Thursday, April 30, 2009

Exploring the ruins

They were young. Not like, 18 young, but definitely early 30s young.

“How have you been?” exclaimed Girl A, embracing Girl B as she emerged from the ladies room stall.

I was at an informal college reunion at a bar in New York City. I stood at the sink washing my hands and reapplying lipstick, watching them both out of the corner of my eye.

“I’m great! I’m married,” Girl B exclaimed, extending her left hand for inspection.

“Me too!” said Girl A, repeating the gesture.

“Do you have kids?” asked Girl A.

“Noooo!” affirmed Girl B with a tone that implied Girl A had just asked her if she had herpes or some other equally nasty venereal disease.

“Me neither,” said Girl A assuredly. “They’re just too much work.”

“Yes. And besides,” added Girl B, “they ruin your body.”

At the time, I gave little thought to the remark. In fact, I probably even glanced at their lithe frames accented by Scarlett O’Hara-sized waists and silently agreed. In fact, I could even empathize with them on a certain level. After all, I was one of them not all that long ago.

But since that night, I’ve turned the conversation over in my head and I realize now that it really irritates me.

These last few months and weeks I have put my body through the paces. I learned to swim and have spent hours and hours in the pool. I have run with blisters on my feet and aching knees. I have cycled up never ending hills and in freezing cold rain and wind.

Yes, my body has flaws. A thicker waist. Certain parts aren’t as perky as they once were. I have wrinkles and crinkles and creases where there once was smooth skin. But in 11 days, I will complete my first sprint triathlon.

My “ruined” body—probably stronger than it’s ever been—will be tested and pushed. And it will cross the finish line.

It is not the thinnest it’s ever been. It is not perfect (but was it ever? No.), but it grew two babies—gave life to two little miracles—and continues to perform in ways I didn’t think possible when I was in my early 30s.

If that is what ruined means, I'm OK with that.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring? Who needs it?

Last week at this time, it was in the 50s and raining. This weekend it hit 90-degrees. Oh spring, thou art a fickle bitch.

The girls took full advantage of the heat and happily played in the sprinkler on Sunday afternoon.



No, we have not mowed our lawn yet.

Yes, on our block we are that house.





Was it hot where you are this weekend? What did you do to keep cool?


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Four years ago

Four years ago today, I looked like this:

Me - right before delivering in April '05

I know.

But four years ago tomorrow, I had this:


Which was totally, completely, sincerely, 100% worth it.

Click here to see more great Wordless Wednesday posts.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A cautionary tale about the importance of paper

Scene: The girls are painting with watercolors in the kitchen.

Loaf: I want to do another one.

Peanut: Me too!

Me: I’m sorry, but those were the last two sheets of paper. We'll have to get more at store. Finish up the ones you're doing, OK?

::Leaves room for a few minutes::

Five minutes later, I returned to find this:

We ran out of paper

Seriously . .

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I don’t know where it came from but there it was – the small, red bud of a tulip popping up from a patch of pachysandra outside the kitchen.

I’ve never planted tulips and in all the years we’ve lived in this house, I’ve never seen one in the yard. I have to assume it’s always been there, but was probably eaten by deer or rabbit or some other critter every year past.

The girls noticed it immediately.

“Mommy! Look! Look!” Peanut exclaimed. “A tulip! Do you think Thumbelina is in there?”

I immediately opened my mouth to say no, of course not. But I caught myself and pulled the negativity back before it could spill out and spoil the spring morning.

“Maybe,” I said instead. “What do you think?”

“Oh yes! Yes! I’m sure of it,” she cried. “I just know it.”

“Thumbelina is in there, Mommy!” added Loaf definitively. “She is in dat tulip.”

I considered this as we drove off to school, not sure really what to think of it all.

Thumbelina? Tulips?

When I was pregnant, friends who were mothers tried to explain to me the unlimited love I would give and receive from my children. Sure, they talked about the frustrations, but also the joys – too many to count. Yes, they mentioned the horrible, gripping fear that would take over sometimes, but also the little moments that would be so full of love.

But no one really talked about the magic that would be reintroduced into my world. The typical stuff of course: A large man in a red suit who comes down the chimney to deliver gifts. Fairies. A giant rabbit delivering candy and hiding eggs. Leprechauns. Unicorns. Witches and wizards.

But there’s much more. Children find magic every single day.

A subway ride is captivating, bringing about sparkling eyes and lasting smiles.

Skyscrapers towering into the sky require stopping on the sidewalk and craning your neck waaaay back to try and see the top.

A drive over a bridge is an utterly fascinating experience.

Tadpoles in a pond are the most awesome things in the world.

A fistful of dandelions presented to you becomes a bouquet of the finest flowers.

A simple summer day becomes a grand vacation.

Tulips hold sleeping girls no bigger than my thumb.

They believe all of these things are equally wondrous. They see them all through a lens unjaded by time and adult cynicism. They are not yet world-weary. It is all new and enchanting.

They believe, simply, that the world is magic.

And when I am with them, so do I.

Outside by our pond


Saturday, April 11, 2009


Time to color the eggs! The Gav girls had a great time coloring eggs this year as you can plainly see:

First egg to hit the dye:

The first egg

Her hands are still blue (at least it's her favorite color):

Her hands are still blue

Scene of the mess fun:


Finished product:

Soaking in the dye

Pretty colored eggs

Why is it that the pretty pastel ones taste so much better than the plain white ones you eat the rest of the year?

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Caution: Do not watch if you have a bad back

You have to watch past the first 45 seconds or so. I promise it gets better!


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Future vegetarians of America, meet your new leader. Maybe.

Today, Loaf was tired. Both she and Peanut were still up when I rolled in from the gym at just before 9 p.m. – watching James and the Giant Peach with Mark.

By the time we read to them and tucked them in, it was close to 9:30. Peanut slept late to make up for it. Loaf did not.

All day she was a whiny, difficult kid. She dissolved into tears at the slightest upset. The teeniest bump or bang resulted in fits of drama worthy of an Academy Award.

By the time dinner came around, she was the walking dead. She peered at me from her perch at the kitchen table with a glazed-over look, hair disheveled, cheeks rosy with exhaustion.

As I stood at the counter carving a rotisserie chicken, she seemed to be looking right through me – the famous seven-mile stare kids get when they’re utterly spent.

Then, she spoke.

“What are you doing, Mommy?”

“I’m carving a chicken,” I told her. “I have to take the meat off the bones so we can eat it.”


“Chickens are supposed to lay eggs, Mommy. They are not supposed to be food.”

Now it was my turn to be silent.

“Weeellll,” I explained, “some chickens are eaten. All the meat we eat used to be an animal. Most people eat animals, but you don’t have to. You can be a vegetarian like Aunt Justine if you want. Vegetarians do not eat meat.”


“Poor chicken! I feel terrible for that chicken.”

I set the knife down.

“Loaf, do you not want to eat it? I will make you something else.”

Now, at this point, I need to explain something. Mark is not a vegetarian, but he only eats meat that meets strict criteria:
1. It must be organically raised, meaning no hormones, all vegetarian feed (no ground up animal parts in its food) and no antibiotics.
2. It must be certified humanely raised. Which is tougher to ascertain, but equally important to him. He is an animal lover, and is unwilling to eat factory-farmed animals that have lived miserable, dirty, sad, tortuous lives cooped up in small pens, unable to move, living in their own filth, only to be slaughtered in the end.

Happy chickens and cows, a friend used to say. Mark only eats happy chickens and cows.

And because most restaurant and supermarket meat is not from happy chickens or cows, for the most part, Mark only eats meat in our house. (I say for the most part because certain people like my mom, his mom and certain friends know about Mark’s food rules and have happy chickens and cows available to eat when we visit).

However, the girls still eat unhappy chickens and cows in restaurants and other places and we’ve been talking lately about how and when to align their eating with Mark’s. He feels strongly about this, and thinks the girls should follow his example.

I don’t disagree with this. I’m just not sure how to introduce it.

So my asking Loaf if she wanted something else was not about catering to the whim of a fussy preschooler. Rather, I was thinking that if Loaf had strong feelings about not eating meat, even at not quite 4, I would accommodate her.

Instead, she burst into tears.

“That was my favorite chicken!”

::sob sob::

“I am so sad!”

::sob sob::

“I’ll never see it again!”

::sob sob::

“It was such a good chicken! My favorite!”

::sob sob::

And then . . .


Which, whoa. I may sometimes eat unhappy chickens, but I don’t kill them myself.

“Loaf, you didn’t even know this chicken,” I said to her (and yes, I realize that may be the most ridiculous statement ever spoken.) “This is a farm chicken. It came from a farm.”

::sob sob::

“I will miss that chicken. Poor little guy.”

There was no reasoning with her. So I stopped trying.

Instead, I boiled her a vegetarian hot dog and served it up with a side of salad.

Peanut and I ate our happy chicken while Loaf ate her veggie hot dog. When dinner was over, she burst into tears again.

“What animal is a veggie hot dog from?” she sobbed.

“It’s not from an animal. It’s from soy and vegetables.”


“I will miss that hot dog! It was my favorite.”

At which point, I realized that Loaf’s animal activism had nothing to do with happy chickens or cows, but rather with an unhappy little girl who did not get nearly enough sleep last night.

So I brushed her teeth and sent her off to bed. We’ll see how she feels tomorrow, but I can guarantee you one thing: breakfast will consist of cereal and toast. I’m staying far, far away from the bacon and eggs for a while.


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Surprise! She can be taught after all

I’m 39 years old.

Not to paint myself as an alcoholic or anything, but I’ve done my fair share of drinking over the years, though not too often to excess. The first time I was ever hung over was the day in May of my senior year in high school when my mom drove me and my friend Kim out to central New York to tour Utica College.

The night before, there was an incident involving a party, me and a two-liter bottle of raspberry wine coolers. I woke up still drunk, which simply put, is a really terrible way to start the day. Things went down hill from there. Let me assure you – wine coolers are not nearly as sweet or as pretty coming back up as they are going down.


But, being all of 17 at the time, I somehow rallied and the trip went fine, the tour was fun and I actually ended up going to Utica College that fall.

Utica, while touted by all the officials as being a “dry campus,” was actually anything but – something I learned within hours of orientation when two fraternity brothers came roaming the halls trying to persuade all the freshman girls to come to a party in another dorm later that night.

My new friends and I went (of course), but I was too terrified on that first night to do much more than sip at my cup of skunky keg beer. My first real drunken college night didn’t come until over a month later – right before a fall break when my friends and I finally screwed up the courage to attend a “bar night” at a notorious dive called Spilka’s. We were assured that we’d all get in with even the most rudimentary fake IDs, and with fraternity brothers at the door, we did.

Fuzzy navels were two for a dollar and I drank my fill. The night ended with me and my friends taking rides in the giant dryers at the all-night laundromat next door, a 2 a.m. visit to “psycho Burger King,” and unprecendented intestinal distress. That was 22 years ago, and I have not touched anything with Peach Schnapps since.

Fortunately, those really bad nights – the ones that resulted in day-long hangovers, popping of fistfuls of aspirin or Tums and late afternoon “breakfasts” of greasy fast food – were far and few between, but there’ve been enough that I really just should know better.

I’m fairly petite and it never took much to push my body from “happily tipsy” to “oh-my-God-what-have-I-done?!” Now? It takes a whole lot less. And I know my new limit. I know it because I’ve flown right over it a few times in recent years.

There was my sister-in-law’s wedding in 2007 when I not only crossed the limit – I punted myself over it like the star kicker attempting to make the final winning field goal in the Superbowl. I spent the entire day after wishing for death. Instead I got to board a plane for a five-hour cross-country flight. Good times. Good times.

But still, I don’t learn.

Two Saturdays ago, we went to a bar in New York for a college reunion of sorts. It was four hours of open bar.

Four. Hours.

Open. Bar.

Someone also bought me a shot, which tasted like death in a glass. I still have no idea what was in it, but given the impact it had on me, I'm guessing grain alcohol.

I should know better by now, right?

I spent the better part of Sunday in the fourth level of hell. Stomach roiling, head pounding. I drank four gallons of water before 11 a.m. and still couldn't bring my dehydrated body to pee.

What was different this time, is that Monday I didn’t feel much better. Part of it was exhaustion (I slept a grand total of 3 hours Saturday night), but it was more than that. My stomach was still shaky. I felt nauseous most of the day.

I hate to say it, but I think I’m just getting way too old for those types of escapades. My body doesn’t bounce back the way it did when I was 17, or 21, or even 35 for that matter.

I’ve also noticed it takes less and less to send me over the edge.

So I’m off alcohol for a while. It’s not worth it to me anymore, especially because it has such a negative effect on my training.

Friday night, I met a group of high school friends for a “Class of 1987 Turns 40” party. And I had two beers.

Just two.

Seems you can teach an old girl new tricks after all.

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Dusting off the old blog

I know.

I know.

I have royally sucked on the updates lately, but I'm pledging to be better starting this week.

In the meantime, go here to read about the panic attack I had in the pool this morning, and how I pulled myself out of it.

Back with more soon!

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