Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stopping to breathe in the great marathon of life

We sit on the bed, a pillow stuffed behind my back to prevent the headboard from cutting into my back. Peanut sits on my left. My arm is wrapped around her, pulling her snugly against me. Loaf sits in my lap. My right arm surrounds her.

We huddle there, forming a circle. For the moment, we have no beginning and no end. We are one entity – interlocked puzzle pieces.

I read rhythmically from a book. They listen attentively, sitting motionless and silently. The only other sound is that of their breathing.

We lounge languorously against each other – their bodies lean against mine, my arms rest gently on them.

When the story ends, our trilogy is abruptly broken. Loaf leaps from my lap and lands gently on the floor. Peanut pulls quickly away, reaching for the cat lounging at the foot of the bed. I stand and walk into the kitchen to check the time.

Five minutes until my conference call.

My life these days seems to be—more so than ever before because of my training—ruled by the clock.

25 minutes on the treadmill

35 minutes on the bike

45 minutes in the pool

Alarm at 5:45 a.m.

Leave the house at 7:20 a.m. and don’t arrive home until after 9 p.m.

Drop the girls off at 9 a.m.

Pick Loaf up at 11:30 a.m.

Pick Peanut up at 1 p.m.

Lunch, laundry, e-mail, work, read.

Conference call at 4 p.m.

Dinner at 6 p.m.

Yesterday, I worked more than 12 hours.

Not that I’m complaining. I’m enjoying the challenge of training and given the choice (especially in this economy) I’d rather be busy at work than not.

But it’s starting to feel like a treadmill never stops. My 25-minute run is just the warm up that feeds an all-day marathon. At the end of the day I am both physically and mentally exhausted. I collapse into bed with aching muscles and a head spinning with all the unfinished tasks on my “to do” list.

I have a package that needs to be mailed sitting in my bedroom for over two weeks. I have phone calls to friends that go unreturned. E-mails that go unanswered.

I haven’t written a “real” blog post since this one. I haven’t read anyone else’s blog in well over a week. I used to post on Twitter daily, now I’m lucky if I swing by even once.

I know my life is not all that different from many of yours, and I don’t mean to whine. But I feel at times a little like George Jetson at the start of The Jetson’s screaming, “Jane! Stop this crazy thing!”

So today, sitting in a quiet room with my daughters folded against me felt like a supreme luxury.

In the grand scheme of life, it was an unremarkable moment—one that could have easily passed by with no one noticing. But in the whirlwind of late, I soaked it up. Drank it in. Let the calm wash over me and the moment drag out.

The treadmill cranked back up again five minutes later, but at least for a few minutes, we were still.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Mom's boots were made for walkin'

Giving further evidence to the existence of a "shoe-loving gene," my daughters love to raid my shoe closet. Here is Peanut in my favorite pair of black boots:

These boots were made for walkin'

Click here to see more great Wordless Wednesday posts.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Those lazy people in your office? Here's how they got started.

When we’re not eating, our kitchen table also serves as an arts and craft area for the girls. As such, it—and the floor around it—is often covered with scraps of paper, crayons, markers and sometimes blobs of Play-Doh.

For a long time (too long), we would pick up the aftermath of the girls’ destruction creative pursuits while they ran into another room to spread the destruction play elsewhere.

Not. Any. More.

Things have gotten a lot tougher for the Gav girls lately as Mark and I, sick to death of constantly picking up after our children, are enforcing the rule of “you make the mess, you clean it up.”

I know, I know. We should have been doing this all along, but better late than never, right?

Over the weekend, we walked into the kitchen to find the table and floor littered with about 600 markers and pieces of papers. We called the girls back into the room and told them they needed to pick up the mess.

It took some cajoling, but they both finally gave in and started putting the markers back in their box and piling the papers together.

Or at least that’s what it looked like at first.

After watching for a few seconds, it became clear that Peanut was doing all the work while Loaf simply ran around the table, occasionally stooping down to touch her toes, but not actually picking anything up.

I looked at Mark.

“Do you see this? Do you see what she’s doing? She’s letting Peanut do all the work.”

“Yep,” he nodded.

“She’s going to be fantastically successful in Corporate America someday,” I added.

“Exactly. And she’ll get promoted while Peanut gets laid off.”

So there you go. Next time someone in your office takes all the credit for work you did, or spends the day goofing off online while everyone around him/her scrambles to meet deadlines, take a deep breath and remember that he/she was once a happy little child.

A happy little child who learned to manipulate the system early on and/or did not have terribly observant parents.

The world clearly has enough of these types of folks, so don’t worry. We’re doing our best to ensure there won’t be one more 20 years from now.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

And no, you aren't seeing double from all that green beer - Peanut has a twin in this. It was either that or one of the cats!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A day in my life: Tuesday, March 10

Last week, my friend Kimberly posted photos on Facebook documenting a typical day in her life. I loved the idea, so yesterday I decided to take a crack at it. I'm not tagging anyone, because this is a little time intensive, but if you're into it - have at it (and please let me know you did it so I can come check out your photo essay).

The rules are simple:
1. Pick any day.
2. Photos should all be within a 24 hour period. (I'm hoping you'd pick a 'typical' day, if possible. But it's really your preference.)
3. Take one photo every hour that you are awake. Aim to do so in one hour increments, ie, 5:40, 6:40, 7:40, but it's okay as long as it's close to it. (You can skip shower photos.
4. The photo can be of anything you choose that gives a glimpse into your life in that hour. It doesn't HAVE to be of you.
5. Self-portraits are welcome but, really, you choose what you want to photograph to document that hour.
6. Upload the photos to Facebook, Flickr or your blog and label the album "24 hours" or "A day in the life of XXX" -- anything that makes it clear it's part of this photo challenge.
7. Have fun!

I want to apologize for the quality of some of these pictures. For all the love I feel for the iPhone, it's not really the best camera, but it had to do. So here we go!

7:30 a.m. - Breakfast

7:30 a.m. - Breakfast

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that this happened a good 45 minutes later than usual thanks to some later-sleeping children (but who is complaining?!) Can you guess whose is whose?

8:30 a.m. - Getting ready

8:30 a.m. - Getting ready

At this hour, we are in the throes of getting ready for school. The girls get dressed, I make their lunch, we brush our teeth, etc. On Tuesdays, Peanut has ballet right after school, so she wears her leotard. We also have to put her hair up, so that was what was about to happen here.

9:30 a.m. - YMCA

9:30 a.m. - YMCA

So the girls are at school and I've gone off to the gym. Here I am cruising for a spot in the YMCA's very, very, VERY crowded parking lot. As you can see, there are a number of cars ahead of me also looking for spots. After this loop, I gave up and parked on the street behind the Y waaaaaaay down the street. I really should start counting the long walks I have from my car to the Y as part of my training.

10:30 a.m. - Post-swimming

10:30 a.m. - Post swimming

Here I am fresh out of the pool looking very much like a drowned rat. After this, I took a shower and then drove back to my town to pick Loaf up from preschool.

11:30 a.m. - Pick up time

11:30 a.m. - School pick up

I pick Loaf up from school at 11:30 a.m. After this, we went across the street to a local cafe for lunch and then to . . .

12:30 p.m. - The library

12:30 p.m. - Library

. . . the library where we killed about 35 minutes before having to go back to the school to pick up Peanut and her friends for ballet.

1:30 p.m. - Waiting

1:30 p.m. - Waiting

Like I've mentioned, Peanut takes ballet on Tuesdays with two of her classmates. We three moms carpool so we each only have to drive (and also sit around and wait for 50 minutes) every 3rd week. This week, it was my turn, so here Loaf and I are chilling in the hallway while Peanut and her friends learn to pirouette and all that other good stuff.

2:30 p.m. - Driving the ballet bus

2:30 p.m. - Carpool

Class is over, and we are on our way home. And just to be clear, I was parked when I snapped this photo. No worries, people! Safety first!

3:30 p.m. - E-mail

3:30 p.m. - Work/cat time

We're back home and the girls are having a snack so I took a moment to get a little work done. Here I am checking my email. On my lap is Janey. The second I sit down, she hops into my lap, so this the view I have of my screen.

4:30 p.m. - Laundry

4:30 p.m. - Laundry

Believe it or not, somewhere under all that laundry is a pool table. At about 4:30, I decided to try and find it. And I just know this photo makes you want to break out singing "Glamourous Life," by Sheila E. <----Yeah, me neither. Le sigh.

5:30 p.m. - Bath

5:30 p.m. - Bath

It probably seems odd, but I've gotten into giving the girls their bath before dinner (unless we're having something ridiculously messy). After dinner, they're just too tired (and so am I) and a bath usually ends in screaming (them) and/or crying and pleading (me). So to make life easier on us all, we bathe before dining in this house.

6:30 p.m. - Dinner

6:30 p.m. - Dinner

After the bath, I explored the kitchen hoping to find a nice wedge of salmon or a big breast of chicken, but alas, the grocery elves had let me down again, so we went with a frozen vegetable pizza from Trader Joe's (which was actually really good!) and a spinach salad with red onions, dried cranberries and walnuts. Not bad for having to pull it out of thin air.

7:30 p.m. - Work

7:30 p.m. - Work

After dinner, I read to the girls for about 30 minutes and then put on an episode of "Curious George" for them to watch. They don't watch TV all day, but they typically are allowed one show before bed. While they watch, I try to squeeze in a little more work. Here I am sitting before the (highly unflattering) glow of my laptop.

8:30 p.m. - Still working

8:30 p.m. - Still working

The girls are nestled all snug in their beds and I am still working away.

9:30 p.m. - Winding down

9:30 p.m. - Brushing my teeth

Brushing my teeth, washing my face, packing up stuff for work tomorrow, etc.

And no, I have no idea why this photo looks like it was smeared with Vaseline.

10:30 p.m. - Bed

10:30 pm - Bed

If you look closely under that cat and that book (which is not a cheesy romance novel, but the classic Rebecca), you will find a very sleepy me, just about to switch off the light. It's been a long day and my alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow so I need to get to bed. Good night y'all!

(I'm considering doing this again tomorrow, since it's an office day for me, and as you can imagine my work days are vastly different. But we'll see. I'm not sure how exciting 8 consecutive shots of my laptop would be, but maybe I can find some more creative things to show.)

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

No skating today (because it's 60something degrees - WOO HOO!)

Gorgeous 60something-degree day

We had a little taste of spring here in NJ this weekend and it was glorious.

On Saturday, we took the girls to a park and didn't have to wear jackets. It was too hot! (Global warming rocks.) Though apparently everyone in the state feels the same way because the park was so crowded there was a traffic jam and you could barely walk through it without bumping into someone.

Sunday was a little more overcast and cooler, but still wonderful. Mark played soccer, I went for a nice outdoor run and then we hit the local playground. Tomorrow, we're back to a much more seasonable 47-degrees, which is OK. Despite my earlier comment, I'd really prefer the Earth stay within it's normal temperature range if for no other reason than because I think polar bears are awesome and I'd like them to be around for the long haul.

Oh, and while we're talking about the weekend, I would just like to officially welcome back Daylight Savings Time with a huuuuggggeee hug and kiss.


Peanut actually slept in today until 6:30 a.m. I know that sounds RIDICULOUSLY early to a good number of you out there - those of you without kids, or with older kids, or anyone who has been lucky enough to be blessed with children who are late sleepers. But Peanut is an early riser. Really early.

When DST ended last fall, she was getting up around 4 a.m. We did manage to push her back a bit, but pretty much every day this winter she's been up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. I think there was that one day that she slept in until 6 a.m. and I actually went in to make sure she was breathing.

So now we're back on a sane schedule. At least until the fall.

So that was our weekend. Did you do anything fun? How is your household handing the changing the of the clocks?

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Fear and loathing in the local elementary school

Today was kindergarten registration in my town.

Last year at this time, we were debating whether to send Peanut to the pre-K program at her preschool, or send her to kindergarten. We decided on pre-K, and have not regretted it for a second. The program is excellent. She has flourished under it—gaining confidence and social skills, as well as moving her fine-motor skills much closer to where they need to be.

When the big manila envelope from the elementary school arrived two weeks ago, I shrugged it off.

“She’s ready,” I thought. “So ready.”

But there is still a problem.

You see, I am not ready.

Not ready at all.

I sat there today, in the lobby of that school. And at first I felt fine. I chatted with the other moms. I realized Peanut will likely be on the middle- to older-end of her classmates, which is great. I watched her play with a pile of toys and every so often she’d run over to me and say excitedly, “When do we go register, Mom? Is it our turn yet?”

I felt good.

She’s so ready.

Then, suddenly, the hall was filled with students. Class after class walking by us in a line. So many students. Big students. So much bigger. Taller. More mature. Boys in jeans and sports-logo shirts laughing loudly. Girls with braces (braces!!) in low-slung pants and Ugg boots.

I watched them, these children. I watched how they looked at Peanut, my daughter, with an air of superiority that comes with being the Big Fish in the pond. I saw their knowing, smug looks. I saw the way they smirked at her, undoubtedly thinking, “oh look at that little girl there, playing with toys. TOYS!" ::snicker snicker::

And as each passed a vice tightened more and more snuggly around my heart.


Fear of the unknown. Fear of sending her out from under my wing. Fear of her being picked on, or afraid. Fear of her having no friends. Of being the odd kid. The one eating at the lunch table alone. Fear of her coming home in tears. Fear of some brute grabbing her backpack away from her and tossing it to his friend. Fear of name-calling and bullying and cliquishness.

Fear, fear.

So much fear.

I wanted to snatch her up—my baby, this child that I birthed, like, yesterday—wrap her in my arms, run from the lobby and never look back.

I sat there, feeling my heart pounding in my chest. I turned my face away from the other mothers so they would not see the tears struggling to leak from my eyes. I pressed a finger to the corner of each eye, swallowing hard, trying to keep it all in.

“Mrs. Gav?” called the woman at the front desk.

Peanut jumped up and grabbed my hand. “It’s our turn, Mommy! It’s our turn. Come on! Come on!”

She is so ready.

The question is, when will I be?

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