Friday, January 16, 2009

Hither, thither and nowhere

I’m ready to discuss Christmas and it’s not quite yet July. Yay me!

The month leading up to Christmas was tense. All that budgeting, gift selecting, shopping and wrapping is just too much to add to all the normal stuff I can’t get around to. I had thought since we had budgeted some money for Christmas this year that it would be so much easier – I wouldn’t be trying to pick out WOW gifts for $15. But in fact I still was. My Christmas buying list has 40 names on it – which seems ridiculous but I don’t know how to make it smaller since already it’s only core family members and kids. But somehow we got it done.

The boys were not too hard to deal with. Noah got a karoke machine, an acoustic guitar and a spy scope from Santa. And then “we” got him some books and art supplies. Ray got some Play Doh, a grocery cart and a stuffed Muno from Santa, and we didn’t get him squat. Hell, he gets all Noah’s crap. The family got them all kinds of things – mountains of stuff. Noah’s favorites were his new two wheeler bike, his Indiana Jones hat and whip, a talking monkey, new activity books and some DVDs. And I am happy to report they also got some savings and education money.

Mark and I didn’t exchange gifts this year because I didn’t want to waste money giving each other cheap knick knacks that we either didn’t need or weren’t very exciting. Of course our families are so tremendously generous that it made up for it. Is it telling we got liquor store gift certificates from three different family members? We got some new furniture from Mom so that we can accommodate more sitting in our living room and also some money from others to be used towards a bit of redecorating the space.

My step mother-in-law bought me a pair of Uggs for Christmas. When I opened them I immediately planned on returning them and buying shoes for the entire family with the money. I disliked Uggs for the reason that I believe many like them - when you see them you immediately know they were expensive. I find that flashy, prestige sort of thing fairly abhorrent. But I tried them on and DAMN they were comfy. And then I realized that the whole thing with Uggs is that the lining keeps your feet body temperature no matter how warm or cold it is outside. You wear them without socks and your feet never sweat. And I thought that is damn handy since I hate to wear socks and I have sweaty feet. But I still set them aside for a few weeks. I had to go out of town to return them and with the stomach flu we were experiencing that wasn’t happening. And then Mark made a very valid point. I am always saying that the perfect gift is getting something for someone that they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves but that they soon find that they love. And these Uggs were the prime example. And so I am wearing them and loving them. They are the only shoe that I can wear and doesn’t put added stress on my sore ankle. I just wish I didn’t constantly worry that other people were thinking “How in the how can she afford $150 boots?”

The part of Christmas this year that was really a joy was the boys excitement. They loved decorating and seeing decorations. They loved seeing all of their family. They loved Christmas Carols. I still don’t have all the decorations away because they adore the Nutcrackers and the musical tree so much that I know they will mourn them. Ray loves Frosty the Snowman so much that he seems to be able to spot even the tiniest one on a row home door from a mile away. Luckily snowmen decorations last the season and he has a few more weeks before there will be no more Frosty sightings.

At 18 months old Ray is speaking SO MUCH. I can’t even think of all the things he can say – of course in his stilted dialect that only we can understand. Some of the standouts are - more, teeth, please, meow (used to refer to the cats but also to speak to them – will say 25 of them in a row like having a conversation with the cat), dog, ball, boot, book, Dora, choo choo, no, uh huh, Frosty, Mommy (I am begging him to use Mama but he is resistant), Daddy, Spy (he calls both of the cats by this name, Parker is pissed), ice cream, cheese, yummy, hat, hot, bag, hi, bye, see, banana and (most important for a second child) MINE. He still loves to play in the water more than anything else. He pulls a kitchen chair up to the sink about three times a day. He loves trains and any kind of animal elicits squeals of glee. He likes to pretend to feed things and love on pets until they run away from over-loving. He is hard to divert when he really wants something but he also knows how to hold his own against his brother. Sometimes I think he even antagonizes Noah. He’s still nursing, mostly at sleep times but will also request additional times by stomping up to me and tapping on my chest with his finger. He has always been a much better sleeper than Noah and even the patches when he has sleep issues from growth spurts and teething are nothing with what we went through with his older brother. He remains overall FUNNY. Even when he’s climbing on everything and getting into things he shouldn’t he does it with a devilish, come-hither smile. He laughs easily and is a constant source of smiles.

Noah remains smart, imaginative, inquisitive, creative and dramatic. He will gladly tell you he is part Super Noah, part spy, part Indiana Jones, part rock star and part Tarzan. He has a lot of questions about what is real and what isn’t - which things he sees on TV are real, people in costumes, puppets or drawn. He is distressed that he doesn’t yet know how to read. We’ve been reading him chapter books before bed but I really need to spend time with him and early reader books so he can get use to sight words and do more phonics. He is advanced but not as advanced as he’d like so I really need to help him out. He loves stories, adventures in particular. After reading James and The Giant Peach we saw the play and then watched the movie. We talked a lot about the differences in the stories and how people tell the same story in different ways. After reading the Tale of Desperaux I took him to see the movie, his second movie theater experience (Wall-E was the first). It made me laugh that he seemed to think we were going to see a play – asking about actors, curtains and spot lights. He’s in a new dance class this season, one that will focus a little bit more on teaching actual moves rather than just being creative with movement. These classes have been really great for him – encouraging him even more to act things out. He really is quite the little performer. He told me the other day that he wanted to be a TV person. And he is a talker. He talks and talks and talks.

Mark is still hard at work at Drexel. He has been having a difficult time getting rid of some chest congestion that has been lingering for the past month. He has coughed so hard that he hurt his chest muscles. But I think he is finally on the mend.

Me? Have I mentioned that I hate winter? That I hurt my foot? My foot is healing though it still hurts, getting worse the longer I am on it. I just got a brace that will hopefully help, though at the moment it seems to make it hurt more. I am anxious for it to get better so I can start working out but I can’t even fathom jumping on it or doing a downward dog with it for at least a few more weeks. And I have to be cautious since reinjury is common when you overextend yourself too early. And I haven’t the determination to start the diet without the exercise so I am just wallowing. Trying to make it through the winter months.

I have been daydreaming about going to Guatemala. A friend told me how affordable ($30 hotel rooms, $300 RT) and lovely it is and next thing you know I was planning on taking the whole family. Mark even bought me a guide book. Problem is the rainy season is May – December and though I tried to tempt him, Mark knows it’s too soon to plan such an exotic vacation, with no money set aside, Sesame Street Spanish, and less than three months. Course I hope to be pregnant by next January so that makes Guatemala again a faroff dream. But for a few days there I was fantasizing about taking the boys swimming in the picturesque volcano-surrounded Lake Atitlan. It’s always easier to get through the winter doldroms when you have something warm and exciting to look forward to. We’ll go to OC NJ with my Mom in July but that seems a million years away. I need a coping mechanism to help me pull through February. Maybe I just need one of them damn lamps.

Friday, January 09, 2009

All the colors of the rain... barrel

Ten years ago after having drinks with my cousin I came home to the realization that I had lost my keys during the course of the evening. Rather than seek a sane solution I decided to climb a large fence, jump down in the back yard and scale the fire escape and let myself in the deck door I knew was open on my third floor apartment. Sounds smart, right? So I got up on the fence by climbing on my cousins car and then I realized that I hadn’t contemplated the jump down on the other side. Luckily, AHA! I could see a lidded barrel on the ground. So I jumped on it and the old metal rain barrel lid gave way and I found myself waist deep in old, dirty water. I hauled myself out and FANCY THAT I had a giant piece of glass sticking out of my foot. (Oh right, I was barefoot because who could scale a fence in platform heels.) I hopped up the fire escape let myself in the house, bled all over it, pulled the giant piece of broken beer bottle out of my foot, wrapped it in a towel and scooted down the stairs on my butt so my cousin could take me to the emergency room to get stitches. Ah… youth.

Well it never healed right. I have a scar and lump on the bottom of that foot. It doesn’t bother me unless I wear incredibly tight shoes – like roller blades or ice skates. Or when I sprain my ankle, have a swollen foot and begin walking in a way that puts pressure of my old barrel jumping injury.

I tell you this to both be “Woe as me, my po lil foot” (pretty colors isn't it) but also because that’s such a fun memory.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Just swell

After a week of being stuck in the house as we exchanged a nasty stomach bug, I decided it would be fun to sprain my ankle. I slipped on a wayward whistle and landed with the top of my foot to the ground. I tried to stay off it all day yesterday and overnight some of the swelling went down, but it still isn't pleasant. We are all grumpy and cabin-fevery messes. In-laws are coming today to chase kids around a bit.
And all of this 2009 bad luck either stems from a lack of the good luck Pork & sauerkraut on New Years Day or from bad karma as a result of my bitching. Maybe both.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


I owe a huge thank you to all of you who, after my last post, commented, emailed, called, reached out to let me know you understand, that it’s going to be okay, to agree I needed something more for myself and to ask how you could help. I am an incredibly lucky woman to have so much emotional support at a time when I really need it. One of the most powerful things is just having other Moms say that though their circumstances are different that they know just how I feel. It’s such a simple, common human need - to feel like you are not alone, that what you feel is justified, real, and relatable. So again, thanks.

And now we’re in a new year and it seems a perfect time to really try to put into practice some change. This year I feel like I’m swimming in a sea of resolutions. Some of them are practical solutions to deal with what is going on with me, and others are just acknowledgements that I could be better, could do better. I’m sure this is just a list I can repeat every year for the next ten years, but here it goes.

1. Attain better physical health. Adopt a healthier eating regimen centered on more whole foods, more water, less caffeine and less wine. Get regular exercise.

2. Make more time for myself. Put into place a schedule by which I will have regular designated time to read, write, and decompress. For starters Mark and I have decided we don’t have to both do the bathtime and bed preparation ritual every night. Switching off nights allows the other person to have a personal hour a couple of nights a week – one I plan on using to read. Reading is therapy to me and I am in dire need. But this is just a start – I need more than three hours a week and I have to make a concrete plan on how and when to take them.

3. Be a better mother. Yell less. Breathe more. Get information on better management and coping techniques.

4. Be a better earthling. Make less trash. Learn to compost. Grow some food. Recycle more. Reuse more. Donate more.

5. Be a better person. Be more kind. Be more positive. Be more generous. Be more thoughtful. Be more thankful. Be more loving. Start with those closest - my husband, my mother, my family, my friends – but spread it further. Be less judgmental, less cynical.

6. Get it together. Reorganize. Take everything out of the place it’s just shoved and decide what is needed, what can go, what stays and precisely where it belongs. (Of course this is part of what I have been silently fixating on for over a month, driving me toward madness and yet I can’t even get my damn laundry folded. Ahem.) Make a plan for basic house cleaning – this worked well a long time ago and we have to put it back in place.

So a bit of practicality and a bit of shooting for the moon. I’m sure in loading up my plate I’ve diluted some of my ability to have an impact. But also I know some of these things are like dominos – better health means better disposition which means better mother which means better person, etc. Though it would surely take a miracle for me to find enough time to clean out cabinets AND read a book. Cleaner cabinets or cleaner mind? Seems an easy question to answer until you open a cabinet and lose your mind.