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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Look, I sincerely apologize for my lack of Bloggage last week. My excuse (this time) is music class mania! I’m teaching like crazy right now. When all is said and done, I will have taught 14 classes of dinosaur music (our current theme). That’s nearly 10 straight hours of dino-music-madness! This is my really busy week with classes yesterday, tomorrow, Thursday and Friday. Yes, full-time teachers do this and WAY more ALL the time, but with two dino-namic offspring (and swim lessons, and getting to the gym, going for runs, writing, reading…oh talking to my husband)…I’m dino-pooped! (Well, not pooped out by dinosaurs, just dino-tired as opposed to dog-tired). Of all weeks to give up my daily, Diet Pepsi in the afternoon! What was I thinking?! (Well, here’s what I was thinking: I’ve decided that what with all the whacky chemicals and weirdness in soda – especially diet – I should switch to herbal tea which is obviously way better for you. Plus, I don’t really want to grow a third arm out of my stomach which may have happened had I continued my Diet Pepsi junkie habits. Ahhh, but Diet Pepsi – it’s good. It’s amazing. Wonderful Diet Pepsi goodness. It’s life-changing….wait. no. stop. That’s just the addict-withdrawals talking. Ignore!)

Aside from relinquishing my favorite beverage in the world (next to red wine and coffee, of course…I won’t be giving those up any time soon), I’ve had to make peace with the fact that my boys – not even close to teenagedom yet – are already planning their escape from living under our roof.

Matthew announced on the way to swimming last week, “When I’m a police officer when I grow up, I’ll live in a different country.”

First of all, I had to get over the shock that he’s moved on from being a fire fighter to another boyhood-dream occupation. Secondly, I demanded why he’s got to be all ‘I’m not only leaving you, Mom, I’m leaving the country!’

Matthew continued with his plans, “And I’ll have a wife. She’ll be my best friend.” [That’s pretty great, huh?] “And we’ll have five children – three boys and two girls.”

I’ll admit I got a little distraught that he’s already planning on not only moving away but he’ll be taking my grandchildren far away too. When I asked him what country he’d be living in he said, “One of the ones where it’s night time right now.” (As in, on the other side of the world). So, I listed off a few countries – and yes, very selfishly they were all mostly places in Europe that I’d like to visit. When I listed England, he jumped on it. “Yeah! That’s where they talk the same way we do, right? In English? I’ll live there!” Apparently, he’s opposed to learning a second language.

After I complained for a bit about how he’d be so far away and Mike and I wouldn’t get to see him, his wife/best friend and our grandchildren very much, Matthew promised that they’d come visit a lot in this way: “We’ll drive our car on to a jet – a jet that can have one car on it. And we’ll come visit.” Excellent! At least it sounds like financially our eldest may be able to take care of us in our old age. I don’t know how much police officers get paid in England, but it sounds like quite the lucrative career.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Matthew is going to be on Oprah. Seriously. If this hoarding habit of his continues, he’s heading in that direction. The boy cannot part with anything! Last night, he sobbed and yelled at me for taking down a paper Christmas wreath that had been up in his room. I explained that since the holiday was over, I was going to put it with the rest of our Christmas decorations. No. Not OK. Matthew yelled at me, “YOU BROKE THE RULE OF MY ROOM!” ‘What’s the rule,’ you ask? Yeah, I wondered the same thing but wasn’t too surprised to learn that it’s: DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING OFF OF THE WALLS. Matthew suggested that maybe we could just tape the wreath up underneath Aunt Jackie’s quilt. Hmm. Jury’s still out on that one.

In Matthew’s stocking, Santa delivered a roll of scotch tape. There must’ve been some Santa magic on that roll and/or it was JUMBO because I’m floored Matthew hasn’t used it up. I honestly thought it would be gone in a week. Matthew tapes up EVERY SINGLE little piece of paper that he has doodled on. Every piece of paper on which he’s written his name, tested his colors or drawn a robot or a John Deere or a digger…every single piece of paper gets taped up on those walls. We’re seriously starting to run out of empty wall space. And heaven forbid if I recycle a scrap of paper that had some sort of significance known only to Matthew. I’m scolded. He now digs through the recycle to make sure I’ve not pulled a fast one on him.

So, on the way home from school, I ever-so-gently broached the topic. ‘Matthew, you have a problem. And an intervention is in order. You’re tape-happy.’ Well, no, that’s what I thought but what I really said was, “Matthew, there just isn’t enough space in your room to keep every single piece of paper that you draw on. You’re going to have to start choosing your favorites. We can’t keep them all. So, either you pick some for the recycle or I will.”

A sharp intake of breath met me from the backseat. Very slowly, deliberately and with voice thick with emotion, Matthew responded, “Mom – I. Am. THE. Best. Artist. Of. The. World. I do art. That’s what I do. And my art needs to be up on my walls.”

“Yes, Matthew,” I said, “You are an amazing artist, but we just can’t keep it all.” And then, forgive me, call CPS, I did actually say, “It’s just…with all those papers up, your room is starting to look like a recycling center.”

“Mom!” Matthew gasped, “My ART is NOT recycle!!”

“No, I know, it’s not, but…um…” (what can I say that won’t land me on Dr. Phil in 12 years? OK, let’s try a different tactic). “You know, there’s another problem with keeping all those papers.”

“What?” Matthew spat.

“It’s a fire hazard. Keeping ALL those papers is dangerous.”

“Mom,” Matthew scoffed, “I know ALL about fire safety. I would PROTECT my artwork.” We talked a bit more about fire safety and then I realized that that wasn’t getting us anywhere either.

I tried a couple of other arguments that, also, brought no progress. Finally, Matthew was so exasperated, he said, “Mom. I want to be done talking about this. You’re hurting my feelings right now. I am an artist. And right now you are breaking my heart. My heart is broken by YOU, Mom.”

OK, I’m not a push-over. I’m definitely not one of those moms that looks to my children for approval, acceptance or, quite frankly, their opinion on areas of parent-type decisions, but I’m a bit stumped on this one. I did realize (especially after talking this over with a couple of people) that this is quite possibly just a phase and he’ll outgrow it a lot quicker if he doesn’t have to keep fighting it (or if WE stop fighting it). Plus, it IS true, he IS quite the artist (I’m told “the best in the world”), and I do want to support his interests and creativity. I also, however, don’t want to be Oprah because of our house being stacked wall-to-wall with scraps of paper and bits of Lego boxes and every little piece of paper that ever crossed the threshold of our home. So, for now, Matthew and I have made a deal: he can keep whatever artwork he wants but has to keep his room tidy (and I get to decide what tidy means), and if any papers are left on the dining room table or kitchen counter then I get to file them into the recycling – where they will stay! We shook on the deal.

Man, artists are hard to live with!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I have ITBS which is not to be confused with IBS. What I have pertains to the southernly body regions but, thankfully, more southern than the bowels. Iliotibial Band Syndrome is: “one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The iliotibial tract is a superficial thickening of tissue on the outside of the thigh, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee.” (Thank you, Wikipedia). So, the best thing you can do to treat ITBS? Stop running!! Which to some may seem like a dream come true. Yeah, not to me. Running is my therapy, and I NEED therapy!

I’ve spent this week (ever since Monday morning’s pain-filled run) trying to figure out how to deal with this (i.e. how to make this ITBS situation disappear like it never existed ever). I’ve gotten two different pairs of new running shoes to try (pair #2 definitely helped, so pair #1 will get returned), I have avoided running (sadly), but since I can’t just NOT do something, I’ve been to the gym Tuesday, Wednesday and plan to go today. I can do the Spin cycling class and some other forms of cross-training but need to avoid certain things like the treadmill (obviously), the stair climber (which I do every week), and squats (which I also do every week). I’ve been icing like crazy, and I also met with a trainer yesterday at the gym. He showed me some stretches and how to use the Big Foam Roller of Torture (my name for it) to massage pulled ligaments and muscles.

What stinks most about this injury is the fact that Andrea (the best running partner friend in the world…also known as my therapist) and I were just getting back into our running routine post-snow and post-sickness. I had three weeks off from running! Why couldn’t I have nursed this injury then?! And Andrea and I need running now more than ever to undo a wee bit of weight gain damage that occurred thanks to the snow/sick-non-running and holiday-eating that occurred for those three weeks.

AND I was just ready to announce unto the world that my hope (my plan, my goal) is to train for my first road race post-Zachary’s birth. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do a Rock ‘n Roll Marathon (a band plays at every mile!) but they only take place in far away exotic lands such as San Diego, Phoenix and San Antonio (not to mention hot lands!). Obviously, with our kids, that’s just tricky talk. But, something magical has happened, the Rock ‘n Roll chain ‘o races is coming to us!! The first ever Seattle Rock ‘n Roll Marathon will take place on June 27, 2009, and I SOOOOoooooooooooooo want to do it. The Half. Training for a Full Marathon right now would just be too draining with my kids/teaching/writing/life schedule. Plus, my mom said if I even considered running 26.2 miles again she’d have me committed.

So, the Half (13.1 miles) it is. This is actually surprisingly do-able. We already run 6 miles, 3 times a week, and I’d have plenty of time to build up my mileage gradually…if, I’m not in excruciating knee pain, that is. Yes, June is a long ways away, but I’d like to register by Feb. 28th (to get the cheaper fee) and know that I’m physically capable of committing to the training. ANYWAY, enough about my running woes.

After one of my gym workouts this week, I got Zach from the Kids’ Club (always sad to leave), and we went to pick Matthew up from preschool. I could tell, as soon as I saw him, that something was wrong. He looked ready to burst into tears. Mrs. Morris also noticed his melancholy nature and came to investigate.

We both asked him what was wrong. And trying so hard not to let the tears spill out he said, “Luke had extra brownies from his birthday treats and he wouldn’t let me have another one!”

I explained that it wouldn’t have been fair for Matthew to get two if all the kids didn’t get two and there probably weren’t enough leftovers for that…

“NO!” Matthew yelled. “I wanted the brownie for you, Mom! But he wouldn’t give it to me. I wanted to give it to you!” Yes, this is how much my children know that I love chocolate and it makes me immensely happy.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

January 8th, eh? Yeah, I think I’ve already blown it on Resolutions 1-3; however, I’m doing OK on 4 (updating blog at least once a week). So, 2009 isn’t a total bust yet.

Sunday night brought on one last bit of surprise snow craziness. Right when we think everything’s getting back to ‘normal’ – it’s a school night, I’ll get to go running in the morning, we’ll FINALLY get to have preschool again…yeah. No. We ended up going to church on Sunday evening at5:30. When we went in to Mass the rain was just starting to get a wee bit on the chunky side. An hour later, our car was totally covered and there was at least an inch or so already.

I don’t know if it was because it had been raining so the roads were already wet upon the snow’s arrival, but some combination of circumstances made for disastrous driving conditions. Yes, here in Seattle we don’t have a lot of experience driving in the snow and we don’t have the equipment to successfully cope with it, but this sudden snow storm brought out a.) the worst snow drivers ever and b.) the worst snow driving conditions which c.) made for a really terrible combo.

We’d only driven for a few blocks when we saw the first car do a complete 180 fish-tail. As we approached a fairly large hill that we needed to get up, I started to worry a bit. I was just about to suggest to Mike that maybe we go a different route home, when a snow plow truck flew down said-hill. He whipped around and parked sideways blocking the street whilst honking his horn. The driver got out and started waving his arms to the car in front of us. Yeah, don’t even try this hill! There may have been an accident somewhere up the road as he was pretty insistent on the no-passing thing, but I don’t know.

So, we continued on a different route where we passed car after car that was turning around on side streets, driving with flashers on or just plain stopped in the road. It was so strange because there wasn’t that much snow on the ground but it was really coming down and, like I said, the conditions must’ve have just been perfect for disaster. It was The Perfect Storm. Hey! That’s catchy. That should be the title of a movie or book or something.

The way we ended up driving is part of the route that I take to and from my music classes. I knew the street well enough to alert Mike as to whether a hill was coming up (or going down). As we rounded a bend, I said, “OK, and up here we go down hill to a traffic light.” Mike, being the phenomenal snow-driver that he is, gave himself plenty of stopping time.

We were sitting at the red light when Mike looked in the rearview mirror and said, “That guy is going way too fast.” A moment later we heard honking from behind us and then BUMP. Dude totally ran into us. And then Dude got into the right turning lane like he was going to pretend the Bump didn’t happen and keep driving.

I opened my door and then he opened his window. And, yeah, it wasn’t the ‘Christian’ thing to do but I immediately started in on him. It’s wasn’t “yelling” per-say, it was more my loud, stern Mommy Voice, “YOU ARE DRIVING WAY TOO FAST! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

Then Spikey Hair Dude in his Little Sporty Red Car goes, “I couldn’t stop. I just kept sliding. And I was honking. What are you doing stopped? YOU CAN’T STOP LIKE THIS! I was honking so you’d go. You can’t stop!”


During my little calm and collected exchange with Spikey Hair Dude, Mike had done the smart thing and gotten out of the car, checked the back for damage and walked over to Spikey Hair Dude.

Spikey Hair Dude looked at him and (I’ll give him credit for this) said, “Is there any damage? Are you guys OK?” Mike reassured him that we were fine. Basically Spikey Hair Dude’s Little Sporty Red Car bounced off of the spare tire on the back of our Honda CRV. If there was any damage it was to him. Our Honda CRV could eat Little Sporty Red Car for lunch! And while the jolt of the bump was the tiniest bit jarring, we were fine (just a little ticked off).

So, Spikey Hair Dude is about to drive away but then says, “I tried honking…I just couldn’t stop. I kept slipping.”


“Yeah, yeah, I tried honking…” he mumbled as he whipped into the traffic.

“BE CAREFUL!” I yelled at the Little Sporty Red Car blur that sped away into the snow storm.

“He shouldn’t have done that,” Matthew said calmly from the back seat. “That was a bad choice – bumping us.”

The rest of the way home, we saw car after car pulling over, slipping, sliding, getting stuck. I’ve never been so grateful to pull safely into our garage in my life!

So much for “normal.” By the end of the night we had 2-3 inches of snow. No morning run. No preschool. The rain did come and most of the white stuff was melted by mid-morning though, so I decided we NEEDED to get out of the house. The boys had been together NON-STOP for three weeks straight and were driving each other, us, themselves Ca-RAZY. So, we went to my favorite place in the world (well, one of them) – the gym. I figured that ripping around in the Kids’ Club would be good for them (and wonderful for me). It would, of course, change the serious attitudes that I’d been getting from my sweet, innocent offspring.

Somehow the Kids’ Club just wasn’t enough magic to immediately fix three weeks worth of cabin fever though. Within moments of arriving back home the boys were back to there same ‘ol shenanigans. Matthew was playing Lego’s in his room and yelling at Zach to get out. Zach was yelling at Matthew to let him into his room. A scuffle at the door started. I knew this could only end badly. So, I yelled for them to stop but, alas, the inevitable still happened – Zach’s fingers got slammed in the door. Saw that coming.

After a little while the hard crying turned into sniffling, snortling, snuffling. Zach wiped his eyes (more like smearing the tears around rather than clearing them away) and said, “I think I look like I have CRANKY EYES!” Yeah. Me too.

The only good thing that happened on Monday (OK, well the BEST thing that happened on Monday), pertains to the boys’ swim lessons. Monday was the first day back – the first day of a new session. We got there early so that I could pay and register. The Desk Chicky says, “Oh, we’re not offering Tiny Tots [the class that Zach and I take together] this session. We didn’t have enough teachers.” This doesn’t really surprise me as last session, Zach was the only kiddo in Tiny Tots, so it was great for him because he got a private lesson, and yet a bummer for me ‘cuz I was the only grown-up who had to be in a swim suit.

So, Desk Chicky says, “We could try him in PreSchool Level 1 (PS1). Wait, how old is he?” (For PS1 the kids have to be 3).

I immediately turn into One of Those, “Well, he’s 2 ½ but he’s a genius and he swims like a fish. He’s had Tasha for a few sessions now. She’s a great teacher and I’m sure she’ll tell you that he’ll be fine in PS1 without me.” (Fingers crossed. Please, please, please).

“Well, Tasha is teaching PS1 this session, so since he knows her I’m sure that’ll help. We’ll try it and see how he does. If he’s ready and does well in class and fine without you there, then he can just stay in PS1.”

Like forever?! We won’t have to do Tiny Tots again? I won’t have to wear a bathing suit in front of all the other parents and the entire high school boys’ swim team (they’re finishing up practice when we arrive). I try to not hyperventilate with excitement and glee. He still has to do well.

OK, Zach. This is what we’ve been preparing for. It’s your big moment. Keep your head in the game. We’re ready for this. You can do it!

And HE DID! He kicked Swim Lesson, PreSchool Level 1 BUTT. And I don’t have to shave my legs until like June!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year! But on a much sadder note: we have 357 days until Christmas! This is the part that’s just rough for me. The Christmas songs are no longer playing on the radio, people are no longer holiday-harried crazy, they’re just post-holiday cranky (plus seriously sugar-highed-and-lowed). The Christmas decorations are still up but they’re kinda saggy, definitely dusty and acting as a cruel reminder that their purpose has been served and it’s time for Christmas clean-up to commence. Bah. Hum-Bug.

We had a wonderful Christmas. The look on Zachary’s face when he saw his play kitchen from Santa was pretty priceless. And Matthew’s high-pitched, “Huh?!” at getting THREE Indiana Jones Lego’s instead of his requested two was great. Apparently he was an extra very good boy this year!

The big take this year was Mike’s Christmas gift/slash upcoming 30th birthday gift. He got to pick out a blu-ray player and surround sound home theater audio/system. It can now be said that our TV set-up is officially ‘tricked out.’ He’s a happy boy.

The best quote of Christmas day happened at my parents’ place when we were there for presents and dinner. Zach opened a gift from my brother, his Uncle Chris. It was a pair of bright orange swim goggles. Zach pulled them out of the box as if they were priceless diamonds and with the utmost sincerity and respect breathed “They’re perfect.”

Mike and I had a ‘perfect’ Christmas get-away to winter wonderland Leavenworth – a Bovarian-themed village nestled in the mountains. We stayed at the same Bed and Breakfast that we stayed at three years ago (to the day!) when Mike surprised me with our first trip there. I was pregnant with Zach at the time. So, this trip had the added benefit of enjoying wine!

The B & B owners, Mike & Cindy, are phenomenal people. And Cindy is an incredible cook. On our first morning, we ate our gourmet breakfast while watching three river otters frolic along the snowy banks of the Wenatchee River. Several bald eagles soared and swooped through the falling snow. The whole place is like a magical postcard come to life.

Despite the magical and romantic get-away, after a couple of days we did manage to pull ourselves back to reality (and yes, return to our children). While there’s nothing quite like a Bed and Breakfast escape, Zach helped the transition by serving me breakfast in bed our first morning back. (You see, he’s been very into his new play kitchen and making all sorts of play-food masterpieces). I woke up to a feast of goodness being placed on my bedside table – corn on the cob, a banana and French fries. Yellow-themed and quite the breakfast of champions.

So, it is the New Year and that does mean a time of Resolutions for one and all (and especially those list-making lovers among us). I just checked back on my New Year’s-y blog from the dawn of ’08. I attempted to not actually make a list and then – a surprise to no one who knows me – I not only listed my goals but preceded to analysis each one in deep detail. In BRIEF summary they were: 1.) To get to bed earlier and therefore get up earlier and easier (for my 6am running and writing weekdays), 2.) To listen to my Mommy Gut (as in: don’t get sent away from the doctor’s office when I KNOW something is wrong with my child) and 3.) To Just Say No (to not automatically say yes to appease my People Pleasing tendencies).

That was last year’s list. I’d say it was a pretty good list. So good in fact that I’ll keep all of them and add another: 4.) To update my blog at least once a week even if it’s not the most entertaining and educational post, I should aim to keep my readers more involved in the needless details of my life. You’re welcome.

Here’s to 2009. Cheers!