Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Reading slump

You know I'm in sad shape when I don't want to go upstairs to bed because none of the books I have bookmarks in are making me want to get back to them. Not a one of them is grabbing me. Shoot, maybe I have a fever too because I clearly must be getting sick. I really don't like feeling this way.

A few small revelations about me

I am a fair weather runner. Rain=no run.

I sometimes start books just so I can use a cool new bookmark.

I don't consider it a valid weigh-in if I haven't shaved my legs.

I think my legs are my best feature.

I have sensory issues with finger paint.

I am inordinately pleased when I finish some consumable item. It's like the clean plate club for toothpaste or shampoo and I chant "another one bites the dust" as I chuck it.

I don't like talking on the phone. It seems like such a waste of time to me.

I rarely answer my cell phone. Who really wants to be available 24/7?

I think false eyelashes look like dead spiders.

I don't love spiders. And I hate snakes.

I love lists.

Summer Reading Thing Challenge

Because the person with the most challenges wins, I found another one that is loose enough rule-wise for me to play along. These are my favorite sorts of challenges! This one is the Summer Reading Thing Challenge and it is a very relaxed sort of challenge. It doesn't hurt that I think this button is, well, cute as a button. ::groan:: I tend to use the seasonal "Thing" challenges to make myself finish those books I have bookmarks in but keep putting aside in lieu of other books. And since it's worked for me in the past, I'm going to do it again. So here's my list for this one (and yes, I know it contains fewer books than I declared I was going to read in all of July but I'm hedging my bets so I can be successful on at least one of these challenges!):

1. Waltzing at the Piggly Wiglly by Robert Dalby
2. Book Lust by Nancy Pearl
3. Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian
4. What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Sparkle Hayter
5. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

Review: The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

A new book by Julia Quinn is generally reason to celebrate since her Regency-set historical are some of my favorite guilty pleasures. So I was very excited to have this one come out and I immediately snatched it up at the bookstore. I set it aside to taunt me a bit to build the anticipation of reading it. And I think I may have gone a bit overboard because this one didn’t thrill me nearly as much as Quinn’s previous works have. Miranda is a young lady who has been in love with her best friend’s older brother for a decade, ever since he told her that she would one day be beautiful as well as smart. But Turner certainly didn’t wait for Miranda, marrying another and suffering a terrible marriage and a very public humiliation. It is immediately after this event that Miranda and Turner come face to face again so there’s a lot of angst to work through on Turner’s part. They did seem suited as a match, intellectual equals and all that but there was something less than satisfying about the second half of the novel. Perhaps because so much of the storyline became clichéd and the back and forth between Miranda and Turner could have been solved with some simple communication, it was an irritant that needed to be done away with. Overall, it was a nice enough historical romance but I know Ms. Quinn can and does do it better so that played into my feelings about the characters.

July Book Blowout

So I found another reading challenge I'm going to flirt with. This one asks me to declare how many books I will read for the month of July and is called the July Book Blowout. You can find all the pertinent details here. So, should I be optimistic and claim a zillion books, more realistic and claim a reasonable number, or ensure my success and claim only a few? I think I'll go with reasonable since I may be picking up War and Peace at some point in July and that'll certainly throw a wrench in zipping through books! So for challenge purposes, I'll say I will read 10 books in July. Maybe I should download a few audible books to use on my increasingly long runs too. Hmmmm. Must ponder this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Eating everything in sight

I wonder why I manage to sabotage myself on the food front so often? The past week or so, I've literally been eating everything in a tri-state area. On the plus side, that means we won't have to move it. On the minus side, I will be carrying a reminder of it around my middle for who knows how long. And while I've been trying to eat things that have marginally decent nutritional value to them (in addition to the extra calories), for lunch today, I had 3 doughnuts and a Diet Coke. Yeah, that's healthy! My tennis coach mentioned doughnuts this morning and I was sunk, especially since I still needed to go to the grocery store for milk and other staples for the kids. ::sigh:: Wonder if the cream (of course they were cream filled!) went to my tummy, butt, or thighs?

How to choose a book

Do you judge a book by its cover? I certainly do, to some extent, to the great delight of art and marketing departments in publishing houses the world over. There are certain things that will always convince me to pick up a book: any sort of water word in the title (sea, lake, river, flowing, etc.), book or library in the title, a mostly blue cover, anything that looks like a pool with that sort of water-washed, dappled sunlight thing going on, a cover illustration looking like a book or books (old ones with battered bindings are particularly appealing) or something to do with a library, I do have a fondness for the current trend of disembodied legs so we don't see a character (especially since art departments so frequently get the main character's look so totally wrong), use the word epistolary somehow and you've got my heart sewn up right there, and I love swooning heroine sort of covers on historical books. I'm sure there's more but I'll quit boring you with my idiosyncrasies before I completely lose you.

I don't necessarily buy everything I pick up but given my habits, the odds are pretty good if I take the time to read the back cover copy. I don't think there's a magic thing about the back cover copy that ensures my purchase but there are things that make me return the book to the unsold stacks immediately: if it says, at any point (front cover, back cover, in the blurbs, or in the cover copy itself), that it is a fast-paced thriller, if it mentions a body or blood, if it actually uses the word "dysfunctional." One of my old book clubs, two states ago, dismissed all books that claimed "International Bestseller" status unless someone was willing to vouch for the book. And I know more than a few people who won't buy a book with the Oprah seal of approval on it (I'm certain that there are also more than a few who buy books *because* of that seal too, so...). I'm more lenient on those things but am firmly in the camp of people who *hate* movie covers on books.

So what's do my latest purchases look like, you ask? One has a woman you can only see the midsection of putting on an apron and the dominant colors are blue and yellow. One is yellow with a cartoonish circle of foods, a person riding a bike, and a tractor. One has a 1940's woman hugging a man in uniform and only part of their heads are visible (predominantly white and olive). One has a woman turned away from the camera and zipping up a sherbet colored dress (predominantly greeny-blue). And the last is predominantly a deep rich blue with an open jar of fireflies on it. Any guesses about what I just bought?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Review: Sound Bites by Alex Kapranos

I don’t know the band that Alex Kapranos sings for (Franz Ferdinand?) so I definitely didn’t pick this up because of the celebrity connection. I picked it up because the idea of reading about international gastronomic adventures interested me. And while vignette-type chapters aren’t generally something I enjoy too much, I was willing to overlook them for kernels of goodness. Unfortunately this entire book is short and superficial and gave me no insight into how a band eats on tour, nor did it give a rounded out version of unfamiliar food or eating in unfamiliar places. Basically it was a set of jottings that failed to deliver on the promise it exuded on its back cover. And I’d be bitter about that but it took me about half a nanosecond to read it, it was so slight (okay, maybe a bit longer, but not much).

Review: A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka

A charming book that was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, this was really a delight to read. It is the story of two antagonistic sisters who band together to save their aging, and increasingly infirm and confused, father from marrying a grasping, bosom-y, bottle-blond Ukranian immigrant he’s only recently met at the Ukrainian Club. Nikolai is adamant that he wants to marry the blowsy Valentina, who is clearly only after him for his perceived money. Nikolai’s daughters, Vera and Nadia are horrified and embark on what starts out as a comedy of errors to make their father see the impossibility of this marriage. But the book turns darker as it becomes obvious that Valentina is not harmless, especially to Nikolai, and that she is quite cunning and capable of besting Vera and Nadia. But Lewycka is skilled in not making her character all black-hearted. She has made all of them believable and multi-faceted and very human. And as Nadia, our narrator travels through this impending marriage mess with her father, she learns more about her family history than she has ever really imagined. The story is really masterfully written. There is a light touch here that doesn’t hide the deeper issues but makes them less onerous for the reader to digest. As much as the ending was not a surprise, I am still looking forward to Lewycka’s next book and to the clever writing she displays here and hopefully carries over into her next effort.

Review: The Gathering by Anne Enright

Right off the bat, I have to say I hated this book. It was painful to have to read. But not am I anal retentive enough to have to finish everything I start, I also felt compelled to read all of it because it was chosen for one of my book clubs. I will also say that we were about evenly split on liking and loathing it. I thought it was overwrought and depressing. I didn’t like our narrator Veronica and didn’t feel that we got to know the rest of the very large Hegarty family at all. It took absolute yonks to understand Veronica’s attachment to her brother Liam (to the exclusion of the other siblings). And finally, the mix of Veronica’s legitimate childhood memories mixed poorly and uneasily with her imagined memories of her grandparents’ courtship (and sex life) and of her parents’ marriage (and sex life). I guess there really wasn’t a thing about the book that I enjoyed and while it was irresolutely dreary, I could have handled that without the stereotypical and flat characterization combined with clunky writing. I know this won the Booker Prize so perhaps I have no idea what I’m talking about but I think the judges were delusional. Nothing about this book sang.

Review: We Are Our Mothers' Daughters by Cokie Roberts

I am very behind on my book reviewing but have been writing a few up here and there so I hope to get at least a portion of them finished on here before we leave for the summer and then move houses. In any case, here's the first of my appalling backlog of reviews. Look for more in the coming days.

We Are Our Mothers' Daughters by Cokie Roberts
I think my mother gave me this book several years ago and I left it to languish on my pile because short essays on who women are/were really isn't high on my list of interesting reads. I prefer to read to escape into a world I can't imagine for myself. But I needed something that I could pick up and put down and I figured that this would fit the bill. As expected, I didn’t love reading this set of personal essays by journalist and news correspondent Roberts, but it was okay. She weaves personal stories in with historical people and events of interest to herself and some of them were, of course, more interesting than others as is usually the case with stories or essays. Overall the political tone of many was off-putting to me but this wasn’t nearly the painful reading experience I expected. Would I read more in this same vein? Only if given to me as a gift by someone I loved but in general I’d say no. The combination of essays and politics was not destined to ever be my cup of tea.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kids and running

I had a race this weekend. It was my first ever 10K. They also had a kid's fun run in which my kids had originally showed an interest. Well, as time went on one at a time pulled out. Because I am a smart mom, I didn't sign any of them up for the run (it costs money, you know!). But about two days before the race, T., who is all of 6, told me that he wanted to run. By this time I couldn't for the life of me remember details of the kid's race so I told him it was a mile and I wasn't certain he can run that far. He offered to prove me wrong. So I laced up my running shoes and took him out for a mile jog enroute to my longer run for the day. He bobbed along in my wake for a while without talking, which was worrisome since this is a kid who even talks in his sleep. I asked him if he was okay or wanted to slow down and he assured me that he was fine. We continued along with his hair flopping up and down and his feet slapping at the pavement. Finally he broke his silence and asked me if a mile was very far. I agreed that is was far, especially for a little guy his age. Satisfied with that, he kept going up the nasty hill that was the end of the run for him. I watched him jog gratefully into the garage and then headed out on the rest of my run. When I got back, my hubby was in hysterics over drama-boy's comments about the run. First, he got back into the house and announced that he couldn't feel his legs. Then, when asked where mom was, his response was, "Still out there killing herself." He was still flopped on the couch when I heard all this. I didn't hear another word about the fun run even though he'd proved to me that he could indeed do it. And even worse, it turned out that the fun run was only a 1/4 mile, not a full mile. Mean, mean, mean me!

ARC Reading Challenge

I came across another challenge I need to participate in like I need a hole in my head. But I do have scads of ARC's (advanced reading copies) I should try to work out of my tbr piles. I started to collect all the titles but gave up when I realized that I have a shameful amount of them. I will say that generally when a publisher sends me something to review, I am very good about getting to it asap instead of letting it molder there (although not all the time). The bulk of my list is made up of arc's that arrived in my stacks as gifts from others or even leftover from my days of grad school teaching when we were given these things like they were free candy. I only went partly through my stacks but here's the list I found on a quick scan through the D's (with one or two I just knew I had in other spots);

A Delightful Compendium of Consolation by Burton Visotzky
The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi
A Southern Exposure by Alice Adams
Men May Come and Men May Go But I've Still Got My Little Pink Raincoat by Gigi Anders
Inappropriate Men by Stacey Ballis
Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark
Everyday Matters by Nardi Reeder Campion
No Bones by Anna Burns
Burnt Bread and Chutney by Carmit Delman
The Way to Somewhere by Angie Day
The Inheritance by Annabel Dilke
I Am Madame X by Gioia Diliberto
White Man's Grave by Richard Dooley
Flight of the Swan by Rosario Ferre
The Snow Geese by William Fiennes
Having It and Eating It by Sabine Durrant
What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Sparkle Hayter

So the challenge (found here) requires me to read 4 of these between now and Sept. 21 because of the sheer volume of them that I currently have. I am only going to choose two and let the other two be up to fate or any blog readers I may have. (What am I up to now? Two of you besides my husband?) The two that I definitely think I should read are A Delightful Compendium of Consolation since that was indeed sent to me by the publisher and I haven't been timely about it at all and What's a Girl Gotta Do? because I remember getting it handed to me in grad school by one of Cosmo's book editors (plus Hayter writes mysteries and I am such not a mystery girl it's not funny so this would not only get it off my tbr pile, but potentially out of my house). Let me know if you have thoughts on the other two I should read from this list, which may or may not be added to at some later date.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I must be a dance mom

I am the least girly-girl person you could ever hope to meet (well, except for the purse fetish). I don't wear make-up. Doing my hair consists of brushing it when I get out of the shower and letting it air dry while I'm on my errands. If I want you to see my calves (which look pretty nice and muscular if I do say so myself), I wear shorts, not a skirt. I think high heels and most any fashionable shoe is an instrument of torture. Manicures and pedicures are not on my radar; actually I cut my nails the minute they start getting too long. I am really not girly.

So how on earth did I end up with a girly-girl whose great love in life is dancing? Genetics are a funny, funny thing. Suffice it to say my mother is thrilled to have girly granddaughters (my niece lives in her pink dresses and tiaras) since she suffered through years of two tomboy daughters herself. The problem with this whole skip a generation femininity thing though, is that as a mom, I am not very good at teaching or doing the things that make a girly-girl kid happy. This is never more evident than this time of year when I am in the midst of dance recital Hades.

But you can always teach an old dog new tricks, right? After 6 years of a dancing daughter, I can get R.'s lovely curly hair into a reasonably smooth, slicked back bun with no whispies. I am still frequently at a loss with the make-up but we've come up with our own ways of coping with that and at least I now know what eye primer is and how to use it (not on myself though, perish the thought!!!). So generally R. looks pretty put together and decent for her competitions and recital at this point. And while I still denigrate my ability to slap a ton of very dramatic stage make-up and falsh eyelashes that would make a street walker proud onto my 9 year old daughter I realized last night, that I am a real dance mom.

I told some of the younger moms who were worried about getting their small fry from pink tights to carmel tights quickly that the trick to that is to layer your tights (wear both pairs and just peel them off as needed to reveal the correct color underneath). I let another mom know that her idea of having her daughter run back to her in the dressing room for a quick change (one short 2-3 minute number between dances) was going to stress them all out more than necessary (and not work) so she should prepare her daughter for a backstage change. I did the eye make-up for another kid whose mom had to work and so couldn't make the show. I helped strip two kids backstage as they were doing quick changes (sometimes it takes 3-4 moms to get the kid from one elaborate costume to another in that short a period of time). I chaperoned 4 different dances. And through it all, I didn't even flinch once. We'll have to see how I do tonight and tomorrow night when R. has two quick changes herself but maybe there's hope for me as the mother of a girly-girl after all.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Strip malls and other joys of the house hunt

I have found a couple of ways to make loathsome house-hunting a tad bit more enjoyable for me.

1. Shock the pants off the realtor with the ability to dismiss an entire house in 5 minutes or less and refuse to reconsider when she bemoans the fact that there really aren't many houses out there that fit the "absolute must-have" criteria.

2. Spend most of your time examining in depth any and all passing strip malls as if they aren't the same the country over (and I promise you, having lived all over the country, they truly are). Make sure to comment in an aggrieved sort of way if the strip mall doesn't have the federally mandated hair cut place, nail salon, and Chinese restaurant. Actually, almost every strip mall we passed did have all three of these in evidence and I pointed them out every time. I'm sure the realtor thinks I'm a real joker (or some other thing that is rather unprintable here).

3. Show real grief that there's not a bookstore within a five minute drive of either of the two houses you are considering. I do truly feel this but I suspect hubby feels relief as it'll take me longer to get somewhere to spend his entire paycheck. Of course, since I was in full-on witchy mode, I pointed out that all that meant was the I'd spend more in gas getting to my beloved bookstores. ::evil grin::

4. Make sure to emphasize that neither house is your dream house and therefore you can be perfectly apathetic about them. For bonus points and extra fun, when you sense that hubby is starting to lean one way, start to lean ever so slightly the other way, all the while professing that either house is certainly "acceptable" but no more than that.

5. Make elaborate and expensive lists of things that will have to be altered before you could consider living in either of the acceptable choices. I mean really, I hate certain colors and if hubby or the realtor thinks I'm not going to spend several thousand dollars eradicating all the orange, lime green, and any other colors that don't please me, they are on crack. Be sure to shake head as if in apology when hubby notes down what the house will truly cost once you've altered it to your taste [paint, new carpet, and a tile backsplash (I'm a messy cook) will really add up].

6. Quietly and sadly comment, continuously if possible, on the one feature that neither house has that you are feeling will be the greatest loss from the current house. In my case it's the basement/lack of storage. You should hear me paint the picture of the damage the heat and humidity will likely do to my precious Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc. decorations and all of my craft stuff (and that's only if we can find a place out of sight to stash all of it anyway).

It really is a miracle that neither the realtor nor hubby pulled off on one of the country roads and throttled me. But the woe is me made me feel a bit better (and actually loads of it was justified given what I know we have to move) even if it made them miserable to be trapped in the car with me. ;-)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sick and Twisted

Ok, maybe I have been replaced by aliens, as my hubby has suspected since I signed up for the marathon. I actually hauled my rear out of bed at 4am this morning to get my run in (a mere 2 miles so not longer than 15 minutes or so) before I headed to the airport to fly down to Charlotte to look for houses. I hate mornings. I love sleeping. What the H*#% was I thinking?! Now I'm exhausted and I haven't even started the house hunt. Should make me more charming (HA!) than usual for such an unpleasant task (did I mention I loathe house hunting?). Oh, and I have to say, while running so early is peaceful, it is also more than a little creepy. It's quite dark and noisy with unidentifiable noises. And it made me really sweat when I saw a car in the middle of the road with its lights on but not moving. I won't share the scary movie I had running through my head but suffice it to say I breathed a huge sigh of relief to discover it was the paper delivery guy restocking his front seat! I don't think I'll be doing any more unaccompanied after dark runs--especially because, even scared, I was too boneheaded to get out of the street and up on the sidewalk away from the car. Clearly my brain is non-functional at o'dark hundred.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Mupdate #2

Every time I think about the fact that I’ve agreed to run 26.2 miles (oboyoboyoboyoboy), I have a bit of a panic attack. That is awfully far. For Pete’s sake, that’s far to drive! It’s revelations like this that illustrate just how sharp I am. Most people realize this stuff before they commit. I am hopeful that following the training schedule pretty faithfully will have me much more blasé about going so far once the day arrives. If not, a panic attack plus the adrenaline generated on race day should be a potent enough combination to get me through at least the first half of the marathon anyway.

And to set the record straight, I (Kristen) am the one running the marathon. It is the Nike WOMEN’S Marathon, after all. While hubby does indeed look good in a skirt (the things you have to live down after your college years!), the closest he’s willing to get to a marathon is to cheer me on from the sidelines and I think he’s counting on me being too focused on running to notice he’ll only be cheering at the end after an extended lie-in in the hotel room! But I do thank all of you who gave me a good chuckle by assuming that the e-mail going out under hubby’s name meant he was the one running. Originally I was going to write and say that if you really know him you’d never make that mistake but then I realized that if you really know me, you’d probably never believe it either. But it is true and no, I haven’t been abducted by aliens.

Just in case you are worried about me actually being able to finish a whole marathon (and if you aren’t worried, why the heck not? I sure am!), I thought I’d reassure you by letting you know that I do have a whole race history behind me. ::snort:: Last summer, after only starting to run in March, I ran 3 5 K’s and one ½ marathon. Aside from the equipment malfunction on the first 5K I ever ran (anyone who didn’t get to read my account of my bra unzipping itself completely during my first-ever run, I do still have it in my e-mail somewhere), all of the races were pretty fun and uneventful. I’m hoping that I’ll feel the same way about this one come October 20th. Actually, I am hoping that the sheer obnoxious wave of self-esteem that I rode for several weeks after the half marathon will be doubled just like the race and I’ll be gloatingly proud of myself for months. (I’m so pathetic I actually did look in the mirror and tell myself I rocked every morning for weeks after the half was over—and I still have my medal hanging in my room like a little kid.) I *will* finish this race though, no matter what. I’m stubborn as they come and if I have to crawl, log roll, or be dragged across the finish line, cross it I will.

I got my first honk from a friend the other day. I was so in my own world I thought someone was being rude and honking to get me to keep my poky butt out of the way. She probably did want me out of the way but I think we’re good enough friends that running me over most likely didn’t cross her mind. And once I realized it was Holly, it seemed like such a friendly honk.  The same day a guy leaned out of car shouting at me. I didn’t recognize him and because I’m oblivious when I run, even without my iPod (it’s that scary inside my own head thing again), I really only heard: “body” and “running” and some other unintelligible mumbling. I am choosing to believe it was not “Running with a body like that reminds me of the Jello watch it wiggle, watch it jiggle commercial.” Instead I’m choosing to believe he was complimenting me on my lithe (ha!) and appealing form. Of course, I am the same person who chose to believe that high school boys intentionally blared the song “Sexy Mami” when I walked past their car in the fall as I followed W. into football practice. All I can say for sure on that was that they did blast the song; I was walking past them; and the lyrics sounding just like “sexy mommy” were terribly appropriate. Draw your own conclusions. 

I’ve had my first running related injury now. I managed to cut my own toe with the toenail on the toe next to it. The good news is that I didn’t notice anything until I pulled off my bloody sock so no pain to speak of. The bad news is that it meant that my shoes were a bit too small in the toe box. Given that I have wide feet, this is probably not a huge surprise. I think the running store folks just wanted to offer to let me wear a shoe box instead of a shoe and be done with it. As it was, they had to order in 3 pairs especially for my odd duck feet. Talk about weird: strong arches, high instep, small but quite wide and pronating (yeah, I don’t entirely get what that means either, nor does my spell check, but the store had cool plastic foot models to explain things visually). My family calls my feet Fred Flintstone feet. I don’t really care what they get called as long as they carry me over the finish line. But I can see that keeping reasonably decent shoes on them is going to cost me all summer long. I’ve never worn out a pair of sneakers before in my life (swimmers just don’t you know, unless they are doing the fully-clothed-in-the-pool-for-lifeguard-training thing—and even then we just let them dry out and continued wearing them) but I can easily see it happening in my near future.

W. was shocked to hear how much money I need to raise for this little endeavor . His take on it? “That’s more than a plasma tv. If people gave *you* that money we could get a huge tv and all would be well with the world” (I kid you not, those were his actual words). How is bookish me raising a kid who is so reverent about tv? At least he is physically active, although when I suggested he run the kids’ fun run at the 10K I’m going to do later this month, he quickly bowed out citing the heat and humidity. It’s probably not nice to call your own kid a wimp, is it? Anyone want to donate to the upcoming therapy bills in addition to the run?!

Brownie batter Gu, Body Glide or Vaseline. Bet you never knew running was such a dirty sport did you! Let me burst your bubble a bit. Gu is a gel of sorts you eat every couple of miles to help you to keep from depleting all your nutrients and energy stores. I bought myself a case of it in the chocolate flavor and the young kid behind the counter told me he didn’t like the chocolate because it was like sucking on brownie batter. I’m still wondering what is wrong with that since that’s exactly why I bought the chocolate! After all, I am a lick the spoon while making brownies kind of girl anyway. Nothing better (well, maybe uncooked chocolate chip cookie dough, but I digress). No wonder I’m not really cut out to be a real runner. As for the Body Glide or Vaseline, apparently I’ll need to slather this on myself to prevent blisters. Makes my skin crawl just imagining where I’d have raw rubs after such a distance. And yes, before I was informed otherwise, I did suspect you had to buy it at an adult bookstore and wondered how it would look for me to walk into one carting all three of my kids. Just imagine the questions I could have fielded on such a shopping trip! But it turns out you can buy Gu and Body Glide at a running store, even at the same time, and no one raises an eyebrow. Must be terribly sad to be so inured to such great potential potty humor.

And finally, training for this is good for my competitive little soul since it allows me to say that hubby will never, never, never be able to outrun me. He actually winced when I told him that I ran 8 miles the other day. Yup, I’m up to 8 for the long runs and still smiling. Of course, my weekly total is still fewer miles than I’ll have to run on race day (oboyoboyoboyoboy) since I’m only at 22 a week but that number is climbing steadily right now.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Squashed like a bug

W. has decided he really enjoys tennis a lot. Good thing since we've been spending a bloody fortune on his lessons. Apparently he's got a lot of natural talent too (which pretty much guarantees that I won't be willing to play him for long since I'm not interested in losing to my kid!). He was even invited to play in the high level match play games. Usually he's matched up with kids close to his age and ability level but tonight there were fewer kids than usual so he had to play whoever was around. He lost all his matches, which didn't sit too well with Mr. Competitive. The one he was most horrified by was the match he played against the guy he claimed was #5 on the Michigan State team. I wasn't there so I have no idea how he came to this conclusion but I somehow can't see any coach ever letting my mouthy 11 year old play tennis against a college kid who would wipe the court with him. Then again, if he was being too mouthy, perhaps that was the perfect solution (although then you have to pity the kid playing against him as he not only had to play a scrub but also listen to said scrub moan and whine and complain). After making certain that he enjoyed himself tonight despite all the losses, I had a good private chuckle over W. having to face being completely routed in every match. (He did tell me that the MSU kid only beat him 6-0 as if there was a way to lose worse than that!)


My 6 year old came downstairs tonight after I sent him to bed and asked me if he could give his clay handprint to anyone or if it had to be mine. Keep in mind that this was the handprint craft his kindy class made for the moms on Mother's Day. And I've already been given said craft as my gift. Turns out he wants to take it back and give it to my grandmother (his great-grandmother) instead! I've heard of re-gifting but this is ridiculous! He's *un*gifting before re-gifting. And I'm losing my Mother's Day gift.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Why I Should Never Chaperone a Field Trip While PMSing

First I should admit, up front, that I am a terrible girl. I would have been better off born as a boy. I never have a single clue in this world when I'm going to get my period. The rest of my family does because apparently I turn into a raging hormonal rhymes with witch the likes of which this world has never seen (not that I'm buying their version of this personality morph--I'd probably be more inclined to believe them if they just admitted it has nothing to do with hormones and everything to do with my personality defect, but whatever). So I agreed to chaperone a field trip for the middle child without having the remotest clue that I'd be PMSing on the day. Please note that I freely admit I'm not the world's best chaperone either. For starters, I generally hate other people's children. Heck, I often don't like my own children so it's not a stretch to dislike those that aren't formally related to me. At any rate, R. guilted me into agreeing, despite having chaperoned this same trip last year for W. and so knowing exactly what my day would be like.

I started the day off pretty well with a 5 mile run (the marathon training schedule only called for 3 miles but that's clearly for wimps--and anyone who reminds me of this comment in a month's time will be shot on sight) that felt easy and slow. Then I came home to a kid who ticked me off before we even got in the car to leave for school. W. decided that playing in his room with his Legos, which had previously been removed from his room because of their contribution to his complete lack of ability to get ready in the morning in a timely manner, was a better plan that getting dressed and having breakfast. The Legos are now in the garage sale pile if that gives you any idea of how angry I was (and it's only because it'd be illegal that W. isn't also in the garage sale pile--perhaps even the "free" box). Did I mention I'm also not very maternal? So a late start to school, a weeping child, and me trying desparately to control my blood pressure meant that at best I'd end the day with a headache and at worst, well... Let's not even try to imagine the head spinning Exorcist move I occasionally find myself capable of reproducing faithfully.

I go down to the classroom to collect my carload of kids (really only two extras, plus R.) and the teacher tells me we're to meet them at the cafeteria. Really, I do read all the notes that come home but this one completely whizzed over my head. every other parent knew so I'm obviously the only nincompoop in the bunch. Ah well, I get the girls and we head out. I only have a vague idea where we're going as I'm not from here but I figure we can get in the ballpark, right? So the girls get in the car and I tell them all to sit in the back, figuring I won't deal with arguments about who sits in the two middle seats. Child one tells me she can't sit in the back because she gets carsick. My response? "That's okay. So does R. so I'm really good at cleaning up barf." Disgusted look from child one, who proceeds to claim a middle seat. Child two claims the other one, leaving my own carsickness prone daughter the back seat option. All-righty then. Conclusions: child one clearly lacking sense of humor and going to do what she wants regardless of my instructions and child two a quiet follower. We get started and child one decides to announce that the van smells funny. Well duh! My kid gets carsick in here periodically, just how do you expect it to smell? R. also keeps her stinky dance shoes in the car at all times so she doesn't forget them. Not a petty smell. I'm pretty certain we had removed W.'s shin guards and cleats before the field trip but that odor lingers too. Even better, I get us lost so complainer has to sit in stinky car for longer than planned. Hehe.

We get to Greenfield Village and child one complains I parked too far away. I resist the urge to tell her tough noogies and ignore the comment. We get inside the gates and start off on our roaming "do what you want" day. Apparently what they all wanted was to eat lunch immediately. I told them no (it was only 10am) but agreed to let them all ride the train around the village. Not a one of them said thank-you to me for buying their tickets (R. included). I'm unimpressed with their manners. We ride a while before child two grabs the map out of my purse (whose child at the age of 9 feels free to go into a relative stranger's purse?!) and announces that she wants to go to the candy store. I tell her that we'll look at some of the more educational places first, not using the "e" word, of course, but that I'll make sure we get to the candy store before we leave. After every building we went into thereafter, child two was bored and darted right back out again regardless of whether child one or R. was interested in the presentation going on. And worse, after we followed her out of each building (despite my growing desire to let her wander off on her own and be eaten by one of the coyotes they've apparently recently sighted in the back 40 at Greenfield), she wanted to know if we were going to the candy store. So I lost my cool a bit (I have Irish and Italian ancestors so it's a mercy I lasted as long as I did rather than a surprise that I eventually snapped) and told her that she was being incredibly annoying and nagging and that if she asked one more time, we absolutely were not going to the candy store. I'm not sure if she saw the truth of this statement in R.'s face or if the steam coming out of my ears was enough but she stopped asking and we did eventually go to the candy store where we got to stand in line for 10 minutes just for the chance to buy very expensive jolly ranchers and other assorted bulk candy any local grocery stores sells for half the price. Now, naggy child two actually had money for the candy store, hence the broken record repetition. But child one had no money for goodies (and poor R. has me as a mother so she knew better than to ask me to buy overpriced junk). That didn't stop child one from grabbing a huge gobstopper sucker, thrusting it into my face and announcing that she wanted that. Very calmly, "No. Put it back." Greedy little snot reiterates that she wants it *a lot.* Kid, you got the wrong chaperone. Plus I should have known she'd push me on it because this is the same kid who asked about the (non-existent) goody bags at R.'s birthday party (silly me thought the chocolates they made at the chocolate store were more than enough to take home).

So now I'm in an even blacker mood that I was before leaving home in the morning because I've dealt with one of my own rotten children, one nagging pain in the rear, and one whiner who wants all things her own way. I. Am. Not. Happy. After the candy store, we have very few options left time-wise thank heaven. Child one who is apparently allergic to any exercise wants to get back on the train (the steam engine was fairly smelly and making R. a bit nauseated). Child two has to pee. When told that we'll find a bathroom but we'll have to walk, child two decides maybe she doesn't have to pee afterall. I warn her that we won't have time to find another bathroom if we get on the train. She's okay with that. Of course, as expected, as soon as we get off the train, she announces that she has to pee again. Too bad she has the chaperone from you know where. Looking at my watch, it is clear that we can't both traipse off to a bathroom and get to the appointed meeting place on time so I tell her she made a choice and now we have to speed to the front so she'll just have to hold it. (I'm sure her mother has heard all about how nasty I am by now.) And off I trot. The entire journey to the front is punctuated by child one whining that her legs hurt and her shoes don't fit. When I try to muster up some sympathy, she admits that she has a pair that fit her better but she's only allowed to wear them twice a week because her dad doesn't want her to get them dirty. You have got to be kidding me!!! A walking field trip (which it would have been exclusively if I hadn't sprung for the train) doesn't rate the decently fitting walking shoes? No wonder this kid is a whiny baggage!

Anyway, we make it to the front and I check us out to go home, send the girls to the bathroom, and off we head back to school. It was a much subdued car ride back, for which my throbbing head was thankful. I was never so grateful to see teachers drive in as I was today. You couldn't pay me enough to spend more hours with children not my own. Sheesh! I collect the two children at school who do belong to me and we come home, only to have me discover the reason for my incredible irritability. Now methinks I should forestall this ever happening again and just vow never to chaperone again (poor T.--as the third child he always suffers because of the self-knowledge I earn with the older two--but I just don't think I can survive anymore field trips in this lifetime).

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Paparazzi

Apparently I take too many pictures of my kids. We had an unexpected storm two nights ago and T. came flying down the stairs in his pj's to tell me, "Mom! Somebody keeps taking pictures of us!" Ummmm. Nope. That's just lightning. Bwahahahaha.

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