Monday, September 29, 2008

List 37.9: Things I would do with more Me Time

As with all the other lists, this is a momentary snapshot - not a comprehensive list. Try not to judge me too harshly by the pedestrian nature of it all...

10. More yoga (like more than ten minutes a day three times a week)
9. Work out! Lift weights, use the elliptical machines. I can jog with the girls but haven't done the gym thing with them.
8. Read more books.
7. Go tea tasting.
6. Do some linocutting and printing (the sharp linoleum cutting tools and lots of loose ink are not very conducive to working around the girls)
5. Window shop and actually go into some shops (I'm not saying I would buy anything but looking is always fun).
4. Browse for books.
3. Canvas for Barrack Obama
2. Get more massages (more than zero for instance)
1. Go to lots of libraries and peruse novels.

List 37.8: Things I would like to do with the family when the girls are older

This is just the stuff I can think of at 9:30 PM on a Monday night after several nights of insufficient sleep do to lots of baby wake-ups. This list is by no means exhaustive (exhausted, yes, exhaustive, no.).

1o. Go live in Mexico or Guatemala for three or four months and go to language school.
9. Rent a house on Priest Lake in Idaho for a week.
8. Go camping in as many national parks as possible.
7. Travel to as many places as possible.
6. Go stay in a yurt somewhere groovy.
5. Visit museums in Washington, D.C.
4. Volunteer on a regular basis for food share or some local gleaning group.
3. Go on a habitat for humanity vacation somewhere where we build houses for people who need them.
2. Go to Hawaii and rent a house and spend lots of time snorkeling and exploring.
1. Go camping in Big Sur.

Reminders: List 37.6 - Mitch and Me Things

I view this lists as little reminders of things that I liked to do before I had kids. Here's a list of some things I would love to have time to do with Mitch in some imaginary child free time. Keep in mind this is the public list.

7. Go climb Cathedral peak again or some other nice, simple, high Sierra climb.
6. Go snorkeling somewhere good.
5. Go see They Might Be Giants or some other kick butt concert.
4. Go canyoneering in Zion (as long as we could find a canyon that wasn't too claustrophobic - I'm not a big fan of confined spaces...).
3. Go on a bike tour in Canada or New Zealand.
2. Read books on the beach while Mitch goes surfing (not strictly a togetherness thing but the success of our relationship has some serious underpinnings in simultaneous, mutually satisfying yet different activities).
1. Plan and build our playhouse / guest house.

List 37.3 - Things I would do if I had an hour/day/week minus kids plus friends

While I thought before I had kids that I would be one of those people who regularly leave their kids with baby sitters and go off and do exciting adult things; and while I also thought I would be one of those people who is backpacking, throwing pots, and making oil paintings while carting around two small children; it turns out that I am actually not those people. I am actually a person who doesn't know any good babysitters except our friends and neighbors Seth and Elise. I am a person with at least one difficult child who, while incredibly charming and unique, also requires a fifty page manual to manipulate into doing things like brushing her teeth. I am a person who didn't go out that much before I had kids and now spends most of her time that isn't at work either doing kid-friendly activities or watching dvds of quality t.v. shows like the Wire. This is a good life and I'm not complaining (at least not too much). But this last weekend we went miniature golfing with our friends Sarah and Rick and their kids Jonas and Elliot and it made me think about things that don't really fit in with my current life. It was fun "golfing" but I spent most of the time chasing Lucy all over the course and recovering her putter and ball from the most recent point of abandonment. I think miniature golf has to go on the list of things to do with the kids once they are a bit older. This got me thinking about the things I would do if my fairy godmother came down and said, "Knock yourself out. I'll take care of the kids for an hour, a day, a week." So here is a list of some of those things. Don't expect to be wowed, most of them are petty and reveal what a shallow human being I am. This list is about things I would do with friends. I'll post some other lists of things I would do by myself, with my main man, or with my kids when they get older.

Friends Only List

10. Go to a book store and browse for a few hours.
9. Actually try on some items of clothing in a clothing store rather than run in, grab something that looks reasonable with the plan to return it if it doesn't fit or is ugly.
8. Spend a day wandering around in Santa Monica. I was there today for a meeting and it sure looks groovy.
7. Go to a spa with my gals and get a massage and then sit around in some hot tubs yukking it up.
6. Go hiking with my adult friends only.
5. Many people are going to groan at this one, but I would love to go to Ikea for a day and just wander around with my girl friends and look at stuff - no husbands, no kids, no one implying that a new blanket/stuffed animal/chair with a weird Scandinavian name is the last thing that we need in our house. No one to shatter the illusion that with these few choice items cleanliness and order would become the rule in my chaotic house.
4. Go to some sort of creativity boot camp where you knit, throw pots, paint, and write poetry all day long.
3. Lay on a warm beach reading books and occasionally going swimming.
2. Go snorkeling somewhere good.
1. Wander around somewhere interesting where you could actually go into shops, museums, restaurants, etc. and look around while having a leisurely stroll with friends discussing life, politics, and Sarah Palin's latest gaffs.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Last Swear Words Standing

As everyone who knows me knows, I have a terrible potty mouth. I think I told my future father in law to f-off while playing pass the pigs mere hours after meeting him. My mother-in-law actually gave a wonderful speech at our wedding where she discussed my swearing like a sailor and concluded by saying she loved me sh*tloads.

Well, since I started working in a real office for the federal government I have tried to curtail my swearing. I used to just swear on the weekends and try to refrain from saying even mild (in my opinion) words like shit at work. This was a pretty big challenge for someone who used to regularly use the f word. I actually say freaking now which is something that I used to make fun of people like Peter Hodum for saying (it seemed so Leave it to Beaverish at the time). There are only a couple of swear words that I still regularly use and that is crap and Jesus. A person still needs an expletive now and then for crap sake.

But now, even these little gems are going to have to go. Lucy now regularly says, "Jesus" with lots of drama. And the other day she said, "Where is all my crap?" I also say that she is being a pain in my butt, which she now also says. So now all of these things are going to have to go. Is this even possible? While I think it is hilarious when Lucy says this stuff, it probably won't be that charming outside of our house. Plus, I just picture her saying Jesus to a bunch of people who believe in Jesus and that's not very nice. Besides, it might even turn out that she will believe in Jesus. I don't want her to be the one with the atheist parents who gets blamed when someone tries to shoot the republican president (this actually happened to me. I got in a couple of dust-ups at school after all the kids said that my dad was the one who shot Ronald Reagan). If I don't want her to get into fights over Ronald Reagan, then it's probably best that she doesn't go around saying Jesus all the time.

So I will do my best to replace jesus with jeez, god with gosh, and crap with, well, I'll have to think on that one.

It won't be the last time...

Tonight, after Lucy dumped juice on herself in the van, and after the van's tire blew out, while we were waiting in a shell station for triple A to come and help yank off the damn bolts on the tire, while Lucy was mad that her shirt was wet and that I did not have another one, and while she was incensed that we were stuck in Thousand Oaks and not at home with her nuk nuks, she said,

"You are the worst Mama."

And I thought to myself, "well, this won't be the last time that I hear that one."

My Dream Library

I love libraries. I have always been a fan. I grew up going to the Pullman Public Library with my family at least once a week. When I was six (or maybe seven) years old I got lost walking home from the library by myself for the first time. My mom had walked me home several times and she had taken me to the library but she left me to walk home by myself as my first grand adventure. Unfortunately I got lost and had to be brought home by a local policeman who knew my mom and happened to drive by when I was bawling on the sidewalk.

When I was in middle school we made a little reading club (W.O.R.M.s - World's Only Reading Masters) that met once a month in the evening at the public library. It was great to be able to go into the library when no one else could. The library has always been a place of peace and quiet, endless stories, and a place where you can find anything out. I have library cards from libraries all over the place - Forks, Washington; Olympia, Washington; Davis, CA; Corvallis, Or. Everywhere I lived, no matter how temporarily, I immediately got a library card.

In addition to loving libraries, I also used to own a lot of books. When I was little I owned some books but mainly checked books out from the library. But while I was in college and graduate school, I started buying more books - both reference books and fiction. With school work and other socializing, it took me too long to get through a book to rely on the library (I don't remember to renew books and it took me more than the standard two weeks to work through whatever stack of books I came home with). Anyway, because of that book buying plus living in towns with good used book stores and book stores that sold remainders, by the time I finished graduate school I owned a lot of books.

Then I had a random moment in life where for about a month I thought I was going to move to Washington, D.C. in a u-haul trailer. At that point, I gave away almost all of my books. I decided that even though I loved them all, I seldom re-read anything and I just didn't have room to take all of these books across the United States with me. It turned out I never moved to the East Coast, but by the time I realized I wasn't moving, the books were already gone.

So now I have a modest number of books and I have an intermediate strategy where I buy some books but check some out from the library. I still have a tendency to give away my books after I have read them. One drawback of this is that I can't look around me and see everything I have read. And sometimes I forget books that I would like to remember.

Anyway, tonight while driving home from a party I heard Alberto Manguel on To The Best of Our Knowledge talking about his ideal library. His ideal library is full of dark wood and is made of stone and is fairly dark and foreboding. He actually built this library and lives in it. Anyway, enough about him.

My ideal library would have lots of light and windows and would be full of good nooks and crannies for reading. It would have tables where you could eat scones and drink tea (I know it's not good for the books but it's my library damn it) and lots of comfy over stuffed chairs - wing chairs and square chairs, rocking chairs, and mid-century ones too. It would have window seats and lots of tall wood shelves made of some light colored wood like pine or bamboo. It would have great views of a really beautiful outdoor scenery- preferably coniferous forest or a lake or the ocean - someplace where it rains a lot. No open prairie. The school library at Evergreen has a lot of the features of my ideal library except that the book shelves are mainly metal and you can't eat in it.

So that's my dream library. Until I have my dream library, I will just focus on keeping Mitch from piling little girl guitars, remote controls, and music sheets on the only six pristine shelves of books in our entire house...

Cheesecake Factory

Tonight at a retirement party for a friend, I had cheesecake from the cheesecake factory for dessert. I've heard people talking about the cheesecake factory (it seems like a popular place to go with our 20 something interns) but I have never been in one and I have never had one of their cheesecakes before now. The cheesecake was good enough (totally passable but no Scott Fischbein by any means) but as I was eating it I thought, "What does it say about our society that calling a restaurant a _____ factory is actually a viable marketing strategy?" I've only been to a spaghetti factory restaurant once, but once was enough.

What is it with these places? Why is calling a restaurant a factory a good idea? Factories bring images to my mind of mass production, endless sameness, uniformity, and mediocrity. It does not evoke images of quality, craftsmanship or that personal touch. In fact, factories are the last thing that I want associated with my food. Somehow in America, the image of ten thousand average cheesecakes rolling down a conveyor belt is just what the doctor ordered. Or was that eight billion plates of spaghetti...?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Out with the tomatoes, in with the lettuce

It is always sad to say goodbye to plants. Mitch does all the pruning around here because I am too much of a wuss and I get attached to all of my plants. I don't even like to cut them back. But this weekend I made the big move and yanked out our summer tomatoes. They were getting to the end of their run. All of their leaves were going yellow and the fruit production was slowing down. Plus I decided I wanted that third of our garden for some other things.

So now I have four different kinds of lettuce, broccoli (yes, can you believe it? I am going to grow broccoli), and edamame beans ready to go in the ground. We'll see if they all get eaten by bugs before we get to eat them. I got the plants on Friday but then we used up all of our planting energy planting half of the lettuce, edamame beans, and flowers at Lucy's school on Friday and I haven't had any time for gardening since. I hope to get everything in the ground tomorrow and in a few weeks we can go out front for our salad fixings!

First Presidential Debate - a Tie?

O.k., first off, I didn't get to watch the whole thing and when I was watching I was also listening to Josie and Lucy and feeding Josie and Lucy. So I wasn't the best observer. Still it seemed like they both did pretty well. Both McCain and Obama came off as intelligent people in my opinion. Which isn't any big surprise since they are both smart people. Of course, being a big Obama supporter, I thought his answers made more sense than McCains but overall, it seemed like a tie to me.

My biggest question is did my friend's Tiffany and Jason go to the debate since it was in their home town? Was it hard to get in? What was it like in person? Maybe Tiff will post a comment here and tell us all about it.

Christy and Josie both go to the Doctor

I'm not a big doctor person. Going to the doctor means being organized and making an appointment and then actually remembering the appointment. All of these things are challenging steps for me. But this week I actually went to see my GP about my possible asthma. He made me blow into a lung function thingy and listened to my lungs and said, yes indeed, I have mild asthma. He gave me some cortical steroids to inhale twice a day for a couple of weeks and a prescription for an inhaler. I have to go back in three weeks for a follow-up visit. Guess how they code a follow-up visit in my doctor's appointment book. You guessed it, f u. Well f u too I say.

On Thursday Josie goes to see Dr. Churchill yet again. Our pediatric urologist (who knew there even was such a thing) is seeing a lot of us these days. Josie gets her second ever VCUG. For those of you who don't have a child with kidney problems, a VCUG is a voiding cystourethrogram. It is basically a series of x-rays where they use a dye to look at what happens to liquids in your bladder when you pee. The question is, does any of the liquid backwash up to your kidneys through your ureter? Your pee is not supposed to go backwards - it is supposed to be a one-way process. We all have little valves where our ureters join our bladders that keep pee from going up and bothering our kidneys.

As you all probably know, Josie's plumbing is all messed up on one side (she has two ureters and they interfere with each other). We were initially told that the only way to fix this mess would be surgery. But now our pediatric urologist thinks it may have fixed itself somehow. On Thursday we will watch Josie pee through the magic of x-rays and find out if she still needs to have surgery or if she has cured herself.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Between the couch cushions

A month or so ago when Mitch was cleaning the giant yellow couch prior to selling it on Craig's List, he found an asthma inhaler. We have no idea who it belonged to. In classic pack rat mode, Mitch actually saved the thing. Well recent events have made me thankful for that bit of crazy stashing of things.

After Lucy was born I went through this 9 month or so period where every time I went running, I couldn't breathe and would hack up great chunks of phlegm for about an hour afterwards. It pretty much sucked but I was reluctant to go to the doctor. Finally it seemed to go away. Later I talked to a friend of mine who said that getting mild asthma post pregnancy wasn't that unusual.

Well come around to present day and the same thing is happening all over again post Josie delivery. Every time I go running (and mind you, I don't run very fast. Small children and elderly people regularly pass me) I treat myself to an hour of labored breathing and gross snot in my lungs. Mitch has mentioned several times that a sane person would see a doctor concerning such a thing. The other added twist is that now when I get a cold, it always turns into this ugly chest extravaganza where I have to sit up on the couch all night wheezing and worrying that I am going to suffocate before morning.

Just such an episode happened this weekend. I have round two of the cold that is going around (I already had the damn thing two weeks ago but now I have it again). Yesterday afternoon it became this debilitating chest thing where I nearly expired walking to the park. A friend of mine at the park who used to be a respiratory therapist said I looked like crap and needed to go to the doctor. She also asked if I was using my inhaler and I said, "what inhaler?" Things were getting pretty ugly around 6 PM and I was starting to consider going to the emergency room (why do these things always happen on a Friday after 5 PM) when I decided that using an unknown person's inhaler that expired in 2004 was a great idea. Who doesn't get their prescription medicine out of the couch cushions?

Yes, I am an idiot. Yes, I should have gone to the doctor ages ago. But at least I looked up albuterol on the web and found out that there is a pretty generalized dosage for people over 12. Anyway the good news is that the albuterol worked like a charm. Within seconds I could actually breathe. The crappy part was that I had to keep using the inhaler every four hours for the next 12 hours but now I feel a bit better.

I swear next week I am going to the doctor for real. But until then, thank goodness for the couch cushions.

It Turns Out that Hell is spelled F.O.U.R. A.M.

We made a big leap forward in the livability scale last night but boy was it a costly one. We finally moved Josie's crib into Lucy's room after a year of sharing our room with her and two weeks of Mitch and I sleeping on thermarests in the living room. We were worried that the move would disrupt Josie's new found ability to sleep solidly through the night without waking anyone up but we decided to forge ahead because both of us are tired of sleeping on the floor.

Well, it wasn't Josie that was distressed by the move. Despite months of advance warning and steady talking up of the idea, Lucy was none too pleased to have to share her palace with Josie. We managed to get through bedtime with no major hitches but Lucy woke up around midnight and started causing trouble. First it was the scary monsters (12:15 AM), then it was a sweater (1:30 AM), then it was the alligators (1:45 AM), then it was juice, "I WANT JUICE!!!!" (3 something AM). Finally around 4 AM I dragged her into the living room so that I could yell at her without waking up Josie. I gave Lucy some ultimatums (no Jungle book tomorrow if you don't shut up and go to sleep) while Mitch took Josie out of Lucy's room in anticipation of a giant Lucy screaming fit. I put Lucy back to bed and then she was quiet. She had won, Josie was out of her room.

Mitch and I had a mini parenting conference at 4:15 AM and decided that this wasn't good. So back into Lucy's room went Josie, with the added incentive to Lucy that if she was quiet and went back to sleep that in the morning Mitch would take her to store and she could pick out any stickers that she wanted.

Apparently, stickers weren't enough. Lucy started screaming at full decibel that she wanted juice. Then it degraded into screaming for Mama, and then just generalized enraged screaming. Josie amazingly slept through the ruckus for almost ten minutes and then it started. The loudest, most high pitched, incredible tandem screaming that our house has known. One of them would slack off and then the other would really shine through.

The only fortunate thing that a person can say about it is that it only lasted for about ten minutes. And then we were able to get in our three hours of sleep before Josie woke us up in the morning. Ah parenting. We're all looking forward to tonight, not.

Josie Turns 1, The blog makes it to 100

Lucy helps Josie open her present from Grandma Jo and Grandpa Jim

Lucy and Josie both like the cake, don't tell anyone that I didn't make it myself...

Josie had her first birthday on Tuesday this week. In an unanticipated turn of events, I would say that while Josie liked her carrot cake she wasn't as ecstatic about it as Lucy was about her applesauce cupcake on her first birthday. In general, Josie is much more of an epicurean than Lucy. Josie loves to eat and is particularly interested in eating whatever it is that YOU are eating whether that is pesto or pizza. Anyway, she liked her cake and hopefully she won't realize until she is forty that her cake was store bought while I made Lucy's. Chalk it up to eroding quality over time or maybe just relaxation of the momma worries by the time baby number two comes around. With Lucy I was concerned about letting her eat some store bought sugar fest. With Josie I was just happy that Mitch had time to go to the store and get her a special treat...Although we did still try to stay on the "healthy" side of cake with the perennial favorite, carrot cake.

In addition to cake, Josie had a nice bath and enjoyed opening her present from Grandma Jo and Grandpa Jim. She also enjoyed eating her cards from both Grandpa Tom and Grandma Sue and Grandpa Jim and Grandma Jo. I didn't bother to wrap the stuffed animals that we got her but instead let her play with the crinkly plastic bag that they came in (only under supervision, of course). All in all, it was a fantastic birthday. And it is still going. Her new wheely bug (a present from Grandpa Tom and Grandma Sue) arrived yesterday and I have promised Lucy that she and I will make applesauce cupcakes for Josie tomorrow.

On her first birthday, here is a list of some of Josie's many accomplishments:

- a generally sunny disposition (hey, this is a huge accomplishment in my book)
- lots of crazy noises that sound very conversational, although no actual words yet
- ZERO teeth but an amazing ability to eat anything despite the lack of chompers
- not one, but two marvelous cowlicks, one in front and one in back
- a total delight in bath time which involves lots of splashing, squealing and mayhem
- lots and lots of walking including on grass, sand, carpet, grass, and stairs
- baby signs for all finished and more
- great kazoo playing
- world's best lamprey (and still lampreying at a year old!)

We are very happy that she is kicking butt and taking names in this, her first year of life. We're looking forward to lots, lots, lots more.

And, in a neat coincidence, this is the 100th post for boomvang.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Scary Monsters or Dada?

Mitch was gone last weekend. He got home around 8:30 PM and Lucy heard the car pull into the driveway and was scared. She started crying and Mitch and I went in together to reassure her. When she saw Mitch she said, "DADA!! You're home!" We asked her why she was crying and she said she heard a scary noise. I told her the noise was Dad driving home in the car and she goes, "Ooohh." As I was leaving the room, I heard her say to Mitch:

"I didn't know if it was scary monsters or Dada."

This morning when Lucy came into the living room to wake us up at 7 AM, she glanced up on the wall and saw Mitch's shiny new silver guitar that he brought back from his recent trip:

"Hey! Nice guitar Dada."

Observant and an appreciator of fine guitars, Lucy is truly her father's daughter.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Despite the fact that Mitch and I currently replicate the 1950's model of a family where I go to work every day and he stays at home with the girls, I like to tell myself that I am almost equal to Mitch in my parenting time. I rationalize that I spend 3.5 days a week with the girls (I have three days off every weekend and I count all the after work and bedtime time as a half) while Mitch spends 4 days a week with them. Periodically, the reality of the situation makes itself apparent.

The reality is that Mitch spends 7 days a week with the girls and I spend three days a week with the whole family. We have many friends who parse the parenting equation by splitting the time with the kids between the parents so that each parent has significant alone time but Mitch and I like to hang out together on the weekends so we don't do much of the divided family thing. Typically on the weekends we all hang out together, all four of us. We do take turns in the mornings so that one of us can sleep in but that is only a couple of hours each day. Otherwise, if we do divide up, one of us takes one of the girls and the other one takes the other.

Having two kids and one adult is a whole different universe than two adults and two kids or one adult and one kid. Maybe it is just that I am inherently a more disorganized person than most (very possible) but for sure in our family, the only one who has down the multi-kid routine is Mitch. He has developed all sorts of complex systems to support and facilitate the sole parent gig. When I go out on my own with both girls I typically mess all these systems up. Not on purpose (as he sometimes thinks) but more because I can barely make it back alive, let alone make sure that the sippy cups are in the sippy cup pocket and the socks are where they belong. When I come back from the store or the beach or the playground, I feel happy to have returned without losing one of the kids or deliberately killing them or giving one of them away. Ask me where the formula ended up or where the empty bottle is and I have no freaking idea. (much to the endless frustration of Mitch).

Mitch has been gone all weekend and I must say that I am pretty pleased with myself for all the things the girls and I have gone out and done. We went to school together. We went to the beach together. We went to the mall and played and looked for new socks for Lucy. We've been having a good old time. And I think I didn't even lose any bottles, socks, or shoes or leave any banana peels or dirty diapers in the van (Mitch will be so proud), although there was that whole incident with the seagulls eating our cookies...

As both Lucy and Josie each get a little bit older, the whole double kid gig gets just a little bit easier. I'm still looking forward to Mitch coming back tonight (both because I like him and because he can lay the smack down on Lucy when she gets out of bed for the tenth time at bedtime).

Two is definitely more than one and as much as I like to think differently, and as much as I am invested in the girls to the hilt, Mitch is still the professional around here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Visiting Inconceivable

Did you know that I am currently living in Kentucky with my mom and dad?

This weekend as we were driving around in the van after running errands, Lucy started asking us whether dinosaurs would eat us. We tried to explain that dinosaurs aren't around any more at which point she wanted to know where they went and when they were coming back. The whole conversation made me realize how mind bogglingly weird it is to think that there actually used to be 60 foot tall lizards walking around, right here, but now they are all gone. It sounds insane. Needless to say, Lucy wasn't having any of it and we ended up having to tell her that dinosaurs wouldn't eat us because they had to go home to their mom and dad and that they lived far away (I believe I suggested that they lived in Kentucky since this seemed like a state we are unlikely to visit any time in the near future).

Then today I had the privilege of attending the funeral of a science teacher who had worked for our park for fifteen years as an education specialist. I barely overlapped with Arnie Miller in my job. Soon after I started with the park, he retired. I do remember a couple of meetings with him to discuss the education programs at the park and I remember being impressed by his passion, knowledge, and dedication to science education. I went to the service today both because I remember Arnie fondly even if I didn't know him well but also because he was an integral part of the Division of Interpretation for 15 years and I am the Acting Chief so it seemed like a good thing to do.

The service was amazing. Arnie's whole family actually got up and talked about him and what a wonderful person he was. The temple was full of people who clearly loved Arnie and had been touched by his life. Many people talked about how much Arnie had loved nature, what a wonderful teacher he had been, and how devoted to his family he had been. Some of the descriptions of him (curious about everything, great listener, great conversationalist, extremely tolerant human being) reminded me of my own parents. Anyone who thinks communism isn't all bad but that extremism of all kinds is dangerous is o.k. in my book.

There are several things I wanted to say about this experience from my perspective. First, it was the first funeral that I have been to since I had my own kids and having kids put a whole different color to the service. It made me think about how my own children will think about me when I die and reminded me to strive to be a good parent to them and fill their lives with good memories that will be a comfort to them after I am dead.

Second, one of the things that people said about Arnie was that he never said anything bad about anyone. And I thought, "Wow, that is amazing. That is something to strive towards - putting less negativity out into the universe." One of Arnie's grandsons also mentioned that Arnie's last advice to him was "Stay close to nature. Enjoy nature. Stay close to your family. And forgive any bad things that have happened in your past." Sounds like pretty darn good advice.

Finally, one of the last parts of the funeral was the actual placing of dirt on the coffin at the cemetery. And let me tell you, this was no symbolic small scattering of a few particles of sand, this was hefting of full shovels full of heavy dirt onto a wooden coffin. It made an amazing spooky sound. It turns out that helping to bury your loved ones is actually a Mitzvah (a command from God) and was one in which most of us took part (I hefted my three shovels full of earth into the grave). And it is very serious. The family actually stayed behind after the ceremony to finish burying Arnie. It was extremely intense and was a VERY visceral confirmation of the temporariness of all things. Somehow the sound of that dirt hitting the coffin really drove home the reality that Arnie's body was in there and that all of us would end up, one way or another, in the earth.

If you know me, (and you probably do since I doubt anyone that doesn't know me is reading this) then you know that I have big issues with death. Primarily that I would prefer not to, die that is. Somehow this funeral, coming so close after my dinosaur discussion, just emphasized that human life is full of inconceivable truths. No wonder people believe all manner of crazy things when you think about all of the inconceivable things that are actually TRUE. You mean dinosaurs used to roam the earth? No way. You mean people have actually walked on the moon? No way. You mean I, and everyone I know and every living thing I have encountered will one day cease to exist? No way.

Dinosaurs and Death. It was an interesting visit to the Inconceivable, but I wouldn't want to live there.

Sleep Draining...I Mean Training

Me yell all night long? Never...

Our children are mirror opposites of each other: Lucy is a hellion all day long who takes careful managing and a doctoral degree in psychology just to get dressed and out the door but at night she typically sleeps like a rock and doesn't bother a person. Josie is happy go lucky all day long and is equally entertained by eating cheerios at home, eating sand at the park, or eating carpet lint at school but at night she is hell baby who wants constant hand holding, rocking, and shushing just to get through until dawn.

Despite our enjoyment of all the Josie cuddling and even the sweetness of rocking her to sleep, watching her sleep, or having her rolling around in our bed from 3 AM until 6:30 AM, we finally decided it was time to bring out the smack down (as our friend Kyle says, "when the going gets tough, SMACK DOWN!"). We have tried various methods to enhance Josie's sleeping capabilities. To be honest, it is basically inconceivable to us that Mitch and I could have a child who is not a good sleeper. We both LOVE sleeping and are insanely good sleepers (fire alarms? no problem. urban noise? no problem. crying cats? no problem). I think we were both in denial that we would actually have to do something to get Josie to be a better sleeper, secretly we were both thinking she would grow out of it. Which sounds perfectly reasonable until you talk to some of our friends whose daughters are 7, 9 or 11 and who still sleep in their parents beds...

So we tried to let Josie cry it out a month or so ago. She seemed too stressed (after an hour of crying) and we caved. Mitch tried the no cry sleep solution (which our friend Becca calls the no sleep cry solution) but I couldn't implement a method that repeatedly asks one to risk not getting your child into a solid sleep by cutting out one or more of your eight gajillion sleep routine activities. Me, I'm either in or I'm out. I'm either going to soothe that baby so much that she won't wake up if world war III starts or I am going to sit in the living room and do nothing while she screams her lungs out. There's no in between for me.

So we started letting Josie cry it out on Saturday night. The method we are using is from some funky 1980's book by some guys who actually work at a place called the Crying Baby Institute (it sounds like a joke, doesn't it?). The CBI is at an actual university, even if it is one that you've never heard of (I've never heard of it anyway). It is a slightly harsher version of the Ferber method that seems to work on hard cases who will cry forever (like Josie). We let her cry for five minutes, then a quick check with no soothing. Then we let her cry with quick checks every 20 minutes until she falls asleep.

The first time we tried it was a nap time and she cried for an hour and then we let her get up (no nap). That night she did o.k. with a 25 minute crying period at bed time, following by lots of waking up but only one hour long episode at midnight that required quick checks. Although I must say she was clearly pretty darn peeved about the new system (picture her yelling for hours in baby language, "WHERE IS MY CUDDLING???? WHERE IS MY HAND HOLDING? WHAT THE @!**@!! IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE??? I'M AWAKE IN HERE - BY MYSELF!!! DO YOU NOT HEAR ME???") Last night she actually slept through the night after one quick check at 10 PM.

It is still pretty hellish. We're sleeping in the living room (to give Josie peace and quiet in our room). Lucy is waking up repeatedly at night because she has a cold and also because she wants to experience the novelty of everyone camping out in the living room.

Considering that sleep deprivation almost had me crying in the mall at lunch time on Sunday because they only had one piece of cheese pizza left (when I needed two - one for me and one for Lucy), all I can say is that if some heinous turn of events results in the McCain Palin sideshow being elected and then Palin ends up as President, I hope either that her child is a hell of a lot better sleeper than mine or that she doesn't feel about nannies the way she feels about personal chefs.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bath time

Who Are You This Time?

In a political race that just gets nuttier and nuttier, we now have the republicans, the incumbent party, in control of the Congress and the presidency for at least 6 of the last 8 years, now claiming to be the agents of change. John McCain's acceptance speech last week referenced himself and his policies as a whole new deal and as a team of Washington outsiders. The idea that an individual who voted with George Bush 90% of the time and who is a career politician is now trying to package himself as an agent of change and someone outside of the beltway is ridiculous. The only thing more outrageous is that some people are actually buying it.

Yes, John McCain used to be an independent thinker who worked across party lines. But since that stance got him exactly nowhere in the 2000 presidential campaign, he has been cuddling up to his parties base ever since.

This whole find a woman and start talking about change strategy feels like republicans trying to dress up in democratic clothing. I'm offended that they aren't actually focusing on what they really have going for them instead of trying to pretend to be something they are not. Why not focus on McCain's experience, his honest passion, his knowledge of foreign affairs and military strategy? Why not pick a running mate who would compliment these skills and bring another experienced mind to the table? Instead they are trying to take hold of what is working for Barack Obama, the idea of new blood in Washington and a change in America.

I find the whole republican strategy offensive and bewildering. Not surprising since I am, in fact, a democrat.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Weekend Update: San Diego Generosity

We had an awesome weekend visit to San Diego. The trip down was hell (drive should be 3 hours, took 5 hours, you read between the lines). We got to see all of our great friends who, as always, amazed us with their wonderful generosity, great conversation, funny commentaries, and general good peopleness. Our friend's Becca, Rob, Ava, and Max let us stay at their house and cooked us many great meals. Our friends Tom and Allie and Tim and Caitlin made lots of time for hanging out with us, brought over lots of great food, Caitlin did her cooking for crowds magic, and they made me MARGARITAS!! Allie cooked us an awesome barley stew and some kick ass cobbler that we ate with ice cream when we got home. And get this, Ava, who is only three (almost 4) actually gave Lucy one of her prized toys (a stuffed dog) when Lucy left. Lucy is now obsessed with the thing and carries it everywhere.

It was a blast to see everyone and get in so much hanging out time. We really appreciate how flexible all of our friends are and how much they tolerate our flaky nature, our kid-existence restrictions, and my constant need for naps. A great time was had by all. Big thanks to all of our SD buddies.

Touch Me I'm Sick

One of the odd things about tiny kids is that they often don't feel good but they seldom tell you that they are sick. In general, at least with our kids, what typically happens is that they act even more beastly than usual and just when you think to yourself, "Hmmm, maybe now IS the time to put Lucy by the side of the road with a for sale sign on," you take her temperature and find out that it is 103. (then of course you feel guilty for giving her ten thousand time outs when what she really needs is some ibuprofen and some orange juice...)

Since I often share sippy cups, snacks, juice, yogurt, and everything else with both Lucy and Josie, I typically get whatever they have. Having your kids sick with the same thing that you have (or being a day or two ahead or behind) is an interesting psychological experiment. I find myself feeling crabby with a sore throat and then all of a sudden I notice that Lucy is having a temper tantrum every ten minutes. Or, for example, yesterday I was very tired and crabby all day long. I came home and had a great time watching Lucy and Josie actually play together nicely for an hour or so. But come bed time, I found myself having to hold Josie's hand every hour all night long while she crabbed it up. And I was thinking, "I am going to have to go sleep in the garage and let this needy hell child cry it out." But guess what? Today I woke up with a snotty nose and sore throat. So who do you think probably had a sore throat and felt cruddy all last night??

Just when I am ready to give my children away and return to an existence where the only creatures dependent on me have fur and can be left outside, it turns out that we are all just a little bit sick and some vitamin C and extra rest will make the world a livable place again...

NBA not in session

One of the excellent side benefits of a presidential election occurring outside of the NBA regular season is that Mitch is searching for things to read about obsessively on the internet. Typically I am a much bigger political junkie than Mitch who thinks that all politicians are liars and crooks regardless of political affiliation. Thus it is usually difficult for me to engage Mitch in lengthy discussions of the evil doings of this or that politician.

Now that we have the Barack Obama versus John McCain battle going on and no basketball to distract, Mitch is actually interested in politics. I know it won't last and that is fine. But it sure is fun to have someone on the home front (other than my dad) to discuss politics with.

By the way, just to clarify, this is, of course, an extreme simplification of Mitch and his world view on politics and all other things. But it is true that he is more interested in this presidential election than in other recent political goings-on and it is true that I am greatly enjoying his knowledge, interest, and commentary.

You are just TOO crafty

So the old white guy has added a hot woman to his ticket. Crafty, crafty, crafty. Now we have African-American and old white guy versus old white guy and woman. It does make the playing field in the making history department a little more even. Although I must say that a novel PRESIDENT is worth more points in the history department than a novel vice president. Now is there anyone on earth who thinks that the republicans would ever have chosen a female vice president if the democrats didn't have an African-American presidential candidate? They are crafty, crafty, crafty.

I'm not so sure about Sarah Palin though. Let me just lay all my personal baggage on the table here. Let me get into the petty. Who has five kids in today's world? Especially in America? I hope they are all environmental innovators or champions for peace and justice, or else Sarah Palin owes the world (yes, I am living in my glass house of two kids and throwing some big stones. I said I was going to be petty and baggage laden). And what about those Congressional earmarks? And what kind of a name is Trig (isn't that an abbreviation for Trigonometry? As much as I liked that class I still wouldn't name my kid Trig.). And, no matter how much I am for do-it-yourselfness, I would rather pay my highly paid governor to work a few hours at home in the evening on important government issues rather than have her making home cooked meals because its too white-collar to have a chef (can I have her chef? Mitch is getting tired of cooking all the meals and there is only so many times that a person can have tofu dogs or frozen pizza for offense to Mitch - you don't see me lifting a finger in the kitchen for cooking OR cleaning during the week).

I'm just not sure about young Sarah as a vice president. I applaud her achievements. It is amazing that she is a state governor at 44. It is amazing that she is a mom of five and still does all of her professional work. Clearly she is kicking butt and taking names. But she does seem to have made some dubious choices in the political arena (and Trig, really?) such as being anti-choice, getting lots of money in earmarks (although that is what politicians do, but it is hard to claim to be against them when you have worked so hard to get a lot of political pork yourself), and perhaps suggesting that your staff might want to have your nasty ex-brother-in-law fired.

I'm just saying interesting person with great achievements, but vice president??? I don't think so.

P.S. Is it just me or does she look too much like a hot glasses model? I just have this feeling that she was not a nerdy ugly duckling kid with glasses... Does she even need those things or are they a prop to give a more studious look?

P.P.S. And if you really think that women who voted for Hillary Clinton are going to now vote for John McCain because he has a female vice president, then you are out of your freaking gourd. No amount of ovaries can overcome anti-choice, nutty political party affiliations, and a whole slate of entirely right wing points of view. Need I remind you that Hillary Clinton is a DEMOCRAT?