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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Well, we survived. All of us. Saturday was a beautiful day – a perfect first ever bike-riding day. We took the kiddos, helmets and bike and tryke to the elementary school where there’s a nice flat courtyard (and cool playground). Matthew hopped up on that bike like he’d been doing it his whole life. He road around like a pro for…two minutes. And then he was done. He wanted to play on the playground. Thankfully, the bike hadn’t actually lost its novelty and he continued getting on, riding around for a bit and then taking a play break. All four of us went down into the soccer field where Mike found a flat recess ball that we kicked around. Talk about the difference in our boys’ personalities: after about five minutes of playing with the ball, Matthew had lost interest and had found a fantastic stick with which he dug in the dirt. Zachary, on the other hand, is a little soccer pro and zipped up and down the field, kicking the ball like I’ve never seen a not-yet-two-year-old kick a ball! I think he would’ve run and kicked for hours had daddy not gotten a little too excited and kicked the ball too hard…over the fence.

We’ve kept the bike/trykes in the trunk of the car, so yesterday after preschool I took the boys to a park that has a nice flat trail around it. Matthew was, again, riding like a champ – which was a good thing as I was busy helping Zach with the tricycle. (He can’t actually quite reach the pedals yet, so we have to push him along while he kicks back and sits in luxury and laziness). Matthew was riding towards the playground. I don’t know if he couldn’t/didn’t slow down due to the path being a slight decline or if he meant to do it, but he went straight over the curb down into the play area. It was definitely his first major nasty spill. Thankfully, he landed in the wood play chips, so it was a really soft landing considering. It freaked him out though. But we played for a while and when we started turning blue (it was SO cold and windy!), I announced that we were going to ride around the loop (the long way) back to our car. Matthew hopped right back on, no fear, and did awesome. There was an older gentleman walking along the trail as we neared our car and I looked back and saw Matthew grinning at him from ear to ear. When we were heading home, Matthew announced, “that man got to see my new bike. I think he really liked it ‘cuz it’s really cool.” I asked him if he was proud of himself for riding after falling off, etc. and he said, “Yep, I sure am. Yes, indeed.”

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I’m turning (or have turned, I should say) into one of those people who comments on the weather and “how time flies.” But I really do have a hard time wrapping around the idea that spring has nearly sprung. We’ve even seen some more sun this past week. My flowers are starting to come up! But seriously, how is it almost March? And another question: we’re what? Half-way through Lent? How is it going to be Easter soon? We just had Christmas! Jesus was just born and now we’re going to turn around and crucify him already? That was the quickest 33 years ever! Give the guy a break already.

Back to the pleasant springtimey weather. Thankfully, we’ve managed to get out and enjoy it. We’ve been to the park a few times and I’ve taken the boys out in the double-jogging stroller twice on runs. It’s been a while (maybe since the last continuous time of sun) that I pushed the boys on a run. I’m out of shape…pushing 80 pounds of stroller and boy is WAY harder than it used to be. (Plus the boys have each gained a couple of pounds). If I took the boys out just once a week for a month, I would be SO ripped. Or at least my left arm muscles would be bulging! (Matthew always sits on the left side and that’s my weaker arm anyway). That’s a great image: huge, rippling, ginormous left arm muscles and wimpy little girly right arm. Would I walk a little lop-sided to make up for the difference in weight? (Yes, these are the questions that plague me and keep me up at night).

Anyway, on our run yesterday, we came upon another couple fellow runners. The first was another running mama with single kidlet jogging stroller and dog on leash. There’s something about that connection that can’t quite be explained. The way we looked at each other as we said “hi” was just…well, magical. It’s so much more than just “hi.” Did she feel it the way I did? Was she as impressed with me as I was with her? I feel, at least, that when you pass another running mama (or papa, for that matter), in your head you’re thinking, “You rock. I know how hard it is to get out the door, to keep these little people happy while you run, and therefore, how dedicated you are. You rock, man. You seriously rock.” (Yes, ALL of those sentiments are hidden behind that simple “hi” greeting).

Fellow runner #2 encounter was a hard-core running guy. (Like he had the running tights and everything). I had that tingly feeling of someone behind me on the sidewalk and seeing as our double-wide takes up nearly the entire width of the walkway I pulled aside to let him pass. (Yes, we’re so wide, in fact, that people have to step off the trail into the underbrush to allow us by). So, Running Guy goes flying past us and again I wondered, “Does he think I rock? He must be kind of impressed that I’m pushing this big thing even if it does mean that I move at a turtles’ creep?” Which reminded me of something else: The Tortoise and the Hare. I asked Matthew if he thought the guy was racing me and should I try to keep up. Matthew was totally into it. And I must say that that kid ROCKS in the stroller. I’ve trained him well to cheer me on, but he goes above and beyond my teachings saying things like, “faster, Mommy. Come on. Don’t let him get away. Move it! Feel the burn!! FASTER! You’re losing!!” My goal wasn’t to whoop the guy as I figured that was out of the question. I had two handicaps: my legs were half the length of his and I was pushing 80 pounds. My goal was, however, to not let him out of my sight. I managed that – for about a block I trailed not too, too far behind him. And then the magic of the Tortoise and Hare happened! He totally kicked it into gear and sped ahead. I could still see him hauling butt down the path, but then, oh but then! I saw him suddenly stop and start walking in slow circles doing that bending over/gasping thing that you do when you’ve exerted just a bit too much trying to be all macho and stuff. I excitedly reported to my Race Coach between gasps, “Matthew! We’ve totally got him! He pushed too hard. He’s just like the Hare. We were slow, but slow and steady, man. Haha! The Tortoise always wins. Suckuh!” (OK, I didn’t say Suckuh ‘cuz I don’t want my four year old to start saying it, but these are the words that pop into my head when I’m trying to self motivate during a run). As I passed Running Guy – I’ll admit, at an increased pace for show and jab – I realized something. Oh, he was waiting to cross the street in the other direction. He wasn’t going straight like me (and therefore had the walk sign). Right. He was waiting for his crosswalk sign to change. Oh well. It was a good ego burst for a while there. And I did keep him in my line of vision for a full block. That’s gotta count for something.

By the time I concluded my run at the big park near our house, the boys were ready to get out and run themselves. I unstrapped Matthew and he went flying up the hill towards the playground. Zach was so excited about his new found freedom that he went sprinting too – just a little too fast. He lost control and did a total face plant-scrape along the pavement of the path. Blood and scrapes under his nose, top lip, bottom lip and chin. Great. Mom of the year award. Why do I not keep him in a hockey face mask/helmet all the time?! Well, it’s not the first fat lip this not-yet-two-year-old has had… I’m fairly sure it’s not his last either.

And speaking of helmets, we’re looking at a big day here in the Martin household. It’s Saturday, it’s sunny and it’ll be Matthew’s FIRST EVER day riding a bike!!!! We bought him a little starter bike w/training wheels at Target, and Mike got it all put together last night. (I might add that the instructions indicated the bike would be put together in a snap – fifteen minutes! – it took Mike two hours and by no lack of skill. He can follow instructions like no one I know. So the 15 minute assembly time must mean that’s how long it would take a race track pit crew). We got Zach his own bike helmet for riding the tricycle now that Matthew will be moving on up to big boy bike world.

I’m afraid. Two boys on self-propelled transportation devices. Just to be on the safe side, I think I better stock up on bandaids, first aid kits and ice packs. And chocolate…for me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

We had a mega-huge event for Engaged Encounter on Saturday night. Mega-huge makes it sound like a car sale at a dealership or something, but it was actually a much classier extravaganza then that. We’ve needed to do a recruiting event for some time now, but no one has stepped up to plan it. Now, let me introduce to you the mastermind behind our stress: Michael Martin. The event was all his brainchild. The original idea was to have a Prom for married couples. He wanted to take me to Prom! That idea, however, was immediately shot down by some of our older team couples – they said there was no way they were going to get dressed up in formals and tuxes and it would, therefore, be a turn-off for perspective new couples as well. So, the idea morphed into a Valentine’s dinner and dance. We invited all the married couples who had attended the retreats in the last several years and had filled out a ‘yeah, we’d like to get involved someday’ volunteer form. Panic started to set in when we sent the evite out and realized we’d invited hundreds of people! In the end we had 84 people RSVPed to attend though we only had 64 actually show up. (I guess there are ten couples still driving around Issaquah trying to find St. Joe’s Catholic Church).

The evening was a HUGE success. Everything really did go off without a hitch. We spent four hours in the morning decorating the hall and totally transformed it, we came home for two hours, beautified ourselves (and man, do we clean up good!), and went back to St. Joe’s. We had a marvelous time and met some fantastic couples who all seem pumped to join our group. (Or married persons’ cult, if you will). I had the pleasure of MCing the event, and well, you know me and a mic. And Mike. I love ‘em.

Considering that we’d abandoned our boys pretty much all day on a Saturday, we thought that a family outing on Sunday (despite our fatigue) was in order. So, after church, we headed to the zoo. Ma and Pa Buckley got us a membership for Christmas and we’ve already put it to good use. The boys and I actually took them with us on Friday (so this was our 2nd trip to the zoo in three days)! On Friday, our trip was all about the gorillas. Sunday – it was the bats. Matthew was finally feeling brave enough to venture into the Nocturnal house for the first time. In the end, he decided that bats are really cool.

The gorillas have always been one of my favorite animals. There was a time – circa 6th grade – that when I grew up I was going to move to Africa to live with them in the jungle. I think dad provided me with the wake-up call that I would really miss the luxuries of home, but more than that was the mention of huge jungle-y spiders that sealed the deal. I do have a stuffed gorilla still, so between that and the zoo, I get my primate fix.

On Friday, shortly before we departed the zoo, we made a stop at the gorilla camp. We were watching them when a woman started walking by behind us on the zoo path. She had a poodle. A poodle?! Dogs aren’t allowed at the zoo! But this poodle was an in-training helper dog. (I didn’t know poodles did that, they always seem too high maintenance and froofy to me). As she hurried by she spoke out loud saying, “I know. I know. We’re getting out of here as fast as we can. Don’t worry. I know you don’t like dogs.” I think we were all wondering, “What the heck is up with this dog chica?” Within moments we had our answer.

The gorillas flipped out! They obviously watch us and are way more aware of what’s going on our side of the glass than we give them credit for. Several of them stood up and glared that dog all the way down the path. It looked as if one of them had been posted on guard, had alerted the others of the potentially dangerous predator (POODLE…what a killer!) and On-Guard Gorilla held a stick – ready to defend his turf should he need to. It was fascinating!

The next group of gorillas (the two groups are always kept separate) had a new baby to show off. The little four month old ape baby (would that be a bapey?) was clinging tight to his mama. Two of the bigger gorillas suddenly started to scuffle over some food and mama gorilla turned into protective mode, roaring and breaking the two apart while she ran to the other side of the glass. (Right in front of where my mom and I stood). We had a perfect view of the baby gorilla; unfortunately we also had a perfect view of the mama gorilla. She proceeded to turn around and answer a call of nature so to speak. Then she, uh, how to put this delicately? She was impatient for the call to conclude on its own, so she reached up and, um, pulled the remainder of the call out…OK, yeah, it was gross. And I’ll just stop there. I don’t know who said it, (could’ve been me) but someone said, “Wow. That’s Mother Nature at her finest.” When you gotta go, you gotta go.

While I do often refer to my children as “monkeys” and I do occasionally feel like I live in a zoo – watching the mama gorilla made me glad to live in a place with things often taken for granted: plumbing, toilet paper, privacy.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to ya. We started the celebrations early – we had a really good day yesterday. The sun was out which is so rare these days, it makes all of us pasty-white Seattlites crawl out of hibernation. When the sun was first trying to break through a thick bank of clouds, Matthew said, “Look, Mom – the moon!” I had to correct him; sadly my children didn’t even remember what the sun was.

I was starting to worry that we would never get out of our cranky curse. Since last week, we – me and the kids especially – have been fighting the effects of “bijiggitiness.” That’s our word for feeling generally blah, cranky and stuck in a funk. We were losing the battle. Thankfully, yesterday, that really turned around. After preschool we went and played at the park for an hour. Matthew had some sugar to burn off from his “Celebration of Caring and Sharing” Party. (Is it no longer PC to say “Valentine’s Day”?). Plus, it was beautiful, so everyone and their mother, their dog and their long-lost cousin found their way outside. It’s really like we’re zombies or something – stumbling out of houses, blocking the light with your arm, completely disoriented in this new colorful and not just blah-gray world.

We had a fantastic time at the park and then came home for lunch and naptime/quiet time. Matthew and I were playing Legos in his room. I told him that I’m so impressed with the different vehicles that he can create; I said it makes me very proud to watch him. And he said, “You make me proud, Mommy.” Huh?! “I do? What do I do that makes you proud?” Without skipping a beat or breaking his Lego-building focus, Matthew responded, “You watch over me. Keep me from getting lost. Make sure that I don’t get into trouble.”

Oh my gosh, he gets it!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I was having a very weird dream at 1:30 this morning. It’s one of those where I can’t really remember the details; it’s all quite foggy. I know that there was a bunch of people in it. All of a sudden the people began speaking like Zachary – cute little baby voice with words mingled like “nigh-night” and “nums” and lots of “mama….nigh-night?” I woke with a start to wee little Zachy standing two inches from my face.

So, all in all, life without the crib has gone surprisingly well. We took down the crib and the changing table and generally emptied the room quite a bit. We put his mattress in the corner cozied up between the wall, his book case and a large bean bag dolphin (to limit the whole rolling out situation). The plan was to go twin bed shopping this past weekend, but he’s actually doing so well and loving his little “big boy bed” so much, that we’ve decided to wait a while. Why mess with a good thing?

The first night that he slept in his new “room-bed,” he got up a few times. He would stand at the door trying to turn the kid locked-door handle. After a while he started calling, “honey??? Hon? HONEY!” (I’m still not sure if he was calling for Mike or me). But overall, he’s done quite well. The one big issue is that we had to remove the space heater from his room (lest he play with the dials in his new-found freedom). That room gets very cold with the door closed. So, after he’s asleep, we open his door, make sure the blankets are on him and call it good. Except for the few nights when I’ve woken to a Zach-dream and Little Man in my face, it’s gone fairly well.

I hosted book club last night, and told my girls that they should all go down and see Zach’s new room set-up. Zach immediately went flying down the hall and had to get in his bed and go “nigh-night” to demonstrate how it works. I think he likes it! Though I still really don’t like that my baby’s growing up.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Holy little stinkin’ Houdini, Batman! Zachary (aka the “Monkey”) is living up to his nickname. Our dexterous, agile wall-scaling, head-sticking-(and stucking)-through-stair-banister, jumping-into-bathtubs-fulling-clothed CHILD is now scaling up and out of his crib in three seconds flat. I guess I should be surprised that it’s taken him 21 months to figure out how to shimmy himself out. I miss the semi-freedom of the last 21 months already. I miss the days of being able to keep at least one of my monkey-offspring in legal-baby/child-captivity devices. It was nice while it lasted.

Last night after time-and-time-again of taking Zach back to his room, I finally decided to sit in the chair to a.) watch the magic in action and b.) return him to the crib every time he got out. I watched as Zach swung his leg WAY up over the side of the crib and lower himself to the floor with the stealthy agility of a cat burglar. He crept-scurried across the floor to the door where he stood twisting and rattling the handle until achieving victory. The door swung open. Zach looked back and flashed the biggest and most valiant smile I’ve ever seen. Dimples flashing at me in the dark, he paused, the thought bubble above his head reading, “Freedom, ahh sweet freedom. Let me just revel in this for a moment. Ha! Even more fun is the fact that, now if I run down the hall, she’s totally going to chase after me, and that’s just HILARIOUS! Muahh-ahhh-ahhh! [evil baby laugh] I hold all the power.”

This forces Mommy Me to face two very sad and difficult realities: a.) my baby is done with the crib (that I planned on keeping him in until he was 13…or 3 whichever came first) and b.) my baby can wander the house at night getting into all sorts of mayhem and keeping the household sleepless for…years. Crap.

Always brimming with support and advice, my friend Molly – who, by the way, I adore – suggested that I try the playard/porta-crib. A very ingenious idea, thought I. Zach laughed and spat in my face at this idea (figuratively though sometimes literally). He escaped the “play pen” (the non-P.C. term) in a little under a minute.

My afternoon now has a new plan: empty Zach’s room of all dangerous, life-threatening things and furniture to turn his room into his new “crib.” He’ll be sleeping on the floor on the crib mattress until we get around to buying him a real bed this weekend. Until he gets over the excitement, I will stumble after him at night as he explores his free reign – bumping off the walls with fatigue, mind you. (That’s me doing the bumping…he never tires. Ever).

Monday, February 04, 2008

Ahh, FACEBOOK, it’s like middle school and high school all over again. For those of you lacking the Facebook 4-1-1, it’s an on-line world of networking, connecting with friends – old and new. You can search for old classmates and do all kinds of legal, addictive crazy-fun, on-line stalking. It’s also a black hole/vortex/time-sucking procrastinating mechanism. I somehow just managed to spend two hours creating my profile and adding photos. It’s a lot of pressure. Just what kind of ME do I want to portray to my former classmates, and friends-of-friends?

Facebook really is teen-pressure for older folk. I even joined due to my inability to resist peer pressure. It was definitely the “all the cool kids are doing it” kind of a scenario. But man! The pressure! Once you’re on Facebook then it’s a race to see who can prove their coolness and popularity (and therefore, purpose and wholeness as a human being) by having the most friends. I’m happy to say that just after joining a little over an hour ago, I already have nine friends. I am SO cool.

It’s a good thing that I’m making/reconnecting with friends seeing as I’m having issues with one of my dear ones. So this friend – who shall remain nameless lest she…wait. Correction: I now have TEN friends. See, I told you I’m addicted…and cool. Anyway, so this friend and I were quite close. She also has kiddos and our offspring were good buddies. However, due to scheduling conflicts at this time, we rarely see one another. For the past several months, she and I have only spoken because I phoned her. Should I take the hint? We’re going on probably six months now and we’ve only talked because I initiated conversation.

At any rate, I was discussing with Matthew at breakfast this morning that I’m a bit sad to no longer be so close with this friend. I said that the fact that she never called me anymore made me wonder if maybe she didn’t really want to be my friend. Matthew said, “Well, mom, you are a-die-able.” “A-die-able?” I asked. “Do you mean adorable?” (Thinking, how sweet! You’re right, she SHOULD want to be my friend, I AM adorable.) Matthew continued, “No, Mom. A-DIE-able.” “Well, what does that mean?” I inquired. “It means that you’re going to die.”

So, like I said, it’s good that I’m making friends ‘cuz some of my old ones are dropping me since apparently I will be dying…and it sounds like soon. Maybe some of my new Facebook peeps will come to the funeral. I sure hope that my four-year-old does not have the gift of prophecy.

By the by, I just checked and I’m up to eleven. I rock. You might as well just go ahead and vote me Facebook Queen now.