Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Finally, redemption!

I’ve never been much of an athlete. I was always that poor, pathetic girl who was the next to the last one picked for teams in gym class. The only reason I was not picked dead last was because of Russell H. Russell was my saving grace – the least popular boy in school and somehow even less athletic than me.

And there would be the team captains – usually Billy M. or Shannon or Pam – the best athletes in my elementary school grade, who, faced with the horrible choice of me or Russell would slump their shoulders, roll their eyes and begrudgingly relent with a huge heaving sigh and say, “Kim.” They way they—particularly Billy M.—acted, you’d think they were being given the option to either chug puke or roll around in dog shit. I mean really. We’re talking dodgeball or maybe Steal the Bacon here. No one was going to go home with a Superbowl ring or anything, you know?

That left the other captain to pout about getting stuck with Russell, who as a defense mechanism to ALWAYS being picked dead last would actually try to sabotage the efforts of his team by kicking the ball deliberately out of bounds or just standing there and watching it whoosh by over his head. I at least tried. I sucked, but I tried.

But anyway, I digress. Today, I made up for all of that humiliation. Because today, I made a save that Gordon Banks himself would envy.

Loaf was sitting on the couch, which has become her most favorite pastime (and after today, it is totally blocked off with an impenetrable wall of coffee tables). I was sitting about five feet away on one of the aforementioned coffee tables (which prior to today’s reassignment of barring her from the couch barred her from opening the armoire and turning on the TV). Suddenly, she turned, back to the edge of the couch and tumbled—horribly—head first toward the floor. Even worse, her head was angled directly toward the hardwood floor vs. the area rug in front of the couch.

However, Mom was there to save the day. Even as visions of the ER and x-rays and stitches to the head flashed through my brain, with lightning quick speed and reflexes I didn’t even know I had, I leapt from the coffee table, lunged forward and caught her head in the palm of my hand inches before impact. It was a damn good feeling.

So, Billy M., wherever you are – take that. And suck it.

Who comes up with this stuff?

Today in the mail I received an invitation to try a new magazine. The outside of the envelope states, “The new magazine for the woman within the mother,” which sounds pretty good, right? Then you get to the inside letter which reads, “What do smart, sexy, stylish moms do? You’ll find out when you accept our invitation to try Cookie, the new magazine for moms.”

Cookie? Cookie!?!? Are they serious? What idiot came up with that name? I can appreciate the need for a magazine that melds hip fashion and beauty tips with parenting advice. I would love something like that. But I have hard time believing such a magazine holds the name Cookie. In fact, I envision Cookie is the type of magazine that has lots of pictures of moms baking pies and vacuuming in pearls.

And you have to check out the logo on this thing. Does that say smart, sexy WOMAN to you? What the hell are these people thinking? I would be embarrassed to have that laying on my coffee table. I’m afraid this smart, sexy, stylish mom is going to have to pass.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mark on the porch with a butcher knife

I had to ask Mark tonight if he would still love me if I only had 9 toes after he nearly amputated one (accidently, of course).

We ate dinner out on the porch and were cleaning up. I was walking onto the porch and he was walking off, carrying a cutting board with this bad boy balanced on it. As he tried to manuever around the high chair, the knife slid off and landed, blade down, right on top of my big toe. Ouch!

I couldn't even look. And when I did finally look, I kept checking. And rechecking. Because it only left the teeniest bit of a cut right at the knuckle of the toe. I'm amazed-and grateful-that the damage wasn't worse.

So how do I leverage this? Guilt him into giving me a foot massage? Leave the kids here for the day with him and get a pedicure? Buy new strappy sandals that hide my bandage? Maybe all of the above? I mean, the man nearly amputated a crucial digit. That's got to be good for something. :-)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Schools out! And I'm pretty bummed.

Peanut’s last day of preschool was Tuesday. Today is the first day she should have gone, but didn’t and I already miss those six blessed hours a week when I was responsible for the well being of only one child. I get so much done when Peanut is at school, primarily because I’ve had the amazing good fortune of Loaf napping during nearly those exact same hours. So really, for nearly six hours a week, I’m not responsible for the well being of anyone but myself, and that’s pretty damn good.

I usually use those six hours to work since I must log a few hours from home each day. If there’s no work to do, I get a helluva lot done around here. I clean or garden. Or sometimes I surf the web. Or paint my toenails. Or do yoga. Or chat on the phone with a friend. It’s a good part of my week and now it’s gone for the whole summer.

Making the loss even more bitter, Peanut’s school is closing for good with the owner/head teacher moving to Tennessee. Next year, Peanut will attend a different school and while I researched and visited all the preschools in this town (there are three remaining) and feel I have made a really good choice, her existing situation is a very special slice of preschool heaven.

As a Waldorf-inspired school, it emphasizes learning through creative and imaginative play. Natural materials (such as wooden toys and beeswax crayons) and a connection to the outdoors are also stressed. Her typical school day begins with lunch (we pack it), then moves on to free play, story and song circle, a craft (watercolors or modeling with beeswax are common), a snack (I’ll get to that in a minute), a short rest and then outdoor play in all but the most foul of weather. At Waldorf schools, teachers adhere to the philosophy that childhood is a magical time and that learning through imitation is most effective. This all melds so seamlessly with our parenting values, it’s as if we dreamed it up ourselves.

For example, the snack: Each week, the children at her current school pitch in and (with help) bake a few loaves of organic, whole wheat bread. This bread is then eaten, with honey and an organic apple, for a snack each day. It is wholesome. It is healthy. And because the kids play a role in baking the bread, they love it. And they learn. They learn about teamwork and roles. They learn about good food. They learn about the reward of doing something yourself. And they learn to pitch in and clean up after a task.

Next year, snacks are provided on a rotating basis by the parents in her class. And I’ve already heard that it not uncommon for parents to bring such utter, nutritionless, unhealthy crap as donut holes. And chips. And fruit punch (not even juice. Fruit. Friggen. Punch.) We don’t do donuts here. As a rule, we don’t eat chips. And I really am less than thrilled to have her snack – three afternoons a week – at the mercy of a bunch of parents who have no problem loading their kids up with junk food on a regular basis. So? Yuck. I’m less than thrilled about that and the year is still weeks away from starting.

Another detail: Peanut’s current school bans all displays of TV and movie “characters” on clothing, lunch bags, shoes, etc. This may seem like a minor detail, and in the grand scheme of the world’s issues I concede that it is, but I like the idea that she attends school free from the influence of the media. Peanut’s current teacher stresses TV-free homes (a formidable goal that is certainly not realistic for most parents). The thinking goes that being free of media influences helps a child to grow in other creative ways and allows them to find wonderment all around them and not simply on the lighted box in the corner blasting Nickelodeon.

I know, I know. I sound naïve and idealistic. But what is wrong with wanting your child to be artistic and creative? To stretch her thinking? She has her whole life to fall under the influence of ads and media and trends. Does it really need to start before she’s even three? No, it does not.

So when I picked her up Tuesday, I felt profoundly sad. I carefully photographed her first classroom with the giant vacant hornet’s nest hanging near the story circle, and the funky, colorful sheer cloths draped in the corners, and the nature table, and that amazing, life-sized wooden dollhouse. Because someday she will ask me about her first school, and this is the one I want to highlight.

I know she will do fine at her school next year – she’ll make new friends, be well taken care of and learn all kinds of remarkable new things. She’ll adapt to the new routines and policies very quickly. By the time the leaves fall from the trees, her current school will be a distant memory to her. Me on the other hand? I might have a little more trouble adjusting. Because I’ve seen the perfect preschool. And I won’t forget the lessons learned.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


That was the exact mileage reading on my car's odometer when I pulled into work this morning. It means nothing, but I thought it looked pretty cool. Maybe it's good luck or something, like looking at the clock when it's 11:11?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

You say it's your birthday . . .

Oh. It’s not? Well it’s mine!

I turn 37 today. Three. Seven. Thiiiiirty seeeevvvven. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like say, six. Or sixteen. Or hell, even plain old thirty.

I am trying to absorb the wise and very zen philosophy of my good friend Karen who said not to sweat it - that it is only a number. After all, that’s largely true. It’s really only a teensy tiny part of who I am. I’ve always believed age was more of an attitude anyway. Throughout my life I’ve known some very old 20-year-olds and some incredibly young 60-somethings.

And I also truly believe that each and every one of my 37 years (37!!) has helped shape who I am today, which I like to think is a pretty OK person. I don’t lie. I don’t steal. I don’t even (usually) speed anymore. I hold the door for others. I don’t yap on my cell phone in the middle of public places. I don’t tailgate. I think it’s important to be polite and say “please” and “thank you,” even though most people don’t do either anymore. I believe in karma and think it’s critical to be kind to others (including animals). I believe in the importance of charity. I pray. I try not to take what I have for granted and to be good to the earth. I take care of my family and myself. I love my children, my husband, my family and my friends. I am infinitely blessed.

So why am I having such a hard time with this? Why do I stand with my nose three inches from my mirror and scrutinize every little line, cursing every year that has played a role in putting it there?

Aren’t those lines the result of the laughter, the tears, the joy, the pain, the infinite sweet surprises that every day life brings? And OK, maybe all that sunbathing in my teens played a role too, but I still think each one of those lines tells a bit of a story. A mini badge of honor paid in full with raw emotion.

So, yeah. I’m 37. To today’s college students I’m ancient. I’ve got a few gray hairs, a bit of a “mommy tummy,” and a few wrinkles on my brow. I also have an amazing history and, I dare say, a lot of really great years ahead of me. My family is young and full of promise. Life is good. And I have high hopes that it will continue to get better.

To paraphrase a quote from one of my favorite women, I’ve still got life by the lapels. It’s a bitch and I’m still going to kick some ass. Maybe I'm not zen, but I'm not giving up either. And that is just going to have to be good enough for now.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Oh the shame

Lately, Peanut has taken to throwing random objects at Loaf. Some of these objects are more potent (a big plastic block) than others (a Beanie Baby), and luckily her aim is pretty bad. Even still, we've had to impose a "no throwing" rule.

So this morning, Peanut takes my eyeglasses case and tosses it in Loaf's general direction.

ME: Peanut, don't throw things at your sister.
Peanut: I wasn't throwing it at her.
ME: No throwing anything, at all please.

At which point she picks up a small rubber ball . . . you know? The one we were playing catch with prior to the incident, tosses it into the hallway and looks back at me with a wry smile. Oh how I hate being outwitted by a not-quite three-year-old. :-/

Friday, June 09, 2006

The rest of the menagerie

Originally uploaded by KGav.

Meet BadCat.
• She was an alley cat from back when we lived in a multifamily house surrounded by concrete and crammed 3 feet from the houses on either side.
• One night she was sitting on our step purring so I brought her up.
• She knows a sucker when she sees one.
• She’s loud.
• Really loud.
• Our daily routine goes something like this: Sunrise. Let BadCat out. 15 minutes pass. See BadCat sitting on windowsill meowing to be let in. Move to different room. Cat moves to different windowsill. Let cat in. 5 minutes pass. Cat begins meowing to get out. Repeat until sunset.
• But she’s an awesome cuddler. She likes to curl up next to you and put her head on you like you are her pillow.
• And she has really soft, shiny fur that feels like black velvet.
• I chose this photo, because she generally does not photograph well. Her eyes tend to look pupil-less in pictures. This is one of the few where she does not look demonic.


Meet Cottons
• She is a manx, but she has a tail.
• She is old.
• Really old.
• I got her when I was a sophomore in high school. Let’s just say, perms and shoulder pads were “in” and Michael Jackson was still dark skinned when she was born.
• She was born in a farmhouse outside of Albany, NY. My mom brought her home as a surprise for me after another cat died. She was in a box, and because all I could see was white fur, I thought she was a rabbit.
• She sleeps 22 hours a day.
• The other two hours are spent yowling for food and water.
• She’s my first love. That cat’s been there for me through puberty, college, my first job, my crappy first apartment, my wedding and the birth of both my kids.
• She has the most beautiful blue eyes and a double coat of fur so she’s incredibly soft.
• I will be devastated when she dies.
• I chose this photo because I think she looks beautiful here. It was taken only two years ago, but she has so much more youth and energy in this picture than she does currently.


Meet George
• George is a Rhodesian Ridgeback that we adopted from the Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue Organization.
• He was five when we got him and is 10 now.
• He is not the brightest animal, and he’s stubborn as all hell, but he’s generally a good dog.
• His worst qualities include constantly grubbing for food, scratching at the door, passing really stinky gas and not listening.
• His best qualities include being fairly mellow (he’s really just like a big sofa that moves room to room), being loyal and being a pretty good guard dog.
• George had bloat and had to have emergency surgery to save his life. The surgery cost more than my first car.
• He also knows two suckers when he sees them.
• I chose this photo because that dog loves to sit in the truck. Sometimes, we open the back of the truck and he’ll hop in and sit there all day long.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's 8:51 a.m.

So far today I have:
- stretched
- done a round of ab work
- taken a shower
- shaved my legs
- dried and styled my hair
- ironed a bunch of clothes (2 pants, 5 shirts)
- rehearsed, several times, a client presentation I am giving later today
- checked email (twice)
- cooked breakfast for myself and the girls
- ate breakfast
- washed breakfast dishes
- cleaned up breakfast aftermath left by two messy toddlers
- touched up my toenail polish
- plucked eyebrows
- played a few rounds of peek-a-boo
- read 2 stories

Whoever wrote that old ad campaign for the army, "we do more by 9 a.m. than most people do all day," obviously did not work part-time and have children.