Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't be a poser.

Friday afternoon before leaving for a fabulous weekend that included hanging with great friends, cheering on the Black Knights and exploring the most incredible Storm King Art Center, I took Dempsey for a short run. I squeezed this in between wrapping up work and packing up the van. When changing into running wear, I grabbed the first shirt I found.

It was a glorious fall day. There were lots of people out. I said hello to all of them because that's what I do. I said hello to a man, about my dad's age, pushing a stroller with a little girl, about my son's age. For all of this familiarity, I gave him an extra big smile. He gave an even bigger one back.

Man with baby: "How 'bout them Mets?"
Huh? Mets? Oh ... my shirt.

Me: "I know, right?"

But I did not know. Despite my shirt (which my sister, a die-hard Mets fan, bought me because most people in my family, and all of the people in the one I married into, love the Mets), I don't follow the Mets. At all. Last I knew, the Mets were not so good. But I'd heard that about four years ago. For all I knew, they could have won the World Series this year.

For the rest of my run, I wracked my brain for things I know about the Mets. Here was the list I came up with (on 9/16):

  1. In my lifetime, I have attended two Mets games. There, I drank beer and ate nachos.
  2. I used to live a short jog away from Shea Stadium.
  3. Shea Stadium no longer exists.
  4.  Mike Piazza--with the interesting facial hair--used to be the team's catcher.
  5. Some supposedly attractive man named David (it took me the rest of the run to remember that his last name is Wright) still does. I think. 

Things I NOW (as of 9/19) know about the Mets, David Wright and the World Series:

  1. David Wright indeed still plays for the Mets. Third base. (Source: Jon Olin) Want to know more about David Wright? He's from Virginia. He's a Sagittarius, like me. And... if he didn't become a professional athlete, he would have become an engineer. Jon Olin might argue the opposite is true for him.
  2. The Mets did not win the World Series this year. Nor do they do have a chance at winning the World Series this year when it actually happens (Source: Jon Olin)
  3.  This year, the World Series will commence on 10/19. So that no games will be played in November. (Source: Wikipedia)

Moral of this story: Don't be a poser. But if you're going to be a poser, use it to find out when the World Series is. Because, come on, shouldn't every American be required to know this?

Question for you: Ever get called out?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

People dig my rat face.

My mom hates it. Jon despises it. But I can't stop making my rat face. It's really ugly. And I will find you a picture - just not right now. I don't have one on this computer. I'm not sure when my rat face was born: I think maybe in junior high...

I don't get requests to make the face often. But yesterday, my 9-year-old niece Anna asked me to do my rat face while we were playing mini golf in Glens Falls. (I happily obliged.) Then, today, when I was asking friends (on Facebook) to help me find a photo for a magazine's contributors' page--one that did not involve me squished against one of my children, holding an alcoholic drink, wearing sunglasses, etc.--my friend Ronda jokingly said she'd dig up a photo of me making my rat face at Allegheny's on-campus coffeehouse where we worked together. Two rat-face requests in one day! (Yeah, okay, one's technically just a reference.) "People dig my rat face," I proudly told Jon. He rolled his eyes and walked into the other room. 

This (me on the R) is much, much prettier than the rat face.
Now that I think of it, I believe my rat face began as most of my faces do - when someone asked me to pose for a picture. I hate having my photo taken. I feel self-conscious. I start thinking too hard about my smile: is it too gummy, too fake, too crazy? My checks start twitching. So I act goofy. I have lots of photos of me sticking my tongue out, crossing my eyes, etc., etc. In fact, when Jon proposed, he set the timer on our camera so that he could capture this milestone moment. He ended up pulling it off and we have an awesome shot--of his sixth attempt at a photo. Apparently, even back then, he knew it'd take me a few rat runs before I'd get serious for a picture. He wisely waited through them before dropping down on one knee and going for it.

Do I make ridiculous faces so that I can say, oh, I don't look good in that picture because I was trying to look bad (maybe, this 2008 story from the Times of London suggests)--or is just because I'm silly? Hmm... I think it's mostly because goofing off is far more fun than feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious.

For you to answer: What do you do when someone points a camera at you?
For you to ponder: The value of rat-face celebrity photos to paparazzi. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fresh starts are invigorating.

Happy September 1! I love the fall. The air smells great. The light looks pretty (think: ambient lamps versus overhead CFLs). For me, the sensory experience of fall is so awesome that, during the months of September and October, I can run more than 3 miles sans music and not feel like I'm going crazy.
Then there's the fashion. I prefer tights and boots to shorts and tanks any day. (Need inspiration for fab fall fashions? Check out LOFT's The Now campaign--spearheaded by my bestie HT!) But the thing I like to shop for most in fall? No doubt: School supplies. (Yes, I'm 35. No, I do not go to school.) Check out this sweet new "Tomorrow" planner I just ordered from Poketo, on a recommendation from Daily Candy:

How to fill in the sentence "Tomorrow _______"? ... "is a new day."
Or "is another day." Hmm... I think #2 is more inspiring and Zen.

For me, new school (okay, office) supplies represent a new start: a clean slate, another chance to commit to things that "improve my performance" (wow, that sounds really ambitious in print, doesn't it?),  things that make me happier. And while I don't have data from a clinical trial to prove it, I suspect that this phenomenon has his some sort of genetic basis. Jules started preschool on Monday. It's at the same place as his "daycare" with many of the same friends and teachers. But the little guy is in so many ways mini version of me (but with blond hair, blue eyes and, um, boy parts) and this new start seems to have motivated milestones--potty success!--and increased independence all around. Today, he dressed himself, topped off his outfit with a baseball hat, grabbed Kai by the hand and ordered, "It's time to go, Kai." When Jon tried to help him with his backpack--daycare is a drive away, so Jules wears it just to walk to the car (love!)--he shooed him off, saying, "I got it, Dad." Dad.

Anyway, today I'm starting a list of fall resolutions. My top 3:
1. Wake up earlier.
2. Run 3 times a week and get back to the weekend long runs that empower me to sign up for a 1/2 marathon (okay, a 10K) at any time.
3. Prep as much of the next-day's dinner as possible the night before. (Or simplify and plan to serve healthy dinners that take, like, 5 minutes to make. Whole-wheat raviolis...)

Now. Do I start my new planner today--or wait until my old one runs out in December? And do you have any New (School) Year Resolutions?


PS: As I occupy this blog with trivial musings, so many people here in Vermont and elsewhere are struggling with new starts forced by Irene. Donating to the American Red Cross is a great way to help. Or Text FOODNOW to 52000. The Vermont Foodbank will help turn your $10 donation into $60 worth of groceries for local families in need. (This was the first time I've ever donated via text. It. Is. Awesome.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Using your children as an alarm clock has limitations.

With two young boys in the house, there's little danger that Jon or I will sleep beyond 6:30 a.m.  In fact, our typical wake-up call is even earlier, sometimes around 5. So what's the point of setting an alarm? Today, I learned--admitted, really--that there are several benefits of beating your kids awake. (And by that I mean waking before them, not slapping to rouse them from their slumber.) Here are my top three:

Time to shower. For people like me who mostly work from home, a shower, one might argue, is optional. Generally, I am not one of those people. Getting doused with water in the a.m. wakes me and makes me feel normal. But in getting the boys out the door, I often don't have time to shower, so I take the boys to daycare looking like, well, I just rolled out of bed. Because I did. When I come home, I don't shower then either. I convince myself that I have too much work and that I'll shower after I run. But then... I convince myself that I have too much work to run. Or shower. Boys come home. I've not showered. This is not good for morale.

Time that could be used to, say, unload the dishwasher. Or something like that. No one who knows me well would EVER describe me as a neat. (But I AM organized). Still, a certain kind of chaos makes me crazy. I'm not sure where to look or what to do next. Here's a photo of a corner of my kitchen. It's just the tip of a very messy "iceberg."

Yes, that's a disposable camera with film.
What is it doing up there on the shelf? Good question.

Clean clothes. Actually. I have a lot of clean clothes right now. In baskets all over the house. Because I'm waiting to put them away. You see, we're leaving again this weekend and I'll put them away when I pack. Perfectly logical, no? Also, I need to switch out the boys' clothing: In Julian's drawers are size-2 cords. He wears size 3 and it's summer (read: we haven't worn corduroy since, oh, March), which means... WE'VE BEEN LIVING OUT OF BASKETS FOR MONTHS.

Writing this is actually making me feel like horribly unorganized, but I will say this: yesterday, after work/school, I played baseball with Jules and tried to teach him how to stand up from a somersault without using his hands. Kai and I sang songs and danced. After the boys were in bed, I had a glass of wine with two friends. I chatted with my dad on the phone. This morning, both boys were dressed in clean, matching clothes appropriate for the chilly weather when I dropped them at school--where I leisurely helped them settle in and put away their healthy, homemade lunches.

I hope that my boys will look back and say, "Yeah my mom worked a ton but she played with us all the time and took good care of us." Will I feel like I've failed if they add "And she was a total slob"? Maybe. But I think waking up 30 minutes before they do is going to solve all of my problems. (Half full perspective here... )

So. Anybody have a great rec for a super cool-looking alarm clock that will charge my iPhone?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Losing your Grandpa is really, really sad even if he lived a long and healthy life.

This morning, my Grandpa Patsy passed away. He was 95. He was a smart, funny and kind man.  He grew impressive gardens. He never forgot a name, a face--or a good hunting story. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather (who needed three hands to count his great-grandchildren). He drank his coffee with lots of sugar and loved animal crackers as well as macaroni. Randomly, what I'm remembering at this particular moment is how, when I was a little girl, he used to "carve me sticks" (shave the bark off of small branches with his pocket knife) and give me peppermint gum. Love you, Grandpa Patsy!

August 2010: Kai meeting Grandpa Patsy (Papoo). 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Our maxivan is supersafe.

Today, I discovered that our Toyota Sienna is one of the safest cars on the road. (Well maybe not ours. I doubt I'm one of the safest drivers on the road.) SUVs generally prevailed, but the Audi's A6 topped the list too.

Sweet Ride (shot by Jules)

Safety is just one reason to love the Swagger Wagon. Here are a few more:

1. I can use it transport half of EatingWell's editorial team to our off-site meeting next week. Literally: Half.
2. It came with Sirius/XM. And they forgot to turn it off. Shhhh....
3. The power doors.
4. This video.

But it's bittersweet love... I also must consider these drawbacks:
1. I've taken out our garbage cans three times. (And maybe there was this one rearview mirror of someone else's car....but it was fine. Really.)
2. Gas $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
3. The power doors. Once, I left both sliding doors open for about 40 minutes while I dropped the boys off at daycare. I came back to find someone sleeping in the backseat. Kidding! (But only about the sleeping person.)

So. Tell me: Do you kinda want a maxivan now too?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I need a system to help me stop losing things.

My car keys had a starring role in my morning today.

It started with this observation: Black Escape behind silver Swagger Wagon. Must find Ford keys.

Search bag, search pockets of yesterday's jeans. Nope. Nope. Check key holder near telephone. Bingo. (Why would they be there?)

Why, hello, Car Keys. I've been looking all my life for you.

Keys in hand, Jules and I shuffle off to school, leaving Jon and Kai (who has a fever) at home.

7:50: We arrive. I remove keys from the ignition. I leave my bag in the car and, given that I have no pockets, carry my keys.
7:52: Stop by the baby room to say Kai won't be coming in. Keys in hand (I think).
7:54: Walk to "Caterpillar" room. Keys in hand (I think).
7:55-8:00: Restock diaper bin, chat with Julian's teacher. Kiss Jules goodbye.
8:00: Uh oh. Where are my keys?
8:01: Check his outside bin.
8:02: Check his lunch box (in the fridge)
8:03: Check the waistband of my skirt (who knows?)
8:04: Walk to baby room. Check Kai's bin. Check the floor.
8:05: Check the bag used to transport the diapers. No dice.
8:06 - 8:07: Pace between the two classrooms rechecking the bag.
8:08: Check the American Eagle mailer inside the diaper bag (um, why is it there?) containing the jeans I ordered majorly on sale that do not fit at all even though I currently have three pairs of AE jeans in this same size. Annoying. BINGO. (Why would they be there?)
8:09: Head out of the center.
8:10: Walk back into the center. Need to leave the bag so I can bring Julian's stuff home.

Sheesh! Yesterday, after getting my hair cut, I spent 6 minutes emptying my entire bag on the back bumper of my car--again, looking for my keys--while the guy parked next to me made fun (nicely). Once I found them, I realized that I'd forgotten my coffee cup on the front desk inside the salon.

WTF is going on? Well, there's a lot going on--work... travel... boys... one of them, sick... and according to this fascinating article that fellow science writer Gretchen Voss wrote originally for Women's Health magazine, stress messes with your memory.

Guess I need to chill out. And, in the meantime, figure out a system for keeping track of my keys.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I REALLY need to buy new bras.

Today as Julian and I were playing "I'll go to sleep and you play the drums," (Huh? click the link...or don't... it's Bert and Ernie) he bumped my coffee. It spilled all over me. It wasn't hot, not even close. And I didn't really care about my shirt. Most everything I wear around the house (or on weekend days in general) is stained. My boys use me as a napkin and a tissue; plus I'm a slob myself. What irked me was that I was wearing the one clean bra that fits me.

This silly little monkey spit coffee all over me this morning.

First of all, we have a chronic problem with keeping up with the laundry 'round here.

Second, I've been knocked up or nursing for the last four years. Meaning: for nearly half a decade, my breasts have either been huge--or contained by nursing bras. The last time I wore a normal, normal-sized bra, it was 2007. Problem #1: I cannot find this stash of old bras. (Even if I could find them, they might not fit anymore, according to this article on WebMD.) Problem #2: The ones I wore while pregnant would fit several sets of my current-sized breasts. So my half-assed, lame and lazy solution is this: I continue to wear nursing bras, thinking that someday I'll find the time to go shopping for new ones. The bra I was wearing when doused with coffee was a nursing bra. That fit. And was clean.

Now I'm wearing a sports bra--and doing laundry. The good news: I've got a girls' weekend coming up and, coincidentally, we're all taking our "girls" to visit Linda The Bra Lady "a world-renowned bra-fitting expert." (Thank you, HT, for knowing I needed this more than I ever guessed I might!)

What's the thing you really need to find time to do?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

...that Jon and I may need to work on our communication skills.

Yesterday, I sent Jon an email that said, "Dude. We need to put an AC in this office, stat." 

Backstory: Jon built me a kick-ass home office in our garage (sounds sketchy but it's the nicest room in our home). It has a skylight and nearly a full wall of big windows. From June through October, it gets hot. Really hot. Yesterday, the thermostat registered 92 degrees. It was only about 75 outside.

Last night, Jon had a softball game. He came home late, after the kids were in bed. He told me he'd gotten me an air conditioner for my office. "Thanks!" I murmured... I heard him but didn't really hear him. 

Tonight, after I came down from putting Julian to bed, I heard someone sawing in the garage. I figured Jon was, I dunno, cutting some wood to support some tomato plants. Or building some sort of trellis for string beans. I returned a phone call. I did some dishes. Jon went to the neighbor's house to watch some basketball. I went out to my office to find, um, this: 

It's a little like R2D2, no? (And, yes, I need to clean my office.)

Wow. He built a wooden "stand" so the vent would reach the window. He cut the extender thingy to fit the space (read: now we can't return the thing). He spent $400. He'd forgotten that we had a small AC that already fit into this little window. We just needed to put it in... 

He's fuming, poor guy. Good thing we have two suitable air conditioners (one rather large) to cool him off. 

Seriously: Any helpful words of wisdom out there? The poor guy is so mad at himself, and he was just being nice....

Friday, May 27, 2011

Today, I learned that I don't know WHAT the hell a barbecue is.

In my latest blog for EatingWell, I wrote about the "best" and "worst" food choices you can make at a BBQ if you're watching your weight. You know, with Memorial Day coming up and all. I know as well as the next seasoned blogger that if your entry lands on Yahoo's home page, as mine did, you're bound to have some haters who disagree with absolutely everything you have to say.

Is this what happens to your BBQ when everyone figures out it's not really a BBQ?

I expected the comments saying I was dumb and needed to go back to nutrition school because .... didn't I know that hotdogs will kill you? The ones that called me a big loser who ruins all the fun.  What I did not see coming were the loads of responses telling me that you do not serve hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salads and the like at a barbecue. You serve things like briskets and ribs.

Ohhh.... then, I guess I'm having a "cookout" this weekend?

What do you call a get-together that involves hanging outside and eating?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The other day, I learned some really cool things about slugs.

After work/school, Jules likes to look for "wormies," "sfiders" and whatever other critters are making their homes under the rocks that frame the flowers, and weeds, around our gazebo. The other day, we found a slug.

Me: How cute! It's a snail without a shell.
Jon: It's a slug.
Oh. What's the difference? I was suddenly obsessed with slugs.

Jules (above) and I thought this guy was cute. Turns out, we're in the minority.

During my late-night "reporting" on this gastropod mollusc (thank you, Wikipedia), I learned that Jon is not the only person who dislikes slugs. Seems almost everyone does, mostly for two reasons (in no particular order): 1) they're slimy and 2) they destroy gardens. 

My search also turned up this fascinating article in The Daily Mail that gives slugs due recognition. In it, science journalist Michael Hanlon describes the slug as a "garden snail with bad PR" and paints slugs as the fascinating creatures they are. Here are the highlights of what I learned:

  1. Slugs really are snails without shells. And because they don't need the calcium to build a shell, they're found far more widely.
  2. Their feelers (what makes them cute to me) regrow if cut off.
  3. Slugs use slime to move (and stop!), to protect them from drying out and to "communicate" things like the whereabouts of food. They also use it as a sex-aid. No, not as lubricant. It keeps them stuck together while they're getting it on.
  4. Slugs are hermaphrodites (i.e., have both male and female sex organs). Straight from Hanlon's article: "Like snails, slugs are hermaphrodites, possessing both male and female sex organs. Mating slugs exchange sperm through their corkscrewshaped penis-like genitalia, and sometimes this process goes awry, the two animals locked in an amorous embrace. The only solution to the problem is a technique called apophallation  -  the chewing off of the other slug's penis using the same razor- sharp teeth with which the slug can decimate your cabbages. Having lost its penis, the castrated slug is then only able to copulate using its female organs." Wow.
  5. Slugs basically eat anything, including dead flesh.
  6. Gardeners battle slugs with salt (it dries them up), coffee grounds and beer. Some torch them. Sad.
He's cute, right? 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today, I learned that bribing your kid (or my kid, at least) to eat broccoli with spaghetti letters works.

Nutrition experts don't endorse bribing kids to eat veggies... and I'm not sure that making shapes out of spaghetti is setting a good example. But eating broccoli and learning the alphabet are, no doubt, good things. Am I right? 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today, I learned that it takes but a minute to post. Yesterday, I learned that my kid wants to be a dad.

Yesterday, I learned that my three-year-old would like to father many children. Here's how it all went down as I was driving him and his little bro to daycare.

Me (gesturing out the window): "That's a cool bike, isn't it?"
J: "Yes, I want to buy a bike like that. When I'm a daddy."
Me: "Cool. Do you want to have kids?"
J: "Yes. A lot of kids. This many." Then held up his right hand. He wants five kids.

When I shared this with his teacher, she told me that, the day before, his little friend had lifted her shirt and announced, "I'm pregnant. Two weeks." WTF?  Is it time for the sex talk already?