Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I have an interesting way of evaluating risk.

Newsflash—You shouldn't give this to your kid:

The glass. (Seriously? C'mon now.)

YOU go ahead and drink your wine out of a Ball jar (wine enthusiast friends: you might feel a little better to know what's in there is Three Buck Chuck). And you go ahead and use that photo-ready, budget-friendly juice jar to pack your yogurt parfait or that perfect portion of oats to make at work (both brilliant ideas of friends). Or screw on a Cuppow! and call it a trendy vessel for your green smoothie or iced latte. Bake preciously presented sweets in your Ball jars. But don't hand them to your 3 or 5-year-old who suffers restless leg-and-arm-and-hell-it's-the-whole-body syndrome. 

The first time I become aware of the dangers of Ball jars was via email—a note from Julian's teacher informing me that the 4 oz. glass jar in which I'd sent grapes, possibly even halved so he wouldn't choke (the ridiculous irony - he's FIVE), had broken. Jules was devastated because he thought I'd be mad. She'd sent the note so I'd make sure he knew I wasn't upset with him (man, I'd better lighten up if this is what he thinks). Really, what I think she'd really meant to say was this: "What the f*ck is wrong with you, sending glass jars in backpacks with a kindergartener?" But she's a super-nice person so she sent what she sent. With a smiley face—to make me feel better. Thing is, the dangers of glass shards hadn't even occurred to me. I've produced two magazine features on how BPA kills (or something like that) and, thus, have a complicated relationship with plastic. I shared this story with a (kidless but apparently far more sensible) colleague who nodded knowingly and, a few days, later handed me some stainless-steel canisters. (Thanks again, B!)

You'd think I would have learned from this lesson. But no. I've continued to give my children beverages in Ball jars, "tightly supervised," of course. So when Kai carried his water cup (glass Ball jar) with him from the table to the bathroom to brush his teeth last night, I thought nothing of it. When he set it on the back of the toilet so he could stand on the seat to look in the mirror while he brushed, I thought "gross." And when got into a tiff with Jules over who got to squeeze the toothpaste first and swept the glass to the floor with a flailing limb, I was all "oh SHIT" (silently and for that I give myself much credit) and whisked them both out of the room so I could clean up the scattered, shattered glass. I did a thorough job, I thought, with wet paper towels and all. I meant to go back to double vacuum after bedtime. I forgot.

Tonight, Kai, refusing to be corralled for bed, ran into the bathroom and wedged himself between the toilet and the wall (again... gross!)—then pulled out a bloody foot. Slashed, with a shard. We bandaged him up and he seems to be just fine. I'm a tad traumatized. Guilt-ridden.

So if you see my kids in the next few weeks, or months, or years, out, sitting at a fancy table sipping from stainless-steel water bottles, eating their halved grapes, you'll know what's going on: I'm overcompensating. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Angry runs have their place too.

I've written much about the therapeutic effects of a good run. The story usually goes something like this: I'm so anxious I'm about to explode, so I tie on my shoes and run away, music turned loud. I return refreshed, renewed and ready to rejoin the world.

But sometimes—on days when the stars and my brain chemicals clash in the worst of ways—the "run relief" story takes a slightly different shape. It's usually when I'm mopey and teary and snippy and snappy and Jon (bless his heart) basically sweeps the boys up and orders me to run. I don't want to go but I say "ok, 2 miles." Sometimes this compliance takes longer. Today, it took a while. And, today, because it is November and because, today, I hate November, I decided to run on the treadmill. I wanted to run by myself (sorry, Digs), in my dark grey basement. Sorta like listening to Elliot Smith to cheer you up when you're feeling down (ridiculous), it seems now as I write this. But we've haven't set up the treadmill yet and there aren't any outlets where anyone might expect them. Which PISSED ME OFF and made me ask myself, why did we buy this house anyway? I'm prone to overreact. Particularly on days like this.

So then I decided I would not run. I would clean. Until I looked at the piles of papers everywhere and got overwhelmed. I pulled out some yoga pants and the running shirt that makes me look like a speed skater--or a condom, depending on who you ask. I looked for any iDevice that had music and a charge. I snuck out the front door. (Sorry, again, Digs.)

I sprinted up the hill and cursed the neighbor who clearly needs a new invisible fence for her fierce-barking but friendly dog. Then, lungs burning, I slowed to my typical pace. I passed the home we bid on and lost, the perfectly situated house that looks especially fantastic on the outside. I realized I was being a complete ungrateful asshole and just kept at it. I cursed along with lyrics, aloud, until I realized that people were out raking leaves and I looked and sounded like a dangerous crazy person.

At the point where I could make a right turn and tack on another mile or so, I took the path lazily traveled, stubbornly refusing to give in to my body, which was saying, "keep going - you really should do a five-miler, today." I'd said two. And that's what I'd do. On the final stretch, I didn't feel euphoric. I felt itchy (literally), a little guilty for leaving Digs behind and sort of annoyed that I didn't keep going. But, on the bright side, the 20 minutes I'd spent stepping to the beat of Girl Talk had kept me from drinking, eating and saying things that I shouldn't.  And now, writing this, with a glass of lemon water leftover from last night's dinner—a delish tagine made by Olin—I feel grateful. Much better.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"What it is" is pretty great, really

Planned vs. Actual, Part I: 
Here's how I'd planned it: I'd wake up early and make a delicious breakfast - omelets with lots of veggies and roasted fingerling potatoes, from Pete's share. We'd hang out, rake leaves as a fam, then Jon would go for a long run with Demps. During this time, the boys and I would make thoughtful cards and lavishly decorate a Funfetti cake (not my choice but it's not my birthday) with leftover Halloween candy. We'd hang a birthday banner and balloons. Jon and the boys would toss around a football in the backyard while I prepped chili and pulled chicken for the birthday dinner/football game.

Here's what actually happened: Someone woke us up early to view his incredible candy collection. Then he played with his candy collection. Then he counted his candy collection. Then he added to his candy collection by stealing all of his brother's candy. Drama ensued. Trying to preserve a peaceful birthday for Olin, I scraped up the children, grabbed Demps, and headed to Ri's for a walk in the woods. I figured whatever Jon might do with this alone time would be better than what was happening with all of us at home (I was right). We walked, we lunched, we shopped at Hannaford's—all with the assistance of Ri, my angel. At one point, a child "melted" into the floor of the bread aisle. I hissed. I tugged on the sleeve of a puffy coat. I walked away, did some deep breathing exercises, turned turned back and talked the kid onto his feet, all while struggling not to pop open the bottle of wine in my cart (Predator).

When I got home no one wanted to make cards. They were eager to ice the cake, but the kid who was acting all generous just a few days ago apparently could spare only two candy cigarettes (he called them candy candles)—just one item of his 98-piece candy collection—for the cake. At this point, I was all "whatever" and just let the cake-making happen as it would, finger licking and all.

Friends came, dinner came together, and then this happened:

Indisputable joy.

Planned versus Actual, Part II: 
I'd written "We are grateful for... " on our chalkboard wall the other day and when our friends arrived this eve, all anyone (that'd be me) had come up with was "music." And... so they got to work. It's a bit off from what I'd envisioned but it works. I am, we are, grateful: friends, fun, family...um, music... and one certain handsome, grateful, fantastic Italian-Finnish (American) dude who, today, celebrated turning 37 with a stingily decorated finger-licked Funfetti cake.