Wednesday, November 24, 2010

File under: Glad I did it, but will never do it again

I have always loved the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Growing up, I watched it every Thanksgiving morning, eagerly waiting the arrival of Santa at the end. My favorite part though was always the giant character balloons. How cool, I'd think, to see those in person.

Tonight we did! We bundled up and headed into NYC to see the balloons get inflated up on the streets of the Upper West Side. This event has evidently become as popular as the parade itself because it was packed. Police and others force everyone to walk in one direction - block to block - to see the balloons. I suppose it does help keep the crowd under control, but it has a definite cattle call feeling to it. And some people are just, well, rude. Some guy with a kid on his shoulders knocked Sophie over, looked at her and kept right on going. I mean really, a simple, "ooops, sorry," is totally necessary in that situation.

Regardless, the girls were SO excited:


We saw several balloons including . . .


Shrek's head


Hey, Kool-Aid!

As well as Sponge Bob, Hello Kitty, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Spiderman. We also skipped a whole block where a few favorites (Scooby-Doo most namely) were undoubtedly housed, but the masses, the stress of trying to hang on to your kid as other people constantly pushed between you, the slow-as-molasses crawl in one direction through the streets and two tired, hungry girls, forced us to abort the mission.

All in all? I'm glad we did it, mostly because it means we NEVER HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN!!

Here is the aftermath:


And . . .


Tomorrow we'll all be eating turkey and mashed potatoes and pie . . . but for some reason, I can't stop thinking about frog legs. Hmmmm . . .

Kermit the Frog Balloon

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What's in a signature?

Tonight, the girls' school hosted The Signature Project. It's really hard to explain, but I'll try.

This guy - artist, photographer, musician - Patrick Dunning created a huge, colorful mural of the sun, moon, a bird, the earth, etc. You can see it on his website.

He then scanned the image and programmed a computer to break it down into a code - each number representing a color in the mural. He then blew it up in size and broke it into 171 cube-shaped pieces. Each section is then layered with a grid composed of thousands of rectangles. People use designated colors to sign their name in each rectangle. Like a pixelated image, when it's all put together, the color-coded signatures (over a million of them!) will reform the original painting. We added our name to it!

But, wait! There's more! Dunning then uses phosphorous paint to put other images over the signatures. In sunlight they're invisible, but under ultraviolet light they take shape. Amazing.

He presents the whole project using an interactive presentation with music, light and other sound effects. It's truly inspiring.

If you're looking for an interesting presentation to bring to your school - book The Signature Project. It's unlike anything I've ever seen before.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Four years ago

The girls sitting in a pile of leaves in our yard in November 2006:


How time flies. Peanut was 3 and Loaf about 1.5. It doesn't seem possible that they were ever this little. And it doesn't seem possible that they can be as big, vocal, smart and funny as they are now. There are gifts every day. Find them. Grab them. Hold onto them tightly.

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My first 10K in the bag!

So. I did it!

My first 10K in the bag.

It was not easy, especially given that I did NO training and in fact, have lost significant fitness since I stopped working out regularly in mid-September.

It was a downhill start and they were warning people to take it slow so as not to run into people or fall and I can see why. I saw one young girl trip pretty badly (though she picked herself right up and kept going). I took it super easy at first knowing I needed to conserve my energy. I ran by the first mile marker at about 12-something and the second one at 24-something. I was not feeling great "running" at a 12-min/mile pace. Over the summer, I was doing more like 10-10:30 pace. But, my goal for the day was to finish and I didn't want to burn out.

I ran by the 3-mile marker at 36-something and felt really discouraged. Then something truly bizarre happened. At mile 4, I got a burst of energy. I ran by it at 48-something and picked up the pace. I had been eyeing a woman up ahead of me in a red shirt. She'd been up ahead of me - at about the same distance - for most of the race. Suddenly, she was much closer. I picked it up even more and started to really close the gap. Then I passed her, and several others. I ran by mile 5 at 57-something - less than 10 minutes after passing mile 4. I kept up at a good pace until about mile 5.5 and then I started really hurting - literally.

My feet were killing me. My arches and toes ached like someone had been beating them with a hammer. I tried to keep up the pace, but I just didn't have it in me. Also? The last of four hills lay in front of me. I walked half of it. But then saw the mile 6 marker up ahead and ran by and could see the finish line and that was great! My time was 1:12:41, which is NOT great, but given everything - I'm satisfied.

I went there today thinking I'd have to walk about half the race and in reality I only walked twice - both on hills (there were four hills over all). I also should note that I stopped (not slowed down, but STOPPED) at each water station. So really? This time is not bad at all and had not gotten mono and had I not had to work away the entire month of October, this probably *would* have been done at my normal 10 -10:30 pace.

I'm happy I went. It would have been super easy to have blown it off. It gives me some confidence back (which has been sorely missing lately) and it gives me a benchmark to improve upon.

All good stuff!

* * *
I do have to add that I've had a little bit of marathon fever lately. Sort of turning it around in my head wondering, "Hmmm? Could I? Should I?" When I ran across that finish line yesterday, one of my first thoughts was, "Holy crap, this isn't even 1/4 of a marathon. If this were a marathon, I'd have TWENTY more miles to run." Which is incredibly daunting. Of course, training helps. :-)

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Run, Kimberly! Run!

Back in early September, I signed up for my first 10K (6.2 mile) run. I was SO excited! I feel that's inching toward a respectable distance. I printed out training plans spanning about 8 weeks and got ready to roll.

Then, on September 17, I was diagnosed with Epstein Barr Virus and spent two weeks in bed resting - the only cure. I returned to work on October 4 and immediately jumped into a project that had me working more than 10 hours a day until October 27. And I was still technically recovering - spending weekends curled up in bed desperately trying to "catch up" on rest. My training plan sat forgotten below an ever-growing pile of school papers, notices and get-well cards.

The race is tomorrow. I've run exactly 4 times since October 4 - no more than 3 miles at a time. It would be easy to skip tomorrow's race claiming I'm unprepared. But I paid for it and it's going to be a beautiful day. So I will go. I will do my best. If I run the whole thing - great. If walk part of it - fine. Like a lot of things in life, showing up is half the battle, so tomorrow I'll show up and give it my best.

And one thing I can say for sure: my next 10K will undoubtedly be better. Wish me luck!

Labels: ,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Who ya gonna call?

So I realized with something like horror that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away.

This seems impossible to me, because my brain cannot believe it's even November yet since New Year's Day was just, like, last week, and there is NO WAY it can possibly be almost Thanksgiving. But alas, it is.

We are (probably) hosting again. Which means, it is time for an epic home disaster to strike.

This year, instead of plumbing, we're going for a leaking roof requiring the removal of the entire kitchen ceiling (due to mold). At least it's not on Thanksgiving day itself. ::sigh::


I'm also grateful that it's a small crowd (just the four of us, plus three others). We'll manage, but man, the timing is truly fantastic on this.

Though I have to say, this whole ordeal proved that my husband would make a pretty cute Ghostbuster.


Labels: , ,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

For my dad, my veteran. For all veterans.

I'm sad today.

I always called my father on Veteran's Day to say hi and tell him I was thinking of him.


Today there is no one to call.

The last few months have been a bit like a roller coaster ride. Waiting for his death to come (since we knew it was) was like that initial slow ride up to the top when you know that any second the bottom is going to drop out and you're going to start free-falling. Then of course, the week or two following his death: Lurching down, down, down . . . .

Since then, there have been ups and down - not as dramatic as the initial one, but enough sometimes to take my breath away.

Lately, it's been more steady and calm. Sometimes, I think the ride is ending, but then I realize it probably never does. Every now and then out of the blue, I drop again. It is shocking and cruel, but I've realized this is life after the death of a parent. You never quite get used to it.

Since I have no one to call in person, I will simply wish all the Veteran's out there - past and present - my gratitude. You have given so much.


We are thankful.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Oh, the drama!

Loaf has her first loose tooth.

Last night, she was complaining of tooth pain on the bottom and when I checked, sure enough, one of her bottom center teeth has a slight wiggle to it.

She is SO excited. She has seen her sister lose six and reap the riches of the Tooth Fairy, so she’s dying to have her turn.

In addition to the excitement, the tooth has brought about a significant amount of drama. This morning while eating, she kept complaining of how much her loose tooth hurt.

"Oh my tooth, my tooth! It hurts sooooo much. I can’t eat my breakfast on this side so I have to keep my head titled in this direction,” she whimpered while tilting her head to the right.

What was she eating, you ask?

Well that is an excellent question. I’m sure you’re thinking it was an apple or piece of toast or some other hard, crispy food that requires the use of incisors.


It was a bowl of soggy corn flakes.

Not. Kidding.

My daughters are sweet and caring and tons of fun, but they are sometimes full of The Drama.

Fortunately, there is an end in sight. I figure she’ll lose that tooth in about . . . oh? 8 to 12 weeks?

Until then, I have a feeling there will be lots of head tilting and complaining about hard food and special requests for ice packs to soothe her aching, rootless tooth as it slowly releases itself from her gums. It's enough to make me want to lie on the floor and scream. I can't imagine where they get this from.

:::whistles and looks up at the ceiling:::

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Skin deep

“What’s that for?” asks Loaf repeatedly as she watches me go through my morning routine – applying one cream to my under-eye area, a different one to my face and neck, adding sunscreen, slathering body lotion from the neck down, swishing mineral makeup over my face and finishing with eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss.

I am aware, as I apply a minimum of a half-dozen products, that I am shaping her thoughts about feminine beauty and acceptance. Thus, I try to screen my answers – making them less about beauty and vanity and more about feeling good in general. As I dab the thick wrinkle cream around my eyes, I say casually, “Oh, it just helps my skin feel better.” I know it’s a lie and I hate lying.

I secretly hope that she isn’t actually paying as much attention as she appears to be. I hope that she isn’t filing it away and possibly drawing upon it down the road as she stands in a drugstore wondering what lotions and potions she “needs” to feel pretty or accepted or youthful.

It is the same with exercise.

”Why do you exercise so much, Mommy?” asked Peanut a few months back.

I told her a partial truth: that I want to be healthy and strong, but I skipped right over my motivation to keep my weight down. Soon enough, she will hear about the “importance” of being skinny from her peers or the press; she does not need me to plant the seed.

I catch myself far too often telling them how pretty they are, how nice their hair or eyes are. How cute they look in their clothes. Even though I know confidence is built on many levels, I inwardly cringe a little and try to balance these comments by telling them (when warranted) that they are hard working, caring, strong, fast and smart. I don't think it's a bad thing to compliment your daughter on her looks, but I think you have to be careful not to make it *just* about appearance.

This is especially tricky with girls. You don't need me to spout about the pressure they're under to be thin. To be beautiful. To attract a partner. To have dewey skin and voluminous, shiny hair and plump lips and big breasts. I worry about it to the point where I don't keep Glamour or Cosmo or celebrity magazines like Us in the house. I don't want them to think those pictures are what women are supposed to look like.

I wish I were one of those women who can walk around confidently with no makeup and hair in a simple ponytail, but it’s not me; it never has been. I don’t know where I got it from, because my mom is a makeup minimalist. She is blessed with good genes and good sense, things I hope are passed to my girls.

Either way, I hope they know they are worthy of being loved and accepted for ALL their amazing characteristics. And I hope they'll find comfort in their own skin - with or without a little makeup.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 08, 2010

Little house in New Jersey

Mark and I sometimes joke that our girls are growing up more like girls in the 1950s than the 2000s. We've been a (mostly) TV-free house since 2008. They aren't allowed a lot of computer time, read a ton of books and play outside a lot. Of course, we're only joking since there is still a long list of modern conveniences from which they benefit.

However, yesterday, we went to our next-door neighbor's house and made apple cider. Outside. With an old press that you have to crank manually.

It was awesome!

The cider was fresh and sweet and the kids loved turning the crank and watching the apples get squished into cider.

In fairness, the grinder - which turns the whole apples into a sort of pulp - was electric. Regardless, the kids had a great time tossing apples into it and watching them get turned into mush.


Loaf tosses one in. Looks like she's going to be a little short.


Peanut's turn and she sinks it!


Loading up the press with mushed up apples for another batch

So here's what I learned:
- It takes one bushel of apples (about 42 pounds) to make 2.5-3 gallons of cider.
- Like pie, the best cider is made from a variety of sweet and tart apples.
- Making cider is a messy, sticky job.
- An electric apple grinder will shoot chunks of apple an impressive distance.
- Hot apple cider with rum is yummy (OK, I already knew that one, but it's even better with fresh cider).
- Making apple cider in your neighbor's backyard will make you feel like Laura Ingalls, even if the driveway is full of SUVs and shiny German sedans.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, November 07, 2010

How to carry a cat

This is how you carry a cat

Labels: , ,

Saturday, November 06, 2010

My afternoon date

Today I had a date with Peanut. Nothing fancy: just a trip to Target. And while taking both of them shopping is usually a fine experience, when it's just one of them, the fun factor rises exponentially.

With Loaf at a birthday party, Peanut and I browsed the aisles of Target together killing time. We leisurely strolled through the Christmas section oooing and ahhing over the sparkly ornaments. We perused the toy section - checking out the Barbie aisle (I can't help it; I'm still a sucker for Barbie). We tried on sunglasses and cheap, costume jewelry and hats and giggled our way through the store.

Mark and I often talk about having one-on-one "dates" with the girls (he takes one, I take the other and then a couple weeks later we switch), but life gets going and it rarely happens. Today was a treat - a joy - and a reminder of just how important that one-on-one time is for us all. Hopefully, we'll find a way to make it happen again soon.

Labels: ,

Friday, November 05, 2010

Halloween Haiku Friday

Since I completely neglected to share any of our Halloween pictures, I thought I'd take advantage of Haiku Friday today to post just a few. For your reading (and viewing) pleasure:

Jack 'O Lanterns

Spooky pumpkins glow
Rotten mess by Halloween
Carved way too early

Mommy Witch

Mommy looks so sweet
Kids away - Mom raids candy
Bad witchy Mommy!



Kids go marching by
Bats, butterflies, witches, ghouls
School parade is fun

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, November 04, 2010

An unbalanced diet

Peanut has always been a good eater. Ever since she was a baby, she was open to trying everything and enjoys a variety of foods - including fruits and vegetables, Indian and Thai food, sushi and spicy stuff.

Loaf on the other hand? Oy.

Loaf eats about a dozen foods, most of which fall into the category of "grains." Her favorite foods include:
1. Cheerios
2. Corn flakes
3. Crackers
4. Pizza, without the cheese
5. Pasta, without sauce
6. Macaroni and cheese
7. Bread
8. Pancakes
9. Wheatabix
10. Rice
11. Vegetarian pepperoni (which, I think technically counts as a "grain" since it's made from soy. And no, it's not as dreadful tasting as it sounds).
12. Ham <---Which of these things is not like the others?

She will, fortunately, eat peas, beans, olives and most fruits, so we tend to keep those things on hand for variety. However, her "will eat" list keeps narrowing. On Monday, I packed her a lunch of vegetarian pepperoni, crackers and applesauce. The applesauce, which she was eating by the tub in September, came back unopened.

"I don't like applesauce, Mom."

Huh? Since when?!?

I know technically I'm not supposed to worry about this, but it's driving me crazy! I mean what kid doesn't like grilled cheese? Or chicken? Or peanut butter? Or corn? Seriously, people? Can I get a ruling here? Is she exceptionally picky, or does this sound like normal 5-year-old stuff to you?

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Baby got back

I recently snapped this picture in the men's section of a major sporting goods chain:


Now, I know booties are all the rage right now, but seriously. Seriously?!?

Women's mannequins are so thin the sales people have to use safety pins to keep size zero clothing from falling off them and in the men's department we have this? Who allows this stuff? Why don't we just give him a beer gut for good measure.


Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

One foot in front of the other

I spent half of September in bed. Feeling achy and run down, I went to the doctor in early September thinking I had Lyme disease.

I didn't, which was good.

However, I had Epstein Barr Virus, commonly called "mono," which was bad. EBV can cause permanent liver or spleen damage if ignored. In some cases, it can even bring on hepatitis. The only cure is rest, so my doctor sent me to bed for two straight weeks.

Laying around in bed all day doing little to nothing is a fantasy I've indulged in every now and then, but the reality was not what I'd expected. I still had work to do. Sitting in bed with my laptop balanced on my legs all day long gave me neck and back pains. My bottom went numb and my shoulders had pins and needles on and off all day long.

Plus, it happened to be two of the most beautiful weeks of the fall - sunny and clear, with temps neither too hot or cold. Watching those gorgeous days tick by from inside was a bummer.

It also put a big crimp in my exercise and training. I had signed up - literally days before being diagnosed - for a 10K run on November 14, my first run of that distance. I was SO excited. I had my 10K training plan taped up at work and in my desk drawer at home. I was pumped.

But two weeks of bed rest was followed immediately by a demanding project where I worked long, long hours - sometimes until midnight and often on weekends. Exercise, even if I was ready to go back, was out of the question.

Despite that, a note came home from Peanut's class announcing a "mini-marathon" on November 2. Fourth and 3rd graders would run a mile, while 2nd and 1st graders would run a half mile. "Volunteer," said the note, "to walk or run." Of course, I signed up to run.

Peanut was nervous. "What if I don't finish, Mom?" she asked anxiously.

"You will," I assured her. "Just take it one step at a time."

I ran my first half mile today in six weeks with my seven-year-old daughter by my side grinning from ear to ear. She effortlessly ran the entire half mile. Surprisingly, it was tough for me - six weeks of no exercise has taken its toll and it's going to be a long, slow road back. For motivation, I'll keep that visual of Peanut's huge smile, hair flowing out behind her, small legs pumping back and forth as I go. One step at a time.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 01, 2010

What I thought about on the ride home today

I hate my commute.

There. I said it.

I know I don't have the hardest, or most grueling, or longest, or most traffic-congested commute in the greater NYC area. But still, it is 50 minutes of highway. Highway that separates me from my family after a long day. There is nothing as depressing to me as walking out the door at 6 p.m. knowing I will not see my family for at least 50 minutes. Knowing by the time I get home, Peanut will be exhausted - winding down her day and that I have less than an hour with her until she collapses into bed. Loaf is not far behind her.

Tonight, I hit traffic and my commute was extended an additional 25 minutes. Lucky me.

I didn't mind my commute so much when I worked part-time and only had to make it two days a week. But five days a week? It's exhausting. It's depressing. It makes me really, really angry.

Tonight on my extra-long ride home, unable to find anything decent on the radio, my mind jumped from one thing to the next. And at some point, it landed on my blog. My poor, sad, neglected blog.

I thought about how I used to have such a zest for posting. I loved my little creative outlet; my readers, my comments. I loved reading other people's blogs - and commenting on them - as well. What the heck happened?

I know the answer . . . full-time work, too little time, too much stress and . . . a draining commute.

But tonight sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I realized that today is November 1. The first official day of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo, for those in the know). And sitting there in that traffic, I decided to give it a go.

They say it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. I have 30. Let's see how it goes? If nothing else, I have my commute each day to try to think about something to post. Wheeee!