Wednesday, November 29

Blog Blahs

I know it's my blog day, but my eyes are bleary from work, you know, the real work, the kind that involves earning money and the kind that involves raising my two children. My two children who are equally amazing and frustrating these days. My daughter who is trying her damnedest to add in extra breastfeeds a day (I don't think so!) and throwing world-class tantrums when I don't give in. My daughter who now screeches when happy, which means whenever she's trying to throw herself off the couch, bite her mother, or attack her brother from behind. I'm think of buying Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic, but the thought of reading one more child-raising book just makes dizzy with ennui.

But just when I want to pull my hair out, she'll do something so incredibly cool, it stops my heart for just a second. The other night, I was finishing Doodles's bedtime routine. He was feeling cranky and just wanted to get to bed. I asked him: "Do you want to kiss Daddy and Sweetie good night?" He said no, but Sweetie, who was sitting next to us looking at books, heard me. She promptly got up, walked over to the chair, and pursed her little lips, leaning into Doodles. She tried twice to kiss him, and when he refused, she turned to me and gave me kisses. Job done, she turned right back around and resumed reading her books.

A random digression: we learned that Pie is a big fan of cranberry sauce. And turkey. And mashed potatoes. And stuffing. And carrots. And green beans. And pumpkin cake. And Doodles? Doodles had one roll and Oatmeal Squares and a little vanilla ice cream for his Thanksgiving dinner.

Now back to my children. Specifically, my son. My increasingly verbal son who also knows how to break my heart. Apropos of nothing the other day, he said: "I cry a lot at school."
Me: You do?
Doodles: Yes. I cry at school.
Me: Why do you cry at school?
Doodles: I cry because I want to be with my mommy.
Me: What do your teachers do when you cry?
Doodles: They say, "Don't cry. Don't cry!"
Me: They do?
Doodles: Yes. They say, "Don't cry! Your mommy will come back for you."
Me: And don't I always come back for you?
Doodles: Yes. I don't cry as much.

Those two amaze me. I'm not sure where these little creatures came from but I'm in complete awe of them. Yet they wear me out so that come Wednesday night, blogging is an effort. So now I give in and I'm off to bed. Good night.

Thursday, November 16

One of Those Days

I'm supposed to be making stuffing right now, but I've already made the cranberry sauce, two types of muffin (the cranberry pumpkin is delicious!), and prepared a strata that is now sitting in the fridge (since Thanksgiving is all family this year, we're having a couple of friends over for breakfast in the morning and to watch the parade on TV). The Tweedle Twirp is baking an apple pie and Adam is making hot chocolate (not for tomorrow; for right now). So I will take a break from the kitchen and tell you all about my day last Thursday. I know, I could be listing all the things I'm thankful for and get all sappy about the wonderful things in my life, but let's face it: that's not really me. Instead, last Thursday. It was one of those days.

As you recall, we last left our heroine alone with her two children while her husband "worked" in Vegas for the week, the sit-and-stand stroller locked away in the trunk of his car at Logan Airport. Of course, this particular Thursday was one of the few Thursdays that our heroine didn't have any plans. Our heroine has a fear of an empty day with both children (it's fine with one child when age-appropriate activities can be planned and supervised; not with two when it inevitably ends with either Doodles making off with the toy Pie was playing with or Pie climbing in the middle of Doodles's project/game/toy and dismantling it). So our heroine decided to hit the mall. And she also decided to begin writing in the first person.

Okay, so we're at the mall. With the double jogger. Did you know that a double jogger doesn't fit through 80 percent of the aisles in any given mall? Which means that I couldn't do 80 percent of the errands I needed to do.

While I get done the 20 percent of errands I can run, I'm walking through the mall quickly to try and avoid the two hot spots: Dunkin Donuts and Santa. The former guarantees an "I want it!!" meltdown and I'm just not ready to deal with the latter. Honestly, I was surprised the big guy was already out--we were still a full week before Thanksgiving.

But then another meltdown is occurring. The "nothing is going to make me happy except your b*oob" meltdown, and once again, I cave to the Pie and break weaning rule #173: no feeding in public places (although the whole Delta airlines thing makes me want to very publicly breastfeed, except of course that I don't want to breastfeed period so what's a gal to do?) and she gets her twelfth breastfeed of the morning.

Then it's off to Gap Baby, as the kids need socks and it's one of the few stores that have socks that fit extra wide feet. While I'm there I look around for a shower gift and check out a few outfits for Pie. And then I look up. And Doodles is gone. Not there. Doodles and I had been chatting with the saleswoman, so she quickly went to the back of the store to look for him in all open areas as I weaved through the aisles, fighting back the panic that was quickly rising up. Luckily, it was less than a minute before a woman at the door said, "There's a little boy out here. Is that who you're looking for?" I ran out and sure enough, down the way, Doodles was standing looking down through the glass wall at the floor below. I practically laughed I was so relieved but I was also so mad I wanted to cry. Doodles was oblivious. "But you were with me! You came with me," he insisted.

We needed to regroup. The three of us headed down to Johnny Rockets so Doodles could have a plate of French fries. I get him his fries. Pie has a hot dog. I'm trying to down a burger, keep Doodles out of the neighboring booth, keep Pie out of the ketchup, "indoor voice, please!" "Pie's eating my fries!" "Pie, hands on your own plate. Doodles, you don't need twelve napkins. Pie, please sit down. Doodles, please sit down. Doodles, please take one bite of your hot dog. Pie, please slow down and chew your hot dog." All of a sudden a face appears next to Pie. A very familiar face. But I'm trying to pick Doodles's train off the floor and keep Pie from spitting out her milk, so I'm slow to process when this familiar person points to Pie's fries and asks, "Are these hers?" "Yes," I say. And then, as he takes a fry--one of Pie's fries!--and Pie starts to scream bloody murder because no one, absolutely no one, is allowed to take food from Pie and Doodles starts asking over and over, "Who's that? Who's that? Who's that?" that I realize who is stealing food from my daughter: the mall Santa. Before I even know how to react, Pie's screaming scares Santa off. The waiter comes bustling over: "Santa! Did Santa come to visit you?" and I practically hiss, "We don't celebrate Christmas!"

I head off the question--I'm prepared for the Christmas/Santa conversation; I just wasn't prepared at that particular moment--and we all head home. Pie goes to bed. Doodles plays quietly. And I check my e-mail. Now, you need to know that the town I live in has a parents e-mail list. I don't know how many people are on this e-mail but I'd reckon close to a thousand. Don't know where I got that number; I may have just pulled it out of my butt. Anyway, there's a lot of activity of the list on the subject of a local daycare. I open and read the first e-mail. And I start to laugh. It starts by explaining that the poster was walking by a day care (which she doesn't name but does describe) when she saw something:

"I noticed that there was a young toddler, 12-15 months or so, who was laying face down in the sand not moving. Two of the teachers were facing her so it seemed foolish to call their attention to her. I did slow right down and had a good look at her and it was clear that she was sleeping, and didn't look particularly uncomfortable, though I wouldn't want to sleep with my face in damp sand."
Lots of e-mails followed expressing concern for the child, the center, the judgment of the teachers.

Anyone want to take a guess at who that child was?

Yep. Pie. My Pie. My Pie who is supposed to be readjusting to one nap a day, but is stubbornly refusing. My Pie who, when tired, will just lay down anywhere. My Pie, who I specifically told the center, "Hey, if she falls asleep, just let her sleep where she is, but wake her up after ten minutes." My Pie who chose this day to fall asleep in the sand. (And for the record, her face was not in the sand.) And cause a complete ruckus in our little town. As I'm sure anyone who spends any time online knows, the discussion got quite heated at times.

And now? Adam's back. The parents list has moved on to other topics. My son hasn't pulled any disappearing acts. My daughter hasn't--well, okay, she is still catnapping at any given opportunity and sneaking in extra breastfeeds. In other words, everything's back to normal.

Now, about that stuffing....

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Wednesday, November 15

From the Everyone's a Critic Department

Doodles: What is that?
Me: What?
Doodles: What are you wearing?
Me: This? This is my new turtleneck.
Doodles: Turtleneck?
Me: Yes. It's soft and comfy.
Doodles: I don't like it. Take it off.

From the &*#%@*# Department

I'm home. Alone. With two children. While my husband is on a "business" trip to Vegas. The kind of trip where he calls at 9 a.m. eastern time and I say, "Wow, you slept late! Last time you were on the West Coast, you were up at 4 every morning," and his reply is, "Well, I was up till 2:30 playing craps, so you know."

So I'm out. With my two children. Alone. Trying to run errands. When I pop the back of the minivan and find... Nothing. And definitely not my can't-live-without-Joovy stroller.

Quick phone call to Vegas.

Me: Um, when you took everything out of the car after our trip to New York, did you put the stroller back in or did you leave me high and dry?
Adam: Um, I didn't put it back in?
Me: Would I be calling if you had?
Adam: Hmm, I thought I put it back in.
Me: Nope. [deep sigh] Okay, well, I'll scratch today's errands. It's in the basement at home?
Adam: No, I don't think it's in the basement. Is it still in my car?
Me: Your car?
Adam: Yeah, I think it's in my car.
Me: That would be the car sitting at Logan Airport until you get home in four days?
Adam: That would be the one.


From the Good Parenting Department

It's Sunday. Pie wants to take a morning nap. Pie is not allowed to take a morning nap. Pie is only allowed one nap a day. Pie is cranky and fussy and generally unpleasant to be around. Mom and Dad are at wits end. But Mom and Dad can't give in.

What to do?

We found the perfect stay-awake solution: chocolate milk. Nothing like sugar and a touch of caffeine to keep a kid happy and wired.

We'll await the call to accept our Parents of the Year award.

From the Good Intentions Department

I didn't actually witness this conversation, but Adam told me about it and it was too good not to share:

Doodles (out of nowhere): Are my breastfeeds growing?
Adam: Huh?
Doodles: Are my breastfeeds getting bigger?
Adam: What are your breastfeeds?
Doodles: They're under my shirt. Are they growing?
Adam: I don't think your breasts are going to grow
Doodles: I need them to get bigger so I can feed Sweetie.

Wednesday, November 8

Marathon Mom

So, it turns out I was right in the first place: there really isn't much to blog about the marathon. The Tweedle Twirp was correct in telling me, "All those jinxes were good! You got all the bad stuff out of the way and now you can run a great marathon!"

The trip to New York was hunky dory. The kids were well behaved and, except for that smell that began to seep out of Pie's diaper around New Rochelle, the trip was uneventful. We gave a ride to another runner, and Adam dropped the two of us at the Expo center on our way into town Friday evening. What a difference a day makes. Whereas last time, when I went on Saturday, the lines snaked out of the building, on Friday evening we walked right in. I went to the "Solutions Desk," and they did indeed solution my wheelchair problem. Hallelujah! It's a miracle! I can walk again! In fact, I ended up with a lower number (when I signed up, I think I predicted at 4:45 or 5 hour marathon and I knew I could do much better than that) and she asked me which color I'd like to start with. I didn't have a preference and she said, "I'll give you blue. That's a good one--you start on top of the bridge." And then she gave me a bus pass! How sweet was that? I was able to actually enjoy the rest of the Expo.

The next day was pretty mellow--breakfast with a friend then off to see my mom's show at her gallery. A walk through a street fair and back to the hotel for naps all around. Sleeping wasn't great on this trip--Doodles completely rebelled and Pie regressed to two naps a day. Actually that first day, Doodles was a royal pain in the tush, to the point where I seriously thought I was going to have to send him back home with Adam and Pie. "Terrible Threes" doesn't begin to describe the stunts he was pulling, but you know what? This entry is about ME, so I'm going to spare you the scream-inducing details. Suffice it to say we made the trip manageable for all of us by allowing Doodles copious--and I do mean copious!--amounts of TV.

Post-nap we went our for cookies and then to my folks' place and headed out for a non-pasta dinner (the carbo loading is most important two nights before--which I did--and by Saturday night I was thoroughly sick of pasta).

And then: Sunday. I woke a zillion times in the night (didn't help that Doodles was crammed between me and Adam, with his little head shoved into my side and his feet under Adam) and I finally got up at 4:55 a.m., five minutes before the alarm. I got dressed and headed to meet my friend to hop the bus to the start. This is definitely the most tedious part of the marathon--just waiting for the start. We took a 5:30 bus but the marathon didn't start till 10:10. The sun was just starting to come up when we got off the bus at the start in Staten Island. We had to split up, because she had a seeded number (she told me later that she got distracted at the start, because she looked up and over to the other side of the bridge, and there was Lance).

So I waited. And waited. And waited. Used the portapotty a bunch. Got some Tylenol. Drank a lot of tea. Jumped up and down trying to keep warm. Had a little massage. And I waited. And waited. Finally it was time to line up. We started to move up before the gun went off and sure enough the bathrooms emptied out. I was actually able to run in and be out in time to hear the starting gun. With my "low" number (if 30012 can really be considered low), it only took me ten minutes to cross the starting line. I decided to hang out with the 4:30 pace group. I really had no idea what my speed would be--hard to tell in training what you can reasonable sustain over 4 1/2 to 5 hours. My goal was a 4:45 marathon. My stretch goal was a 4:30 marathon. My real don't-admit-it-to-anyone-but-what-I'm-really-hoping-for goal was a 4:22 marathon.

I kept with the pace group in the beginning, but realized I found it distracting. I wasn't paying as much attention to the crowds and the music and the scenery because I was so focused on keeping up with the group. I also found the run to be much, much denser this time, and I exerted way too much energy weaving in and out and around people. It was a tad claustrophobic. I made friends with another woman, Kelly, and we chatted and ran together for a while, but I soon discovered if I ran just in front of the pace group, it was a little less crowded.

My first goal was my family at mile 11. Unfortunately I didn't know which side of the street they'd be on, so I slowed down from the pace group so I could get a good look. My right knee started to bother me, but I decided to ignore it. At about 11 1/2 miles I spotted them. Doodles was day dreaming and even though I screamed his name about 12 times, he barely saw me. Pie was asleep in Adam's backpack. And I just kept running. At this point, the miles were coming fast and furious, just melting away. But about halfway over the Queensboro Bridge, my knee really started to bother me, to the point where I feared I might have to drop out. I considered stopping at a medical tent, but told myself I'd go just a little farther and think about stopping at the next one. I started to walk through the water stops, and that helped considerably. By this time the pace team was ahead of me, but I just kept a steady pace and around mile 18 or so, I had caught up, and by mile 19, they were definitely behind me. At mile 20, the Tweedle Twirp was waiting for me with a friend. "My knee hurts!" I told her. She replied, "Just keep going! Keep running!" so I did.

Around this point, I was relieved that I had broken through the wall. I knew I was going to have the energy to sustain me to the end, as long as my knee held out. But this is also the point where each mile doubles in length. The miles were no longer melting away, but sloooooooooowly stretchhhhhhing ooooooouuuuutttt. I had to resist the urge to run faster, because five miles after 21 miles is still a long way to go. So I just kept a steady pace.

Once I hit 23 miles, I knew I'd make it even if I had to crawl across the finish line, so I let myself speed up a little. I would have liked to have sped up even more, but there were still so many runners on the course that it was difficult to navigate around them. I still walked at water stations--even at mile 25 (didn't want to collapse because of my knee in mile 26)--but I felt great. I powered through the end, feeling like a champ. Adam and the Pie were apparently at the end, at 250 yards, but I didn't even notice them, I was so in the zone. I flew through the finish line, clocking in at 4:25:07. Despite being three minutes off my dream goal, I was exceedingly pleased (remember, my only other marathon was a 5:19 marathon!). I feel confident that given a flatter, less crowded course, I could do it.

After the race, I gathered with my family and a close friend at my parents' place for pizza and wine. The next day I got my medal engraved, bought a finisher's shirt, and spent the morning at the Central Park Zoo. The ride back was fine except that the Pie was finished with it about 45 minutes before we were finished with it, which made for a painfully loud experience.

As far as body woes, my knee now seems to be fine. I have one very, very ugly toe (I tried to take a picture of it for all of you, but you can be grateful that it didn't come out well enough to really appreciate the black, bloody, bruised thing that it is) but I'm itching to get back out there.

So now? Now we need to get Pie back to her one-nap-a-day schedule. We need to wean Doodles from his TV. And I need to get back in my running shoes. Only two months and twenty days until the Miami Marathon! 4:22, here I come!

You Better Appreciate This!

I bet you can't tell that I'm working right now. No, really, I am. Okay, I'm not. I'm blogging for all of you, my not-quite-adoring public (who are you people, anyway?). I've been having these awful Bambi moments. You know, the deer in the headlights who's frozen and doesn't know which way to move? I have so much to get done (three freelance projects, holiday and birthday shopping (how dare all you folks who so rudely have birthdays in November and December? And why are there so many of you?), a synagogue activity I'm chairing, Thanksgiving to plan, and, oh yeah, two kids to raise) that I don't know where to begin, so I am instead blogging for you. What dedication! Or is that idiocy? Or is there even a difference anymore?

Sunday, November 5

Tavern on the Green or Bust...

And I didn't bust!

Wednesday, November 1


Well, we survived another Halloween (photos posted). I imagine it will only get worse and worse, but this year was not a pretty year given Doodles's competing all-greed for things chocolate vs. his all-fear of people in masks.

Last year I took Doodles and Pie on a hayride at our local farm stand. Oh, how he loved it! We went on it twice. For the entire year, he asked, "Is it time for the spooky hayride? Can we go on the spooky hayride?" and I'd have to explain that it only happens at Halloween time and I promised him we could go the next Halloween.

Fast forward to this Halloween. We go on the spooky hayride, me, the Pie, and Doodles. The Pie is completely nonchalant. Looking around. Observing calmly. Hanging out. Doodles is sitting next to me, a little unsure of things. And then the scary farmer man--with a seriously scary mask--comes chasing us. Doodles doesn't do anything except stiffen and lean into me a little. I spend the rest of the ride saying, "It's just a man in the mask. Just a man in the mask! Nothing to be afraid of; it's just a man in a mask." Towards the end of the ride, the farmer gets into a tractor decorated with corn, hay, and whatnot to chase the hayride. Doodles seems fine. We finish the ride, the Doodles gets a lollipop, Pie an apple. We walk around, look at the animals, do our produce shopping.

And then the nightmares begin. The no-longer-just-waking-up-to-climb-into-Mommy-and-
Daddy's-bed waking but the lying-in-bed-wake-up-Pie-screaming-and-crying-Moooooommmmmmy!-come-get-me! waking. And the next time we head to our local farm stand, Doodles protests. "I don't want to go."

Me: But you love to go!
Doodles: I don't want to go.
Me: Don't you want to pick out your Shabbat cookie? [Doodles gets an after-dinner treat after dinner every Friday night]
Doodles is clearly torn here.
Doodles: Where is the hayride?
Me: The hayride isn't going now. It's not open yet for the day.
Doodles: Is the hayride sleeping?
Me: Sure! The hayride is sleeping, getting ready for more kids to ride it.
Doodles: Do we have to ride it?
Me: No. Did you want to ride it?
Doodles: No! Where is the farmer and the corn car?
Me: He's not here. Remember, it's only a man in a mask!
Doodles: Is the farmer sleeping?
Me: Maybe! I do know that he's not here now.
Doodles: Where's the corn car?
Me: Away. Do you want to pick out your cookie?
Doodles thinks about it.
Doodles: Okay.

So I was definitely feeling trepidation about trick-or-treating. Doodles and Pie were both witches this year (when I asked Doodles what he wanted to be for Halloween, he said in no uncertain terms, "I want to be a witch! And Pie wants to be a witch, too!"), but when asked, he'll emphasize he's a friendly witch, even though Adam's taught him to say, "I'm going to get you, my pretty!" Surprisingly, though, trick or treating was fine. The year before last it was quiet so last year, I didn't buy a ton of candy. Of course we had a steady stream of trick or treaters all night and I worried we were going to run out of candy. So this year I bought a ton and it was another quiet year. The plus side to this was not many people out in masks, so Doodles was fine, except that we only went to a handful of houses (we only went where we knew the neighbors) and he would have preferred a few more.

And now we have a house full of candy that I'm going to end up eating. Luckily we rescued Doodles and Pie from the evils of candy around, as we borrowed an idea from one of Adam's coworkers. On Halloween night, after the trick-or-treating is done and everyone is asleep, the Switch Witch will come. The Switch Witch is a nice witch. All we need to do is bundle all our candy and leave it for her on the front porch (because I am so not getting into the concept of a witch entering the house. A friend of Doodles was told about the Tooth Fairy and she freaked at the idea of a fairy simply coming into their house, to the point where her father had to explain that the Tooth Fairy only comes if she's invited and that he went onto the Web and removed her name from the Tooth Fairy's list, so she won't come to their house). Then the Switch Witch comes and takes the candy and in its place leaves a toy that won't rot teeth and make children overly hyper. Doodles asked about her all night. "Is the Switch Witch sleeping now? Is the Switch Witch a nice witch? Is the Switch Witch here yet?" Brilliant, huh? If only the Switch Witch took care of grown-ups, too.

The Runner's Curse

Let me say this off the bat: I completely brought this upon myself. I have no one I can blame. I placed the curse upon myself.

I had the gall--the gall, I say!--to think to myself, "Wow, after the last action-packed marathon, this marathon will really give me nothing to blog about. I know all the ins and outs of the marathon. I know the tricks. I'm fully prepared. I'll have nothing to write but, 'I ran my second marathon and I had a time of XXX.'"

Which is how I jinxed this marathon. Yes, that's right. This marathon is completely jinxed for me.

Let's start with the sinus infection. I'm feeling probably 80 percent better. But that doesn't bother me as much as the words of my doctor, which keep running through my head. "You may not feel healthy enough to run. You may not feel healthy enough to run. You may not feel healthy enough to run." The power of positive thinking right? Yeah, right.

Then there was the missing registration card. The ING site said, "All U.S. registration cards will be mailed the week of Oct. 13." So I waited. And waited. No card. Where is my card? The card that is essential for getting my race number at the expo? No card. Then, this week, an e-mail arrived that read, "If you didn't get your registration card in the mail, you can use this e-mail," which leads me to believe they didn't mail all the cards out. Okay, that's all right. Taken care of.

Then I called the hotel this week to confirm our reservation. Oh, they had it all right. For twice as long as we had intended on staying. Thank goodness I called because they had us down as arriving on Thursday. Can you imagine how thrilled I would have been had I shown up on Friday only to find that they not only charged my credit card the $358 for Thursday night but had since given away our room? Okay, that's all taken care of. We should be good for our Friday arrival.

I printed out my registration card and took a good look at it for the first time. There I was. Yep. Jennifer Brown. Age 38. It's me. But wait? No bus pass? I know I signed up for a bus pass as it's the only reasonable way to get to the start line! What a pain in the neck. I've got to make sure to remember to buy a bus pass at the expo instead of nicely and conveniently having it printed on my bib number.

I know, I know. You're thinking, "This really isn't all that big a deal. You're stressing over nothing." Which would be true if it weren't for the final thing. The ultimate jinx. The voice-from-above "I gave you plenty of signs you shouldn't run and yet you ignore me" jinx.

I took a closer look at my registration card. I noted my bib number. Last time I ran my bib number was 47474. A nice high number because I had put down a very slow predicted race time. No biggie. But this time my race number is W409. That's odd. Did they change the numbering schematic? And then I look one more time. There it is on the side, in all caps. "WHEELCHAIR START." Um, hello? HELLO!!!! I DON'T THINK SO!

I e-mailed the New York Road Runners, of course, and I received back a lovely terse e-mail that read, "Our records indicate that you signed up as handcrank when you applied. pls. go to the help desk at the expo." No, I did NOT sign up as handcrank. I may be a handcrank but I do not use a handcrank and I fully intend on completing this marathon on my own two feet. I have tremendous respect and admiration for wheelchair runners; I'm just not one of them!

While it's certainly provided much fodder for the household banter ("Do we have plans for next Wednesday? I want to go out for dinner with a friend." "Well, I suppose it's okay. I'm sure I'll have managed to navigate bathtime in the wheelchair by then"), it's turning me into a stress monkey. Which in a way is good, because I'm not stressing about the race itself. But it's one more hassle to deal with and I find myself being extra careful when I run because I'm convinced I'm going to break a limb. (Again, the voice from above: "You wanted a wheelchair start? Well, I'll give you a wheelchair start!") Adam's convinced it's no big deal and they'll fix it at the expo but I'm pretty sure they're just making me go to the help desk to publicly humiliate me and strip me of my running shoes.

One big jinx. And for those of you in NYC, come watch me. You can't miss me. I'll be the only wheelchair runner not in a wheelchair.