Wednesday, June 30

There Was an Old Lady...

And that's me. I turned 36 last week. And that means I'm closer to 50 than 20. How did this happen?

Speedy Gonzales

I am running. It's tough going, but I'm doing it.

I've joined a marathon training group, Boston Fit, which is part of USA Fit. The program is fabulous. It's a four-day a week running schedule, with the during-the-week runs by minutes, not by miles. Our long runs are done on Saturdays as a group, and let me tell you, running with a group makes a huge difference. I won't say the miles melt away, but they certainly pass faster. So far, our long run is eight miles (nine this coming Saturday) and it feels pretty good. I run a lot faster with the group (especially since I'm not pushing Doodles in the Baby Jogger).

Of course, my individual runs have improved significantly as Adam got me a Garmin Forerunner 201 as a present. I haven't had any problems yet with losing the GPS signal and I do a lot of running on a heavily treed trail (the Minuteman Trail). So far I've actually found it really motivational because knowing my pace and distance pushes me to go just that much faster or farther. I haven't figured out half the features, but the ones I've used have been great. I used to wear a heart rate monitor, but I've read a lot lately that says the old working out in "zone" is a bunch of bunk and I never found it useful because I've never been able to run in my range.

Way back when, before I was a blogger, I used to bike ride. My buddy Eugene conned me into doing the single-day Seattle to Portland bike ride four years ago (only when we did it, it wasn't the "Group Health STP"; it was simply to STP). I did it as a challenge to myself, to see how far I could push myself. And, truth be told, I did it because the boys were doing it and hell if I was going to let the boys do something without me (I'm a big believer in "anything you can do, I can do better"). But Eugene was an amazing coach. Every week he sent out a coaching newsletter chock full of information. Some was motivating talk. Some was training tips (I'll never forget his advice to "imagine that there's a rubber band on the top of a hill pulling you up"; I actually frequently think of this as I'm running up a hill). Some was encouragement of what we did ("and on Saturday, we rode 72 miles, and we all made it up the 65th street hill" [these are not exact quotes]). He gave suggestions for new training rides. It was such a treat.

Now, Eugene is going to run the NYC marathon with me (and when I say "with me," I mean it in the same way that we rode the STP "together." We started at the same time and managed to stay at the same pace for the first five minutes at which point he took off). So, Weegie, I need some encouragement. Where's my newsletter?

Mama Was a Hippie and Papa Was a Rolling Stone

Okay, so Papa wasn't a rolling stone (he wasn't even a Papa; he was a Peter), but Mama definitely was a hippie, or at least a hippie-wanna-be (hard to be a hippie with two kids, a mortgage, and a Mercury Cougar). She did her best to instill all those good old fashioned liberal ideas, using that good old fashioned tool of the liberals--song--into me and the Tweedle Twirp. It began with Peter, Paul, and Mary. It continued when we went to camp, where we sang songs such as "If I Had a Hammer." And what liberal childhood is complete without Free To Be ... You And Me?

So now, I fight the evilness that lurks in our house (aka Adam's politics) using the powers my mother passed on to me. Adam, as he was influenced by his hippie-bashing father, doesn't understand the potency of song (when I called Tweedles tonight to confer with her on the words of "If I Had a Hammer," Adam said at one point, "She's singing to you, isn't she?" which is something he finds alien. As he said, "You know, I grew up in a household where not every statement inspired someone to break out into song." Welcome to the Brown Family. I'm sure, right now this second, that sentence led my mother to think of some song that she's now singing).

So, every morning, in my subversive suburban way, I play "Free to Be... You and Me" for Doodles. I skip over the spoken word parts--don't get me wrong; these are still some of my favorite parts (how can you not love, "Hi, I'm a baby." "What do you think I am, a loaf of bread?" "You could be, what do I know? I was just born five minutes ago!" but at ten months, Doodles doesn't appreciate my spoken word, never mind a CD's spoken word). He rolls around on the diaper changing table to "Every girl in this land, grows to be her own woman." He pulls himself up on his toy to "When I grow up, will I be pretty? Will you be big and tall?" He yanks all the books off the shelf to "Some mommies are ranchers or poetry makers." He wails and we call it a morning at "A doll said, William, is what I need, to wash and clean, and dress and feed." (I consider this proof for the "he's straight" side; other proof: he pulls off bibs and hats; the kid despises accessories. Evidence on the "he's gay" side: he flirts more with boys than girls. Either's okay with me; I just hate not being in the know.)

Adam doesn't understand the power of the music. Oh, but he'll learn. In five years, Adam's not going to know what hit him when Doodles demands universal health care and day care and a complete overhaul of the welfare system. And I'll credit it all to Marlo Thomas.

Wednesday, June 23

Another Wednesday Night

Here I am, another Wednesday night, and I just don't have it in me to do anything creative here. I'm beat. Doodles has become quite the active little monkey (although he hasn't been quite the Holy Terror this week that he was last week), and I'm spending my days chasing him saying, "Oh, that drawer that you keep slamming your fingers into is no fun! Try playing on this nice soft carpeted area" and "Oh, standing holding the bathtub is so passe. Try playing on this nice soft carpeted area" and "Oh, that open staircase you're heading for isn't interesting enough to crawl down. Try playing on this nice soft carpeted area." You get the idea. That and he was up at 4 a.m. today and all his naps were in the stroller so it wasn't like I got to crash out while he was snoozing. I can barely keep my eyes open. My free time has been minimal because I've had a lot of work due. And I had to update Doodles photos online. Takes longer than you would think--all his pictures are good ones.

So, if I were in the mood to blog, here's what I would have been blogging about this week.
  • Running: I'm movin' and groovin' on my marathon training.
  • Weaning: So many feelings about this, so little energy to write about it.
  • Doodles's friend had a first birthday party at our house
  • My utter spaciness: Things like needing to call Adam when I'm halfway down Route 2 because I realize I forgot to turn off the hose that I was using to fill Doodles's pool.
  • I thought there was more, but all I can think of is sleep.
Maybe next week my mojo will be back. Till then, get some sleep. Oh, wait, that's me.

Wednesday, June 16

House of the Holy Terror

When he was just a wee one, we started calling him Doodlebug. He was such a tiny cute thing and, simply, he was a Doodlebug. But then he grew and he started gaining more boy qualities, and Doodlebug didn't really seem to fit anymore. He was more of a Doodles, as he began to grab and smile and laugh and develop a personality. And now as he enters late babyhood, Doodles doesn't fit so much either. He's bigger, more verbal, and just not as passive as he once was. So he needs a new nickname. And the only one that comes to mind is the Holy Terror .

And, oh, what a Holy Terror he is. Mobility is not a pretty thing. That little monkey is not only crawling everywhere (still commando style), he's suddenly developed a knack for pulling himself up. On everything that I don't want him to pull himself up on. We have toys just the right size for him to grab onto. The couch is his. The sides of his crib are readily available. The carpeted stairs are nice and padded. So what does he want? Oh, the stereo looks nice. The sides of the bathtub beckon. The new toy rack that hasn't yet been anchored to the wall. The Jumperoo but only when another child is actually jumping in it. When I offer him lots of opportunities to stand upstairs where the floors are carpeted, he refuses. But on the hardwood floors downstairs, he can't get enough. Do you know how loud the smack of a baby's head hitting the floor is? It's not a pretty sound.

Of course, if it were just an issue of pulling up, that wouldn't be a problem. But it's also, well, everything else. There are the temper tantrums my formerly angelic child now throws when he's dropped his toy/spoon/my keys/teething biscuit for the fifteenth time and I refuse to pick it up again. The separation anxiety that hits in the middle of the night. The solid food strike he's been on for the past week and a half (he has this adorable way of clamping his mouth closed, shaking his head, moaning angrily "nnnnn," and waving his hand in front of his face to block the incoming spoon). The "I want to do it myself" for holding his spoon and picking up his bowl of cereal (he won't eat it, but he's perfectly happy to grab it and fling it onto the floor). The beginnings of him weaning himself (a plastic bottle is better than me? I'm insulted). The melodic way he opens the kitchen cabinet doors and then slams them close (and then gets surprised that when he shuts the door on his fingers that it actually hurts).

Okay, so it isn't all bad. He laughs and giggles more. His curiosity is incredible. The look of wonder on his face when he accomplishes something new is amazing. And he's so interactive now. It's simply fun. Or at least it will be once I invest in a baby helmet for the HT and a pair of ear plugs for myself.

Blame It on the Baby

You'd think that on the days that Doodles is in day care, my clothing would be able to remain stain-free. Well, you'd think wrong.

Pomp and... Pomp

I promised a round-up for graduation, but really, I'm not feeling terribly moved to write about it. It was last Thursday, which already feels like a lifetime ago.

I was amazed at how many people came out to see the ceremony--family flew in from as far away as Australia. I never thought graduating from grad school was such a big deal; the reward was the work done, not the piece of paper. I didn't bother walking in my grad-school ceremony nor has anyone in my family. But then, this isn't any old school graduation. This is Hah-vahd B-school.

We skipped the big event in Hah-vahd Yahd because it was huge and there was nothing we'd be able to see. I didn't think Doodles would have the patience for it. But we met up with Adam and his family in time for the luncheon. What was HBS thinking? 894 students. And their families. And the luncheon is in a huge tent in which they've set up tables and put out covered plates of food at each place. We're walking on wet grass with the stroller searching for five empty places at a table. Hell, we would have taken just five meals that we could have snagged to take outside to sustain ourselves for the tedium--um, I mean thrill--of the graduation ceremony. It was a moronic set-up, only to be compounded by the fact that when we did find five seats, the meals were highly mediocre.

Then there was graduation itself. What a chaotic event. When you have 894 graduates, the procession tends to take a while. The audience was enthusiastic in the beginning but as the afternoon droned on, people would suddenly give a cheer when their grad crossed the stage, and then they'd vamoose. By the time poor Section J crossed, the place was deserted. Thank goodness Adam was in Section A--first across the stage, which was only important because Adam walked with Doodles, and by the time Section B made it to stage, Doodles was fast asleep in his stroller. As a bonus, Adam got singled out for a mention in the Dean's speech.

What can I say about the past two years that I haven't said already? Adam really enjoyed it and it wasn't a horrible experience for me. I made some good friends and I got to poke fun at people who deserved a bit of fun poked at them. I'm sure I'll come up with more as I have more time to reflect on it, but for now, I have no regrets about coming out here and being a "partner," but on the other hand, I'm glad it's over.

Wednesday, June 9

Disappointing the MBAs

At Adam's section graduation party last night, I was told that my blog is less interesting now that I don't mock the MBAs. I do feel bad that I've let them down in this way, but frankly MBAs just don't seem as worthy of my attention these days: I find Doodles infinitely more interesting than the MBAs. Of course, when you think about it, Doodles isn't all that different from an HBS student. Doodles likes to keep odd hours, he throws temper tantrums when things don't go exactly his way, he's always absolutely certain about whatever it is he's doing, and he has a thing for b*reasts. Low blows? Perhaps, but since Adam's class graduates tomorrow, I have to sneak in what I can. I've promised some of his classmates to do one final send up so look for a graduation summary next week.

Plum Worn Out

Doodles is wearing me out this week. So much so that I don't even have the energy to blog about it this week.

The Wives of Sam Horn

As the married female partner of my husband (anyone have a good synonym for the evil word "wife"?), I want to share in his interests. And as anyone who knows my husband will verify, Adam has just one interest: the Red Sox. I think Adam will back me up when I say that I've made an effort to support the Red Sox. True, I refuse to go to Fenway until they serve sushi, but I can identify Johnny Damon, can fake No-mah's pre-batting routine, and I know who the only Jew on the team is and how long Manny Ramirez was breastfed for (Gabe Kapler and four years, respectively. I don't know why I know those, but I do). I encourage him to watch the games (although I do complain when he starts to yell at the TV--I usually think he's talking to me and I come running, only to find out that Pedro is pitching a bad game or someone struck out). I bought Doodles his first, second, and third Red Sox outfit. I embrace--nay, enable--Adam's addiction.

Adam has had the last four weeks off (he graduates tomorrow and starts work on Monday). Out of the 672 free hours, I estimate he spent 196 hours sleeping. So out of the 476 hours remaining, Adam spent 333.20 hours watching baseball, listening to radio about baseball, reading his baseball boards, writing baseball posts, and thinking about baseball (note, I kindly didn't count the sleeping hours he dreams about baseball).

So, the other day, I peered over Adam's shoulder as he sat glazed at his laptop screen. "What are you looking at?" Adam has been a member of The Sons of Sam Horn for a bunch of years now and I wanted to see what he does on there. The first surprise is that Adam has posted 1,522 times. "That's not a lot!" Adam defensively argued. And he's right, I guess. It's just 1.389 posts a day. Every single day. For the past three years.

Reading over some of the threads, I became convinced that I know at least as much about the Red Sox as some of the dolts on the board. (Hey, I can blindly recite, "Pedro Martinez is the greatest pitcher who's ever lived." Of course, I don't exactly understand how that fits in with what Adam tells me Pedro's been doing this season, but I don't like to dig too deeply.)

"I'm going to join the board!" I told Adam. "I have things to say!" In the four years that Adam and I have been together, I have never seen a such a look of raw terror on his face.

"Uh, okay," he said. Then doing some quick thinking, he added, "but I think there's a waiting list to join. It's a really popular board." And sure enough he flipped over to a page and it reads, "SoSH is not currently accepting new members. There are 7,000+ applicants in the pool and we're overwhelmed." (What kind of board has an application that needs to be approved?)

For the record, I don't buy it. I think it's a conspiracy rigged up by The Man Show and Adam to keep me out. I think he anticipated my request and they concocted an elaborate dummy page to discourage me from joining.

(A side note: when looking for the links for Sons of Sam Horn, I popped over to the site. I noticed a feature that reads, "265 visitors in the last 15 minutes," with a list of the visitors. Guess who's screenname was on there? So I guess that's 1523 posts.)

(Side note to the side note: He's been busier than I thought. He's up to 1528 posts, which means he's exceeding his 1.389 posts a day.)

Wednesday, June 2

Goodnight to Goodnight Moon

I have issues with a lot of children's books. Every time I read Guess How Much I Love You to Doodles, I find myself editing as I go. How can a children's book ignore basic English grammar? Why not teach Doodles proper English the first time around?
"I love you as high as I can hop!" laughed Little Nutbrown Hare.
"But I love you as high as I can hop," smiled Big Nutbrown Hare.

Dialogue is spoken. It isn't laughed, smiled, sighed, or anything else that isn't actually, well, spoken! So I find myself saying, "said Little Nutbrown Hare with a laugh" and "replied Big Nutbrown Hare with a smile." I'm waiting for the day when Doodles has the book memorized and someone else reads it to him. Two year olds can comprehend the nuances reporting verbs, right? So why don't I just read him a book that understands the basic tenets of English grammar? Because I love the moral of this story. At the heart of Guess How Much I Love You is a very important message: The parent always gets the last word! It's a beautiful thing to teach a young child. (Note to my own parents: This does not apply to you because you never read me this book.)

While looking up Goodnight Moon for the previous post (and I'm never sure how to refer to my posts; I mean, it's previous because I wrote it first. Blogger, however, displays things in reverse chronology, so if you're reading down, it's the following post. Ah, whatever), I discovered some terrific customer reviews. Now, granted, I'm not a huge fan of this book. I object to the rhyming of "moon" with--surprise!--"moon." People, you can't do that! However, the book is part of our bedtime routine because it's such a nice segue to sleepy time and it gives lots of fodder for discussion ("See the cow jumping over the moon? What sound does a cow make? A cow says, 'Moo!'"). I also think it's a very accessible book for wee folk as there's not much to follow and the repetition is soothing. However, I have to agree with some of the reviews I found on Amazon:
I would never dare to say any of this if I were running for office, but .....I was given Goodnight Moon by a well-meaning enthusiast who felt I could be no parent or claim to know children's literature unless I owned the book. Sure, Goodnight Moon is popular; it's had staying power. But the same could be said for pork rinds and "The Dukes of Hazzard." Goodnight Moon is a tired catalogue of meaningless objects, to each one of which I used to say "goodnight" three or four times a week. My kid has it memorized, but she can also recognize a Home Depot sign, so that's a wash....
Goodnight room, goodnight moon. Perhaps a cry for help from some tortured soul, or perhaps a yearning for an apocalyptic solution to existence. Maybe it is none of these things, but images of a green room suggest an allegory of the American Democratic System (playing off of the asian themes of Red, Blue, and Green energy) and the eventual transfer of power to the people (or in this case, the rabbits). But all things come from the earth, and to the earth they shall one day return; if anything, Goodnight Moon reminds us of our mortality and search for self. And that is the greatest gift of all.
Of course, the thing I object most to in children's books are the celeb books. I picked up Jay Leno's If Roast Beef Could Fly in the bookstore, and very quickly put it back down. It was the most inane children's story I think I've ever read. As reported by USA Today: "The problem with children's books, comic Jay Leno says, is that they just aren't funny. 'They all look like Laura Ashley illustrations with one word and a boring moral at the end'" Let's look at the problems with this statement:
  1. Jay Leno's book isn't funny. Nada. Not even a little bit.
  2. The illustrations are horrendous and frightening (a child with that chin?).
  3. Yes, you can certainly make this generalization about the thousands and thousands of children's books published every year. None of them are funny and they all have horrendous illustrations.
Get over yourself, Jay. And I think that about exhausts the topic of children's books for one night.

(Tangent: Speaking of Amazon reviews, there's something so great about the relationship of Amazon customers and Family Circus. Every review a keeper here!)

No New New Yorkers

My latest New Yorker magazine came and on it was a cover that practically screamed, "Only one month to go!" In my old life, that would have had me scrambling to renew. But now I can only think, "Thank goodness!" Those New Yorkers have been piling up, taunting me, teasing me with this idea of an outside world that I've all but shut myself out of in favor of Sandra Boynton and Goodnight Moon. I've taken to asking the Tweedle Twirp (who reads the magazine regularly) to let me know if there are any must-read articles because I just can't find the time to find them myself.

The magazines are heaped by the living room arm chair, and I can't help but look at them guiltily, thinking about how little I know about what's going on in the world. My grandfather used to collect New Yorkers because he couldn't keep up with them either. Of course, he read them from cover to cover whereas I merely skim them for the cartoons and then read just the articles that look interesting. I think my grandfather stopped his subscription in 1986 and finally finished reading the stack that he had sometime in the early 1990s. I finally admitted defeat a couple of weeks ago and tossed a whole bunch of the magazines into recycling. And yet they're like bunnies, and even though I disposed of a good twenty, the pile has gone forth and multiplied.

At this point in my life, I'm not meant to be a New Yorker reader. That time will come again. Someday. (And let's not get into my thoughts on how much the magazine has deteriorated over the years. The David Remnick New Yorker is of course better than the Tina Brown New Yorker, but it's not the New Yorker I remember from, well, my New York years. Ah the William Shawn/Robert Gottlieb eras. Now those were the days...).

Those Pearly Whites

The DFC pays more attention to my son than I do, apparently. At lunch today with Wendy and Hannah, Hannah excitedly squealed (okay, not squealed, but it sounds better that way), "Look! Doodles is getting another tooth!"

"Yeah," I replied (note, I didn't "smirk" or "smile"; I "replied"). "He's teething and one of these days something will come through."

"No, no," Hannah said. "He's got another tooth now. Don't you see it? There's a tiny sliver of white on his upper gum."

I peered into Doodles mouth to no avail. He wouldn't open his upper lip for me. Finally, I just stuck my hand in there and much to his dismay, pulled back his lip to peer into his mouth as if he were a horse at market. Sure enough, the tiniest bit of enamel poked through the gum. How Hannah spotted it across the table, I have no idea, but there you go. The past couple of weeks of midnight screaming finally explained!

Of course the timing of this tooth is not ideal. We got a call from the doctor yesterday with the results of Doodles's blood test (which is standard at the nine month doctor's appointment): Little Doodles is anemic. Now don't get all in a tizzy (this is directed to my family; I'm sure the rest of you are happily tizzy-free right now). This is apparently quite common and one of the main reasons they do a blood test at nine months. From
During the first 6 months of life, babies are usually protected against developing iron deficiency due to the stores of iron built up in their bodies while they are in the uterus. However, by the second half of the first year of life, as infants continue to undergo significant growth, often they do not take in enough iron through breast milk alone or regular cow's milk (which contains less iron than fortified infant formula) to meet their iron needs.
Doodles is being treated by diet and an iron supplement. He'll be rechecked in six weeks. So what does this have to do with his pearly whites? Well, they're coming in just in time to be ashen grays. One of the side effects of the supplement he's taking is "temporary discoloration of teeth." Of course, they offer a solution: "For infants, a small amount of baking soda or tooth powder, placed on a small cloth and rubbed on the teeth once a week, will remove discoloration." Have you tried sticking your fingers into a piranha's--I mean, baby's--mouth, never mind with nasty tasting baking soda on your finger? Exactly. However, one of the things that grosses me out more than anything is yucky teeth (perhaps it was the six years I spent in braces that did it to me, but that's a tale for another day) and I know that I shall risk life and index finger to make sure my child's beautiful smile shines. The things I'll do for vanity.

Shoes Are Thicker Than Blood

The Doodles household was treated to a visit by our most wild cousin, Daniella, and her deceivingly mild-mannered fiancee, John. For those who haven't met Daniella in person, know that she is just like you and me, only times ten. Daniella is like a wind-up doll on speed. Except that she doesn't do drugs. Let me rephrase that. Daniella's only drug habit is the one that's fed by DSW.

The two of them together are constant comedy, and we had a terrific time hanging out. A nice lunch in Concord, a wander through a cemetary, breakfast at Zaftigs, an evening at home, and plenty of time spent exploring on their own--in other words, they were the ideal houseguests. And Daniella and Doodles took quite a shine to each other. Of course, I had to constantly remind Doodles to be on good behavior; he's not used to hanging out with other Bloggers.

Daniella actually reminds me of me in my pre-suburban-haus-frau life. Except for the shoe habit. I just don't get the shoe thing, but I've discussed that to death. And Daniella obviously doesn't get my lack of fashionista-ism. So here, we diverge. However, we'll always agree on Jazz Fest and that covers a lot of sins.