weather is great; running is great. But the beginning of a new school year is tiring. I never thought I'd be the mom who wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to get myself ready for the day before waking up my kids for school, and I am, setting my alarm for 5:30 a.m. Oy! That's early. This is what you have to look forward to, oh moms of preschool-aged-and-under children.

And honestly, there's just a lot to do. I'm way behind on my (own, personal, arbitrary) schedule for writing my book--like, nearly four months behind. Oops! Summer of Fun, remember?! I'm thrilled to be doing some writing for money. (THRILLED. But busier now.) I feel like I should be a first grade room parent one morning a week, though I'm conflicted because of the time involved. And yet: what the heck? What am I doing this full-time mothering gig for, anyway, if not for time to be a room parent? I'm back up to my normal running mileage, which takes more time (but is so worth it). In other words, there are only so many hours in the day, and sleep takes a back seat to running, writing, earning money, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of my kids. Nothing new there, right?

In other news, I finally self-cleaned my oven. Thank you. You can send congratulatory notes to Flowers can be delivered between noon and 5 p.m., today through Friday.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Curse on All Those Germy Kids

I have nothing to say other than it is a big fat bummer to catch the first throwing-up flu virus of the school year after only FOUR DAYS of school. On a sunny, warm weekend. During the night. When you were supposed to go for ice cream cones AND A PARADE the next day.

Didn't I say first grade is hard?

Friday, September 10, 2010

I Need Some Sort of Diploma for Surviving the First Week of First Grade

Two things:

First, being the parent of a child in school is way more complicated than being the parent of a baby or a toddler.

Note that I did not say "way harder" or "way more exhausting." But complicated? Yes. I mean, people, you witnessed the intellectual challenge that was the Picking Out of the School Lunchbox! This week I have also traversed the mental terrain of Comprehending the Elementary School A.M. Drop-Off Policy and Map (full disclosure: possibly not yet fully accomplished), not to mention Successfully Mastering the Requirement to be in Two Different Places at the Very Same Time, with Two Different Children Going to Two Different Schools (progress made).

People, I know that this is small potatoes compared to the mental and physical gymnastics I'm going to have to engage in when my kids are, like, 11 and 13 and their schedules and school policies are more complex than the University of Illinois Graduate School's rules for typing up my dissertation. (Which, by the way: Gah! I still have PTSD from that ordeal, ten years later. Uh, moving on.)

Oh! And second: Yeah, sending your child to half-day kindergarten is nothing compared to sending your child to all-day first grade. OK, that's not completely true. In one way, kindergarten was much more wrenching: the first time she'd ever ridden a daily school bus, the first time she was away from me on five consecutive mornings every week, the first time she was faced with crowds of bigger, older children in the hallways and on the playground. First grade isn't as hard because of all that; that's old hat now. But all-day school makes morning kindergarten seem like a sweet sheltered romp with fellow baby lambs. First grade is long, people! And tiring! And hard! She comes home and it's like she's been to war. Well, a pleasant, nice, friendly war, with loving superiors and scheduled bathroom breaks, but still.

No, really---Julia likes first grade so far. She's got the best teacher ever, the perfect kind of teacher, the kind of teacher you'd imagine if you were envisioning the ideal teacher of six-year-olds facing all-day school for the first time. Her school is so incredibly sweet and friendly and caring. She knows 4th- and 5th-grade neighbors and family friends who come up to her on the playground before the first bell and make sure she's all right if she looks lonely and nervous. The librarian remembers her by name from last year.

But seriously, you all, I'm the mom of a bona fide school-ager this year--the real deal too, not just half-day--and whoo boy, it's complicated. (A take-home folder every single night! The packing of the lunch! The DAMN DROP-OFF POLICY!)

But you know what else? It's only been four days, but I think it's going to be a fun year. I can taste a little more freedom for myself, for writing and coaching and consulting and earning some money. I just started freelance writing on health and wellness topics for a company that provides web content to established sites, and I've got another essay coming up in a soon-to-be-published anthology about the challenges of modern motherhood, so life is looking rather exciting.

Except for the separation anxiety tear-fest that is currently The Beginning of Preschool for Genevieve (even though this is her second year in preschool). There is NOTHING exciting about breaking out in a total sweat while your four-year-old latches herself around your neck and wails so loudly in the nursery school hallway that the custodian in another wing of the building comes around the corner to check on the noise. Unless by "exciting" you actually mean "wondering if your underwear is showing as you're squatting all the way down to the floor in your dress and boots to hug your screaming child, who is drawing attention, perhaps to your underwear." But you probably didn't mean that.

Whew! And that was my week! How was yours?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

First Day of School!

Did you hear, I have a first grader now!

And We're Off.

Once again, I think the advice to incoming children posted on the wall for Back-to-School Open House last week is just as relevant to the moms sending their first babies off to all-day school for the very first time today:

"Advice to first graders (from last year's class)"

"It is fun once you get used to it."

"It is scary at first but be brave."

Did you get that, fellow moms of new first-graders? It is scary at first. But be brave.

Monday, September 06, 2010

So Long, Summer; Hello, Schedule

Yep, it's that time of year again. The time of year when I reluctantly face the fact that I can no longer get up when my kids happen to, leisurely drink coffee while listening to the news on NPR and watching my children eat breakfast with uncombed hair, and stay in my pajamas until after Sid the Science Kid.

Tomorrow it's back to school, and that means the early bus stop. And with that, I bring you a reprise of this post from last September during the first week of school. Remember this conversation?:

(Wednesday, September 09, 2009)

Me: Oh my goodness, I am NOT liking this business about having to be up, dressed, and appropriately groomed by 7:55 a.m. for the kindergarten bus stop.

Friend: What? YOU don't have to be ready for the day; only Julia does. You can go back inside and get ready after the bus leaves.

Me: No. I'm out there with my neighbor, who is always totally dressed and looking nice, obviously ready to start her day. I can't be out there at the bus stop in my pajama pants and bathrobe with uncombed hair and no makeup! You want me to be THAT mom?

Friend: I should be your neighbor! I'D be that mom, and then you wouldn't care about being outside in your bathrobe on the sidewalk with your neighbor!

Me: Ha! But you're not.

Friend: I guarantee, in one month you'll be over it. You'll be out there in whatever, coffee cup in hand.

Me: You're probably right.

Friday, September 03, 2010


Sheesh! Just realized the video clip below may not work for all of you. If you can't see the entire screen, go to this link instead and watch it for real. It's worth it. I promise.

Click here.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Mine Would Say, "Everything Will Turn Out Just Fine."

My friend Elise of The Snarky Squab just posted this video on Facebook, where I watched it and then was brought to tears (of course!). Oh my goodness. Please watch. If you are a mom, especially, you'll love this. If you're not, maybe it will give you a glimmer of insight into the partial insanity and overwhelming emotional experience of new motherhood. It's just so lovely and sweet. I especially loved the cards "You are about to meet true love" and "Be brave." And when I saw the one that said, "You will make mistakes", my brain immediately added, "....but the baby will still be okay."


Last night we attended a giant family outdoor movie party in the huge backyard of some local friends. They invited half the town (not really) and strung a sheet from their playset and showed "Alvin and the Chipmunks" once it got dark. Everyone brought blankets and camp chairs and all the kiddos wore their pj's. We ate popcorn and M&Ms and wrapped up in blankies and the kids got to stay up till 10 p.m.

And if THAT'S not a fitting (almost-) end to the Summer of Fun, I don't know what is. (Less fun: the red rings of welts Julia has around both eyes, Mosquito Bites From Hell from bugs that defied the ten doses of mosquito spray with which I doused her and all the rest of us too, to little avail.)

So. The Summer of Fun is clearly going out with a bang. (Thanks, wonderful and fun Organ family, for the awesome outdoor backyard family movie party!)

The other day I asked my girls what their absolute favorite part was about our Summer of Fun. They immediately answered "the ice cream shop in Minneapolis" (Sebastian Joe's, Linden Hills location), which proves that they are their mother's children. Because OF COURSE, right???

But then of course they kept amending their answers, adding, "Oh, and Popcorn Wednesday!" and "Friday mornings at the pool!" and "picking berries at the farm!" (Hmmm, do you notice a largely food-related theme?)

What's sweet and interesting but not surprising at all to any parent is how their favorite parts--the memories that jump immediately to mind when I ask them for the best of this summer--are mostly the small, simple, yet totally beloved little rituals and activities I did with them, not necessarily the biggest or most complicated special events. Popcorn from the old-timey cart on our town square every Wednesday afternoon. Toddler time at the city pool every Friday morning. Our farm-share pick up every other week. Children love rituals. Rituals make them feel special.

Which, of course, when you come right down to it, was exactly what the Summer of Fun was really all about.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Summer of Fun Killed My Hair

Sun, sun, and more sun. Frying my hair like an egg.

So I traumatized my hairdresser again the other day. Turns out that three months of fun in the sun isn't the best for your hair.

She practically shrieked when I sat down in the chair and she got a good look at my split ends. I felt a little validated that there was a good reason why, for the last two weeks, I have been unable to neaten the bottom edge of my hair no matter what product or heat-styling tool I used. Shauna held up the bottom three inches of my hair, which looked like a ragged stretch of dandelion fuzz, only straight and coarse and come to think of it more like a frayed old abused paintbrush, and gasped.

"What HAPPENED HERE?!" she yelled. Um....twelve weeks of spending nearly every day in the hot blazing sun for hours on end with my kids? Including three straight hours of the strongest rays every Friday morning at the pool?

Poor Shauna just about fainted.

Did you know that standing in the sun in the pool is just about the worst thing you can possibly do to your hair? Because not only is the sun blazing down on your delicate strands, but it is being reflected by the pool water?


Seriously, when I explained that for the entire summer--which has been outrageously hot and sunny--I routinely spent at least two hours outside in the sun with my daughters in the mid-morning, and then often another two or so outside in the sun in the mid-to-late afternoon, and then often another hour outside in the sun at about five p.m. for my run, Shauna was all, "Now these split ends make sense to me." I told her it was my Summer of Fun. She told me, "Not for your hair it wasn't."

Too bad the only true solution would be to cut off about three or four inches of hair. Which no doubt would have made my hairdresser very, very happy.

We compromised with about two inches. The rest will go the next time.

Hey, you know what, people? It was worth it. All those hours of frying my hair were hours I was living it up with my kiddos during the best time of year to be a stay-at-home mom, and we loved every minute. Many apologizes to my hair. And my hairdresser.