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Friday, June 29, 2007

It’s a dream come true. I’m currently sitting at Starbucks, sipping a tall, soy, one Splenda Latte writing on my beautiful “Endurance” sticker-bedecked laptop, Kara (as named by Matthew). Ahh, bliss. It’s Friday night, and I’m on a date. I’m on a hot date with me, my caffeine addiction and my laptop. I need a date – it’s high time I spent some time checking in with me and seeing how I’m doing. Sadly, the answer? Not so well.

I don’t quite know for sure what’s gone on, but the last few days have been Rough. Yes, that’s Rough with a capital “R.” I have no real excuse for why things have been so bad either – and that freaks me out. The fact that I’m feeling emotional and a bit out of control – freaked out, really – that freaks me out. It’s bringing back too many bad memories of my early post-partum depression days. I’m still going strong on Zoloft, I only have two or three therapy sessions left (that’s probably freaking me out too). But all in all, I’ve actually been doing really well, and then WAZAMMY! Emotional waterworks. Pity Party – you’re all invited; actually, no – you’re not. Stay away. The dulldrums. The blues. The blahs. The bijiggities. So, I don’t know what’s brought it on but it’s on, and a date with Kara and Coffee is just what the doctor (well, Mike) ordered.

We made a pilgrimage out to the Mecca that is Trader Joe’s. Do you know Trader Joe’s? It’s totally trendy and cute and small and about fifteen minutes from our house. TJ’s is a small grocery chain offering ridiculously good-priced fancy gourmet and organic foods. The boys and I made the expedition a couple of days ago – pre-Pity Party. All was going well – I’d stocked up on good deal goodies and was in the check-out line. No grocery cart seatbelt is strong enough to keep Monkey Man Zachary safely seated in the little kid-seat, so I was holding him on my hip while preparing to pay for my groceries. (He’ll wiggly right out of the strap and stand on the top of the grocery cart, yelling like a Howler Monkey. Yes, we’re one of THOSE families at the grocery store). Matthew was standing near me while I chatted up the cashier. About two seconds later, I hear a scream and a cry. Crud. A scream and a cry that I recognize. I whip around and see that Matthew is by the big sliding door (to exit to the parking lot) and that his hand is stuck – completely wedged between the two doors – the stationary one and the big one that slides over as you approach the door. Matthew’s hand is in a door sandwich.

The cashier and I went flying over to Matthew. I put Zach on the ground and totally pull a SuperMom – with inhuman strength I pry the two doors apart while Cashier Man helps to free Matthew’s trapped hand. Meanwhile, Zachary has crawled all the way across the front of the store and is preparing to exit out the other big sliding door. I ditch my sobbing toddler to go grab Monkey Man ZJ before he gets various body parts wedged. Returning to comfort Matthew, I inspect the injury. His hand was a bit torn up and red but there didn’t seem to be any extensive damage. Cashier Man came charging towards us with a bag of frozen corn and patriotic themed stickers (those didn’t go over so well). I was still trying to restrain Zach while comforting Matthew and obviously failing miserably when an older gal – a sweet Grandma-type – came and asked if she could hold Zach for me. I handed him over appreciatively so that I could calm Matthew down. Trader Joe’s is fairly small and the whole check-out area had come to a bit of a stand-still with our dramatic display. I reassured everyone that there was no need for amputation; we’d all be OK. Then it hit me. What the H-E-double-hockey-sticks had Matthew been doing over by the door in the first place?!

“Matthew! What did you think you were doing walking away from Mommy like that? Why were you going to the door?” I scolded.

He started to cry harder and shakily responded, “I was done shopping. I wanted to go to the car and go home.”

I started to lay into him when I realized that it was perhaps not the time to scold my child – I didn’t need an audience. The Mommy Speech could wait for once we were in the car. At least it was hopefully a good lesson – you don’t wander away from Mommy in public places because the big scary, Monster Door could possibly try to eat your hand. And had Matthew gone out the door, he would’ve had to deal with a worse fate – a big scary, FREAKED OUT Mommy Monster. For both of our sakes, I’m thankful that the door tried to eat his hand.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Our big Engaged Encounter event this weekend was a smashing success! We had a fantastic weekend and all of the Martins are now officially suffering from exhaustion hangovers. On Friday, when our company arrived (Kelly and Karla and their three kiddos), I was showing the kids where they’d be sleeping when 3 ½ year old Sean looked around at the toys in our family room (neatly placed in boxes and on shelves) and said, “Wow! This room is going to be a huge mess in no time!” The kids set right to work. Matthew and Zachary LOVED our “sleepover friends.” It was especially cute to watch 18 month old, Ryan and Zach tottering down the hall together and passing toys back and forth.

The meeting part of the weekend went great – long (especially for the kids who hung out with babysitters in the childcare room) – but great. We were at the church Friday from 6pm-9:30PM, Saturday: 8:30AM-10:30PM, and Sunday: 8:30AM-12PM. Thankfully, the weather was nice enough on Saturday that the kids could play out on the playground a bit. That would have been a miserable day for them (and the babysitters!) if they had been shut in the small childcare room all day.

The highlight of the EE festivities was a huge dinner and dance on Saturday night. 85 people came (including the visiting couples for the Unit Board Meeting and our Seattle EE families). We had a fantastic time! The kids all came out and danced too – we got some great pictures of Matthew and Annie dancing. (He went for an older woman – she’s six). And no party is complete without a conga line!

I got all spruced up in my new coral-colored sundress, with black ¾ length-sleeve cardigan, black wedge sandals, and pedicured coral toe nails. I was feeling pretty dang cute and sassy until someone asked me if I was pregnant. Yeah. Wow. Look, I recognize that the current style trend is the empire/high waist clothing; and I know that with my perma-post-pregnancy-mommy-pooch, I run the risk that the maternity-style apparel really does just look like maternity apparel on me, but seriously! Do you ask every gal who walks out of Old Navy if she’s with-child?! ‘Cuz I’m telling ya, with the cut of clothes these days, we could all be walking around about 4 months along and you would never know the difference. My advice: unless you’re sitting in childbirth class together or you’re present at the birth, DON’T ASK IF A WOMAN IS PREGNANT!!!
And, for the record, if you still have any doubts, I’m NOT pregnant and thoroughly enjoyed some white wine with my salmon on Saturday night and some red wine with my chili on Sunday night!

After the meeting concluded on Sunday, we took the kids to the fine dining establishment of McDonalds for lunch and some run-around-time, and then we headed into Seattle. We went on the “Seattle ice cream cruise” – a cute, old passenger ferry that is now privately owned (by Captain Larry). He takes the boat out on the hour every weekend for a 45 minute cruise around Lake Union. The weather had been a little if-y – it was really stormy in Issaquah, but thankfully it let up for the boat ride. After the cruise some of the EE people (and my parents and Chris who also joined in), walked up to the Fremont troll. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/WASEAtroll.html The Carper kids were all over Mr. Fremont Troll – Matthew, not so much.

Sure enough, when we got home last night and were trying to put our VERY over-tired children to bed, Matthew kept needing to communicate to us how much he didn’t like the Troll. I reassured him that the troll was a statue, was far away and wouldn’t get him. Those explanations weren’t cutting the mustard. So finally, in my own fatigue and wine-induced state (look, it only takes me a glass or two, people, especially when I’m tired) I said, “Matthew, you don’t need to worry about the troll. He’s a good troll. Actually, he’s a very helpful troll. You know the car that he’s holding? Well, it’s a broken car. See, the troll collects broken cars, eats them and then poops out brand new working cars. He’s really quite talented and handy to have around.”

Matthew thought about this for a moment and said, “OK, but he only has one eye.” I reminded him that he has two eyes, but one is hidden under his hair and the troll should really consider getting a haircut. Then, we’d be able to see both of his eyes. Matthew considered this and then informed me that actually no; the troll DOES only have one eye.

“Where’s his other eye then?” I inquired.

“The shark ate it,” he told me matter-of-factly.

“Um, OK…go to sleep.”

Matthew was too distraught over the broken-car-eating, new-car-pooping, one-eyed, shark-victim Troll to go to sleep. Mike ended up staying with Matthew in his room, until he – they – finally gave into fatigue. (Mike was out way before Matthew. I’m fairly certainly he fell asleep to questions of “But Daddy, why does he poop out the cars?” and “What about the shark that ate his eye?”).

After a weekend of going, going nonstop, getting up at 6 every morning to make breakfast, pack lunches, and prepare dinners I’m pooped (and not the brand-new-car kind…that, would be rather convenient – painful, but convenient).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

We have a huge, fun weekend ahead of us. We’ll be hosting a family of five at our house (three kids: 18mo. boy, 3 ½ boy, 6yr. old girl and their parents) for a big Engaged Encounter event that will include long meetings, a fun Saturday dinner and dance and a Sunday “ice cream cruise” – boat ride in Seattle. It’ll be super fun, but we’ve been doing lots to get ready.

In order to save on time this morning, I decided to forego a shower and just wash my hair in the sink. (Sadly this is a regular enough occurrence here). I came out of the bathroom to check on the boys. My hair was stringy and sopping wet. The kids were fine, so I went back in to tame my mane. When I came out Matthew said, “Wow, Mommy, pretty hair.” I said, “Hey, thanks, Bud.” To which he replied, “Yeah, you look like a girl and not a horse.” See, it was a mane.

The other day we made a pilgrimage to Walmart – it really is like traveling to a whole other world. We were waiting in the customer service line when Matthew said loudly, “Look, Mommy! That guy has underwear on his head!” I quickly shhed him and discretely turned around – standing behind us in line was a tough looking gansta-type guy with a tight, white skull cap/hat on his head. I avoided making eye contact as Matthew said again, “Did you see? Did you see his underwear hat? Pretty silly, huh?”

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jenny’s “Quickies” (yeah, right, like anything I say is that quick):

What’d we do for Father’s Day? We slept. Well, first we had yummy banana, dark chocolate chip pancakes (and I wonder why I can’t lose weight) for the special day. Then we went to church and out to lunch with friends to celebrate their baby’s Baptism. My brother Chris came along too. (Mom and Dad are at Port Ludlow entertaining four Vietnamese nuns and a priest – it sounds like a bad joke, I know). By the time we got home it was 3pm – and QUIET time!! We were so tired that we all ended up taking naps. 2 ½ hour long naps! I woke up at 5:30 and thought sheesh! We better wake everyone up so we can eat dinner and get ready for bed! Thanks to his long nap, Matthew was still up and ready to party at 11pm.



* * * * *


I haven’t blogged as much as usual recently because I’m actually writing during my early morning or naptime writing time!! I’ve started working on a middle grade (ages 9-12) chapter book that I’m REALLY excited about. I’ve already got quite a few chapters completed, plus I have the entire story outlined. I’m hoping that it will be between 100-200 pages. It’s really neat to get to that “magical” place where the characters just walk out of your imagination and you’re just sharing their story and words with everyone else.

* * * * *

Zachary will walk all the way down the hall if he’s trying to get at Daddy’s ice cream cone; otherwise, he still leans towards speed-crawling – which he is a champ at.

We’re thinking about getting him a job as a Walmart Greeter. He stands on the sofa (which he can easily climb up on now) and waves and says “hi” to any cars or people that pass our house. Walking down to the store today, he rode in the stroller, and I’m fairly certain he thought that he was part of a parade.

Going down the stairs today (sliding on his tummy), he got tripped up somehow and started to fall. Thankfully, I was right there to stop him from tumbling all the way down the stairs. Unfortunately, I caught him but in the process somehow managed to wack his head on the stair railing. He’s got a nasty dark red line and purple bruise going horizontally right between his two eyes – as if he’s wearing glasses. Right. You can call CPS now, I fully admit blame.

* * * * *

Matthew usually refers to fireworks as “thunderworks.”

He overheard me talking about how we got pretty “green” after riding the Sun Ferris Wheel at Disneyland’s California Adventure. We’re going to Disneyland the first week of August, so we’ve been talking about it a fair amount (I’m more excited than anyone! Shocking, I know). He’s really concerned that we’ll go on a ride that will “turn us green.” I’ve tried to reassure him that we will not make that mistake again. No swinging gondolas for us, thank you very much.

* * * * *

I made it into the gym for yoga class last night. Kathy – my former middle school health, gym, and sex-ed teacher, NOW my yoga instructor – was all about the New Age-y-ness last night. We did a few extra meditations that were all about feeling your energy and spirit and connectivity to the body, the universe, etc. Those were actually pretty nice. I had a problem with the whole gong thing. She had this little mini-gong that she whipped out towards the end of class. We were to change positions when we heard the gong. Even way-too-short-shorts-old-guy snorted about that. I think we were all trying to be oh-so Zen and serious, but the gong was a bit much for most of us. Short-Shorts (for short) still stays after class to flirt it up with Kathy. I’m pretty sure he’s going to make a move soon – maybe ask her out for some wheat grass after class. I’m trying to come up with a way to discretely clue him in: Dude, if you want a chance with Kathy, you’ve GOT to ditch the way-too-short-shorts. She’s definitely more of a yoga-pants kind-of-a-gal. Really, I don’t know any woman that’s a way-too-short-shorts kind of a gal.

It has been said that all the spinal twisting and stretching that occurs in yoga is great for the digestive system…it really ‘wrings’ you out so to speak and squeezes all of the toxins out of you. Um, let’s just say, hypothetically speaking, that someone (who shall remain nameless) wasn’t really thinking things through and had some beans on her salad, a little too much cheese (particularly for one who is borderline lactose-intolerant), and a Fiber One “oats and chocolate” bar for snack (delicious but dangerous)! All I can say is that I’d like to apologize to the….wait, I mean, someone-at-yoga-who-would-like-to-remain-anonymous would like to apologize to the people who were Yoga-ing around me…her. There’s a chance that the Zen spirit was a bit tampered with.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I am so not the artsy-fartsy, creative, kids-crafty kind of Mom that I probably should be. Oh, the pressure. Set-up fun and educational, creative activities for your children! Definitely not me. Even pulling out the Playdoh is an impressive act for this Slacker Mom. Every once in a while I do try though.

For Father’s Day last year, I wanted to make Mike a stepping stone with the boys’ hand prints. (Remember, at the time Zachary was just a teeny tiny peanut). My Mom helped because, let’s face it, the woman can hold her own in the artsy-fartsy world. It went OK, but again, I always find that once I’m in the middle of an art project – it’s just a bit too much work and too much mess for me. I also didn’t really think through the whole process. Zachary was developmentally right on for a few-months-old Preemie – he did exactly what he was supposed to do. We stuck his hand in the cement and he immediately grabbed a hand-full of the ooey goo. His hand print looked more like a little chicken foot print. I attempted to just fill it in to make it appear more human baby-like and not poultry-like.

This year, I thought we would continue with the stepping stone theme but do the boys’ footprints. Couldn’t be that hard, right? And actually, it wasn’t too bad. Zach’s print looks to be missing about three toe imprints, but at least it’s more baby than birdie.

My problem with the arts and crafts is – while I don’t claim to have much artistic talent – I do start a project with a vision. Things get tricky when little people actually want to help and participate with the mommy-son craft. Instead of putting the little glass mosaic tiles around the edge of the stone (as was my master plan), Matthew was sticking stones in the middle – where their feet would need to go. I practically follow him around undoing all of the goodness that he’s trying to do. Talk about shooting down his creative juices! Sorry, kiddo; I’ll give you the number of my therapist. Oh well, I may have scarred him in the process, but at least I fulfilled our art project quota for the year.

Friday, June 15, 2007

After months of meeting for early morning runs, Andrea and I had our first run in a steady downpour this morning. That’s impressive – that we’ve gone for weekly runs in the Seattle area without truly getting wet until today. We did five miles and found ourselves, at one point, on a scenic one-way street that had houses on one side and the woods of Cougar Mountain on the other. Andrea noted, “Oh! This is the road that they were referring to in the Newcastle News a couple of weeks ago. You know, that black bear and mountain lion sightings have taken place here recently.” Doh. We were trying to remember the “what-to-do-in-the-event-of” tips that had been provided in the article.

“Let’s see,” I said, “so, you make noise for a bear right? I know you’re supposed to make eye contact with one of them – maybe the lion – but not the other (maybe it’s anti-social or something). Uh…I guess we need to carry the survival handbook and say, ‘Please hold, dangerous predator, while I check to see what I’m supposed to do in this situation.’”

I then proceeded to tell Andrea the plan that I had come up with on one run. I was running in the woods by myself on the trails of Cougar Mountain (a foolish endeavor that I will never again do). I realized that it was pretty dumb to be running in the woods, alone, without any sort of protection or precautionary measures. So, thanks to the help of my Runner’s High (it does exist), I came up with an ingenious plan. (For some reason everything that I think about when running just seems SO amazing, inspired and original to me…at the time). Should I be faced by a predator – be it man or beast – I would distract him first off by throwing my one car key at him. (Which of course, was secured and tied to my shoe lace….the removal of this key would only take a moment; I was sure). Then, while mammal is distracted by my brilliant key move, I would remove my sport’s bra (uh-huh) and fashion a sling shot (right), find some large and very sharp rocks and attack the attacker. Yes, this – thanks to running endorphins – really did seem like a marvelous idea. For some reason, Andrea didn’t feel that reassured with my plan for protecting us. What’s with her? I totally have it all figured out.

When I walked in the door (sopping wet) at 7:30, the Martin boys were all up having breakfast. Matthew immediately told me about the “skooky” (spooky) ghost, skeleton stegosaurus that started counting and Matthew didn’t want to hide in the box, so the skooky, ghost, skeleton stegosaurus sat on his back. Woah. If that doesn’t have all the ingredients for a bad dream, I don’t know what does! Thankfully, Matthew concluded by saying that the stegosaurus tickled him and gave him a kiss. It would appear that things ended on a positive note for Matthew and the skooky stegosaurus. Phew!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Somehow I ran seven miles this morning! (It helped that I was running with Andrea…and that I talked pretty much the whole time. Time flies when you’re…talking). The weather was great for a long run – a little chilly and misty. As I suspected though, getting up at 5:45, having a long run, consuming a fair amount of coffee and having a quiet post-run morning all managed to combine and leave me wiped out and ready for a nap at 11AM. Oh well. I only had a few hours to wait until my daily Diet Pepsi caffeine intake.

Matthew and I were playing trucks last week – shocking! (That’s certainly not news). The scenario was that I was the “worker truck” and Matthew was the “moving flatbed truck.” On the back of the moving truck was a little toy bed.
My truck asked Matthew’s moving truck, “So, where are you headed? Where are you taking that bed?”
The Moving Truck informed Worker Truck, “I’m taking it to the poor people. The poor people who don’t have beds.”
The Worker Truck (fighting a lump in the throat and a serious desire to do the ‘I DO have the best kids in the World’ dance) responded, “Wow! That’s so nice. Where do the poor people live who don’t have beds?”
Moving Truck responded, “They live outside. They don’t have houses either.”
Worker Truck: “Huuuh. That’s very sad…”
Moving Truck: “Wait!! They just got a new house.”
Worker Truck: “Well, that’s great!”
Moving Truck: “Yeah, they have this new farm silo for a house. But wait….Oh, this is very sad….”
A worried Worker Truck: “What?! What’s the matter?”
“They don’t have a TV! We better give them a TV. They have to have a TV!!!”

Oh well, at least he’s a very philanthropic little guy – wanting to help the needy trucks out there obtain the necessities: bed, home, TV.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Be careful what you wish for.

Just when I think,”Hmmm, I don’t really have any news to BLOG about…” I get to make my first ever call to the Washington State Poison Control line. Yep, it was Zachary; no big shocker there. He’d found my small container of Petroleum Jelly Vaseline (that I use for nighttime lip moisturization purposes) and helped himself to some. The container was inside the drawer of my bedside table. I’m still not sure how he managed to get the drawer open (it’s pretty tricky), but then it seems that he popped off the Vaseline lid no problem. I was fairly certain that he didn’t actually eat much of the goo but figured that it wouldn’t hurt to call Poison Control anyway.

The Poison Control lady was awesome! She was so nice and very clear on instructions and wanted me to call back after four hours just to check in. (They actually called us after about 3 ½ hours – that’s how on top of things they are)! The main concern with Vaseline is that if a lot is consumed (which, thankfully, in our situation wasn’t the case) it can get stuck in the lungs making it difficult to breathe. Zach showed no signs of that. Petroleum Jelly can also act as a laxative, so there’s a chance that up to three days after consumption, diarrhea can occur. So far, no runny poos here.

Poison Control Lady asked what we’d done after we discovered Zach snacking on Vaseline. I told her that I wiped him down thoroughly and scolded Matthew for not telling us that Zachy had been making a bad choice. (In fact, I had heard Matthew laughing and egging him on…never a good sign. I should always check right away if Matthew thinks Zach is being funny – that’s usually a sign of Martin boy mischief). She laughed and said, “Sometimes you just have a kid who is way more inquisitive and likely to get into stuff. I have four children, and one of them got into everything. I started working here around his first birthday. I had to call into work all the time. I’d say, ‘Hey, it’s Katie.’ And they’d say, ‘Ahh, so what did he eat this time?’ The good news is that he’s 16 now, so he survived…of course, now he can drive...”

I was so impressed with the Poison Control line people, but I never want to talk to them ever again. (I have a feeling that I should probably just put them on speed dial).

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Matthew named my laptop. I’ve been wondering since Day One what I should call it. “It” just doesn’t cut it with me. I’d not come to any conclusions when today, Matthew asked if he could “close her.”

“Her? Her who?” I asked.
“Your computer,” he said. “Kara.”

“Kara?” Mike and I asked, looking at each other. “Who’s Kara?”

To my knowledge, Matthew doesn’t know anyone named Kara. And how does he know that Kara is a girl’s name? How does he know that my computer’s a girl? I have questions – lots and lots of questions. But it doesn’t really matter; I’m excited about Kara. It’s very fitting.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I’ve done it. After two weeks of deep deliberation and analysis, I have selected the sticker that will adorn my beautiful laptop. It was kind of like choosing a tattoo (and I’ll go on record here, to say that I’ve never done that). How do you choose one little word, phrase or image that fully represents you? You should really love it because you could be stuck with it for quite some time or in this case, it will be STUCK on a laptop for quite some time.

I knew that my sticker would need to be somehow running-related. I am, by no means, a good runner, nor am I a 100% fully-committed, nonstop runner. However, running, to me, has served as a serious means of recognizing abilities that I had no idea I had. Running is so much more than building up miles, accumulating blisters and chafing skin. Training and running has taught me that if I set my mind on a goal and really want it – there’s no stopping my dedication; I’ll make it happen. My running became a metaphor and lesson on life for me.

In my search for laptop art, I knew my computer d├ęcor had to be something more than just running though – the sticker that I chose would somehow have to define me. I liked the basic “RunnerGirl” sticker – complete with little cartoon running girl. Cute. But no, that wasn’t it. I also really like the one that said, “The Woman who finishes the race, is not the same woman who began.” I like the point of it, but it’s definitely too wordy for me. PLEASE, I am a woman of FEW words. I like things to be concise, to the point. I don’t like it when things drag on and on, when you already know where an idea is headed without needing more and more pointless, drawn-out description and detail. Right.

My search continued. And then I found it. It’s girly, but strong, simple yet bold: an oval sticker with a little bit of swirly, whirly edging under the one word: ENDURANCE. I love it. (In fact, I love it so much that I might just have to get it tattooed on my hindquarters.) When I thought about endurance on my run this morning, I realized more and more why ENDURANCE is the perfect sticker for me.

Dictionary.com says ENDURANCE is:

1.
the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.

2.
the ability or strength to continue or last, esp. despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina: He has amazing physical endurance.

3.
lasting quality; duration: His friendships have little endurance.

4.
something endured, as a hardship; trial.
Here is my definition of endurance; my personal ODE TO my ENDURANCE:

ENDURANCE IS:

- Running 26.2 miles in 5 hours and 15 minutes with a cold and in 75degree heat along side one of my very best friends…and talking the whole time.
- Lying in bed for 49 days…for seven weeks, locked in a hospital bed, to keep Zachary cooking. And then coming home to a crazy new life with Mike, a confused and angst-riddled Matthew, and Preemie Zach…Not to mention learning to walk on completely atrophied, post- bed rest muscles.
- Limping through the first year of our marriage – with hospital visits, Chemo, Radiation – and still sticking out the race.
- Overcoming the darkness that is Post Partum Depression…trying to find myself in the darkest, most unfathomable moments, and coming out the other side, striving to accept the new-ME and loving me. Surviving.
- Forcing 60 puberty-stricken seventh graders to sing and dance on stage. (And actually getting them to decently carry a tune).
- Having to leave the hospital without my babies and having to watch them undergo treatment in the NICU.
- Getting 12 three-and-under-year-olds to sit still(ish) in order to sing songs and play instruments.
- Surviving middle school as a chubby, poofy-short-haired band geek.
- Being honked at by truck drivers on a run…and refraining from giving them the one finger salute.
- Accepting that no matter what I do, it may not ever be quite enough for some people.
- Breastfeeding – when it’s the most painful and last thing that a gal wants to do in the middle of the night. (And yet getting up a couple of hours later to do it again).
- Trying not to take it too personally when discovering one of my high school ex-boyfriends is gay and is now also married to a man named Michael. (I didn’t see that one coming!)
- Knowing that thanks to my predisposition to carrying weight in the gut (i.e. “The Mommy Pooch”), I will always look about 4 ½ months pregnant. (Luckily, the empire/high waist, maternity look is back in)!
- Writing. Writing when I know that there’s a good chance I may never be published, but I still have plenty to say and want to say it.
- The knowledge that despite whatever hardships, stress or pain I may experience, there are always millions of people suffering way more than I. And when it comes down to it, my life is a dream, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
- Reading all the way through my BLOG! Keep up the good work! Way to endure!

How about you? What’s your personal Ode to Endurance? Make a list – I’m sure it’s a very therapist-approved activity.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Instead of spending my early morning writing sessions writing, this week I’ve been focusing on two things: exercise and sleep. (The nerve! Sleeping in past 6am!). My neighbor and running buddy, Andrea’s half marathon training is in full swing. This week, I joined her for a three miler, a six miler and tomorrow we’ll do five miles. I don’t know if I’m actually ready for all these miles, but somehow I’m keeping up. I sure need the cardio though.

Weight loss is an enigma to me. I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t trying to lose some weight. Well, OK, being pregnant, and lying in bed for nearly two months with the sole purpose of gaining weight, was certainly a time when weight loss was out of the question, but aside from that, I can always ‘afford to lose a few.’ And I’m still not sure why I have such a hard time with it. Sure, I’m a fan of sweets and chocolate, but for the most part, I limit my chocolate consumption to one dark chocolate Hershey Kiss a day. My breakfasts are usually oatmeal or Fiber One cereal (gotta keep it regular) with dried blueberries and a half a grapefruit on the side. When I told a friend of my breakfast routine, she said, “What? Fiber One? Are you like 70 or something?” She’s got a point. It’s not the most exciting of early morning food options, but I’m just trying to take care of things.

For lunch, nearly every day, I have a salad. I must admit, that I am quite the salad chef – my salads are fancy, gourmet, and of course, healthy. I usually do tofu or grilled chicken, dark mixed greens, sliced pear or grapes, walnuts, feta cheese, diced red pepper and balsamic vinegar spritzer for dressing. Mm--hmmm. I was having one of these gourmet salads at our preschool end-of-the-year picnic last week, when my salad, my fancy gourmet, healthy feast, was nearly the end of me.

I was sitting on the bench with the boys and Isabella and Isabella’s mom, Carrie, while we ate our packed lunches. Carrie was telling me how obsessed her daughter still is with Matthew. I was sharing with her, that Matthew had informed me that we needed to invite Isabella over. No, not for a play date, like standard protocol, but for dinner! As we were chatting, I was eating my aforementioned salad concoction (the tofu-themed), when somehow a large piece of tofu and lettuce did not get thoroughly smushed and mushed before being swallowed. I started choking as this piece of lettuce-tofu hung out in my throat. I coughed and sputtered but was, for the most part, able to breathe. I guess I managed to cover up my choking as Carrie kept on chatting. I tried taking a drink of water to wash the tofu-tastrophy down. I was successful. I managed to wash it down – lower into my esophagus where I could feel the lump get completely lodged in my chest. Great. Now what?

I could breathe fine but was in SO MUCH PAIN. I didn’t know what to do. I gestured to Carrie, that I’d be right back and wandered over towards the picnic shelter area. I just needed to get away from the group while I clutched my chest, gasped and grimaced in pain. Tofu was going to be the end of me. This tofu wasn’t going anywhere – neither up nor down. Me and tofu. Tofu and me. We were going down together. Death by tofu salad. What a totally lame way to go. I would so much rather experience death by chocolate.

But you can’t change fate, and it was sure looking like my destiny was to die due to tofu blockage. I was clutching my chest, trying to figure out what to do, when Matthew’s teacher, Ms. Susan came over. “Are you OK?” She asked. “You look awful.”

“No,” I gasped, “There’s salad, stuck, in my chest…It hurts…Don’t know what to do.” Then, I realized that I was going to throw up. I ran around to the back of the picnic shelter and proceeded to vomit up bile next to the trash can. After a bit of that, I realized, that was the way things would have to go. The tofu would only go, if it came up. It would not go down; it wouldn’t really do anything. I would have to force it up. I, again, gestured, to Carrie – this time to go to the restroom.

Why anyone would choose to be bulimic is beyond me. Puking is neither fun nor enjoyable, and it certainly shouldn’t be a daily habit. In the end, I succeeded to – bluuuppp – bring up the whole, huge wad of tofu and lettuce. Gross. My chest hurt for a good while afterwards, but I no longer feared that Ms. Susan would have to call Mike and tell him, “You’ll need to come and get your boys at Coulon Beach Park. Jenny went to the hospital in an ambulance….I’m not sure…something about tofu.” What a call that would be.
And my obituary would read: “Jenny was a fun gal who spent the last year of her life suffering from post partum depression, trying to figure out the purpose of her life, blogging and cleaning up lots of snot. She loved her family and her friends. She enjoyed music and running, spin class and yoga. She recently fell sucker to an on-line Writers Agency scam thinking they would help her publish her stories. Dark chocolate and coffee were two of her favorite things. She loved reading, chatting with friends, and watching movies with husband Mike. She drank one Diet Pepsi nearly every afternoon and was a fan of an apple with peanut butter for snack. Aside from various social events, Engaged Encounter activities, and a trip to California in early August, she was looking forward to watching “So You Think You Can Dance” on Fox, this summer. Monthly book club meetings were one of her favorite nights each month (aside from the nights when “SYTYCD” airs). She leaves behind a phenomenal husband, two amazing sons, a few bunnies that camp out on their lawn sometimes, and a duck threesome that tried to mate in the front yard. Her death was caused by tofu salad. She was 27 years old.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Armed with plenty of bribery: three new construction trucks (thanks to Nana and Uncle Harry) and a chocolate Easter Bunny, Matthew and I attempted the unimaginable last night – a haircut. My tools? A comb, old finger nail scissors, and a plastic cup (for covering Matthew’s ears). Somehow, the magic of the new construction trucks and the protected Martin ears, worked, and we actually managed to cut the hair-cut-phobic child’s shaggy-do.

My only previous haircutting experience occurred seven years ago in a motel room in Antibes, France. Located on the ocean and not far from Cannes, the weather was super hot. We’d spent a couple of days on the beach attempting to make our pale skin turn tan (we only managed to turn lobster red), and Ingrid was desperate for a trim. We bought some scissors at the grocery store and I attempted to cut her straight, blond hair evenly across the bottom. Straight hair stresses me out because you can actually see the cut. With my big ‘fro curly hair, it doesn’t really matter if the cut is straight across the bottom or not. As long as there are layers and some intensive thinning-action; my hair pretty much always looks the same – big. (Ingrid got her hair professionally cut shortly after we returned to the States.)

I have been the queen of bad haircuts and experiences in the past. I had one lady sit me down, wrap me in the black hair-cutting tarp, look at my long, thick, overgrown curls, and say, “And what do you expect me to do with all this junk?” Yes, and then I just sat there like a wuss while she butchered my hair. One lady cut my hair all one length, and said, “It’s a straight haircut, it will make your hair straight.” Mmm, yeah, it doesn’t work that way. And, I of course still tip for these horrendous haircuts! When I’ve had my hair short, there’s no end to the haircutting trauma. If the hairstylist blow-dries my hair (why I let them do this, is still a mystery), I come home in tears crying about my big mushroom-head hair. Mike tries to reassure me that it looks OK (not without too much enthusiasm, I might add) and then subtly reminds me how much he likes my hair long.

So, I’ve never had extensive haircutting experience, and let’s face it, Matthew – fearing for the safety of his ears – is not the best client. However, despite the deck stacked against us, we managed; and if I do say so myself, I think we managed quite well. When I cut Matthew’s sideburns and around his ears, he would hold a pink plastic heart cup (a Valentine’s gift from Ms. Susan) over the body part, lest I should try to snip those down (with my dull finger nail scissors). At the end of our successful haircut, I said, “Matthew, I’m SO proud of you. You did such a good job!” To which he replied, “You too, Mommy. Good job. I’m proud of you!” What a good boy.

And what a good Mommy indeed! I can’t believe his haircut is actually socially acceptable – I was thinking we might just have to hold him down and shave his head since I figured I’d botch it so badly. I’m so confident in my haircutting skills now; maybe I should attempt to trim Zachary’s Baby Mullet – his Bullet. However, I don’t think that that mover-shaker would sit still even if it was for new construction trucks and stale Easter chocolate.

Matthew decided that his new construction trucks wanted to sleep out on the deck last night. He was just about to crawl into bed, when forgetting something, he jumped up and ran down the hall. He threw open the deck slider and yelled, “Goodnight, worker trucks! I love you!” Yeah, he really is that cute.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I’m totally into my yard right now. It’s all pretty exciting and new to me. See, I’ve never been much of an outdoorsy girl. My parents love to share the tale of a wee-Jenny standing right outside the front door steps screaming and crying. I refused to walk up to the front door. It wasn’t so much that I refused to do it; I was physically incapable of doing it. I was terrified, petrified and glued with absolute fear to the ground. There was a slug on the third step, and I just could not summon the courage to walk by it (lest it turn into a Super Sicko Slug – launching itself in a rage of slugly glory and slime and having its sinister ways with me). Yeah, I’m still not a bug girl, though I can say that I now handle the sight of a creepy crawly better than my three-year-old son. (He screams and cries and carries on like a…girl).

It’s been beautiful every day this week. I’ve worked for hours outside every afternoon – planting flowers and pulling weeds, pruning bushes and watering. I still don’t know what’s what. I find myself occasionally pulling what I think is a weed only to realize – yeah, I planted that last year – and I have watered weeds a-plenty. My latest obsession is my flower pots. I painted them navy blue, and they turned out so well. I’ve got three pots now – the big one (my major garage sale purchase from a few weeks back) is up on the stump in the back, and then I got two little ones for the corners of the deck. Buying flowers to put in my pretty pots was fun – though I still have no idea what they are. Mom asked me about them. My answer was, “Well, I got a tall pokey one, some big pretty ones, little pretty ones, and some crawling growies too.”

Yes, while I’m now enjoying yard work, I still have no idea what I’m doing. While I may be clueless, I’m proud of myself for at least doing it. I’m the girl, who, once pretended to be praying the rosary to get out of doing yard work. (Shhh, don’t tell my parents; I probably still need to go to confession for that one).

I want to get our yard pretty so that we can enjoy its beauty from the house, and most specifically from the deck. Until earlier this week, we couldn’t even enjoy the deck though. We didn’t have any patio furniture. I’ve dedicated myself the last couple of weeks to stalking Craigslist like any professional online bargain shopper. Finally – success! I not only found the patio furniture set of my dreams BUT it was cheap(ish), in great shape, and located five minutes from our house! Mike went on Tuesday night to pick it up, while I busily cleaned the deck preparing for the moment of arrival.

Matthew, as in so many aspects of life, shares my excitement. He watched with interest as I cleaned off the deck (despite it being way past bedtime). He could feel the energy in the air and was not about to miss the unveiling of our new deck furniture. Jammies and all, he was the first to try out the (dirty) new chairs. I promised him that the next day, he could help me clean them up so that we could start eating outside. (The kid loves a picnic).

We’ve had a couple of nice dinners out there already. I love that on the deck, Zach can dump food to his heart’s content and scream like a banshee should he choose to. And instead of being stuck inside listening to it, we can share it with the entire neighborhood.

This morning, I wanted to fulfill my dream of breakfasting on the deck. I have vivid fantasies of sitting out there with my coffee and this – my laptop – and writing away. So, in several trips, I brought out cereal, coffee, books, kids, etc. (I was going to bring out the laptop once I was done eating). We sat out there for maybe two minutes when Mike pointed out that, despite the sunshine, it was “frickin’ freezing” and we were practically turning blue with cold. Yeah, I’m dedicated to my dream, but I guess it’ll have to wait ‘til the weather heats up.

Friday, June 01, 2007

I’ve been had. Not totally had, but enough had so that I feel like a cad. Yes, I was excited, but – believe it or not – I did still have my feet on the ground. I was cautious with this offer from an agency to represent me and my literary work. So, with excitement (and yet my feet solidly planted), I read through the contract sent to me by the Agency. I’d done some research into this group, but (and I’m still not sure how) I hadn’t stumbled upon the info that I found yesterday.

It didn’t take much on-line sleuth work to discover quite a few links regarding the Agency. Most of the links were titled something like “Writers: BEWARE!” or “Agency Fraud” – yeah, not a good sign. Turns out, that this dude named Robert something-or-other has spent his time and talent starting up very legit-seeming literary agencies under various names. He then responds to all the emails under different names as well. So, “Sherry” (no last name provided) is the Director of Author Acquisitions, then “Andrea” is the Director of Administration. It seems stupid now (of course, hindsight is 20-20) that I didn’t pick up on these things initially, but I was pleased with the whole philosophy and seemingly casual form of correspondence. It wasn’t overly technical (or professional) which appealed to me. LAME. Hello: rookie, excitable, clueless author wanna-be. Yeah, that’d be me.

The only first and last name listed on any of their info was the name of the Senior Agent provided on the very bottom of the contract. When I googled “her” name, I found several places where writers were calling out this Robert guy on his con. There was no official information – background or professional references at all on this “Agent.” Fishy. Yes, at this point, I realized there was definitely something going on.

The con is this: “they” – the “Agency” does an excellent job of making you feel that there are “no strings attached.” You pay them nothing (they only get paid should your book sell, at which point they receive 10% of the sale – most agencies take 15-20%; so even that seems good). You can break the contract (no questions asked if they don’t sell your story in 90 days. Rarely does a story sell in 90 days. So, according to the writers who have fallen prey to this, they feed you lines like, “Oh, we’re so close to closing the deal; we’re just negotiating the best possible contract for you…” until the 90 days is up, you’re suckered in and you can no longer break the contract. They make their money by requiring you to use their “reputable” professional editors for you final critiques. While they say, you can provide your own editor, they really stress using theirs (and based on what I read during my on-line detective work, they never actually accept your work if it’s been edited by someone else). So, you pay about $70-100 to their “editor” (Robert-con-guy again, answering a different email with a different name). They claim that they’ll never make you do more editing. However, once they begin “negotiating with the publisher” they say the publisher requires more editing (also done by the Agent’s editors). It gets pricier every time. One guy on one of the “Writers: Beware” posts, said that he’d ended up spending about $1000 in editing before realizing that it was all bogus.

The Agency lists a toll-free phone number and address in New York. Calling, the phone number, I heard an automated message, (“we’re busy assisting other clients…leave a message we’ll call you back…”). I didn’t leave a message. And according to one woman who showed up at their office address, she found herself in an office building where the security guard had never heard of said-Agency. The office located at that number is an ‘address for home-based businesses that wish to have a more official-sounding business address.’ Right.

OK. So, enough is enough. Even if all the accusations against the Agency are not true, it’s still too evasive for me. I sent an email requesting references and background info for their editors. In response, I received a “check out our website” – where there is no specific info, just “great job on my edit!”-type comments. I said that I would not sign a contract until I was able to have direct correspondence with my future agent. (Why would I sign up with someone who will represent me without finding out if we work well together, if I like their work ethic, etc.)? I was told, “all correspondence is done by email.” I asked for a list of authors and books that their agency has helped publish. Again, I was told random and evasive things, (“we don’t like to share that information because then our authors are harassed by wanna-be-writers.”) This is a business. Names are everywhere, so that you can clearly boast the actual success that you’ve had. Total bunch of hooey.

Alright, so I’m embarrassed that I did get fairly excited before doing extensive enough research. As they say, if it seems too good to be true, than it probably is. And of course, questions of self-doubt come knocking at the door: why would a “real” agent pick up my story so quickly? It’s not that good.

I am proud of myself that I didn’t get completely suckered in (just partially suckered). It didn’t cost me a dime; I paid them nothing. I still don’t know how I didn’t find this out though before sending them my story. So, while they do have my work (and it’s not copyrighted), I’m not concerned that they (or he, Mr. Robert-Bad-Fake-Agency-Man) will do anything with it. It’s a lot of work to get something published, and he’s out for some quick money from clueless wanna-be-authors.

Alas, no agent for me. I learned a very good lesson. It’s back to the grindstone…or in this case, my pretty new laptop.