Friday, June 3, 2011

So a girl walks into a lunch place . . .

. . . and sits down to enjoy her first solitary meal in a year.

Yep, that's me. I'll be in Salt Lake in a couple of weeks, sans children, and I'm looking for some recommendations.

1. My bra store closed. I am in need. Is there a good one there? (And by a good one, I do not mean Victoria's Secret. Nor do I mean anything "adult". I need useful, practical bras for the . . . shall we say, buxom consumer.)

2. Where should we eat? (Warning: admitted food snob. Not even trying to recover.)

3. Should you happen to be in the area of where I will be enjoying my solitary meal on Friday in a few weeks, I would not mind sharing my table with you. (Purposefully cryptic. You understand. Wouldn't want my thousands of Utahn stalkers to go on high alert.) E-mail me if you're interested.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The blahs

1. I received an e-mail the other day with this ubiquitous stamp at the bottom: "Sent from my iPhone 4"

It isn't enough that you have an iPhone and I don't -- you have to throw in the "4" just to rub it in. I got an iPad for Mother's Day, and I hate to use it for e-mail because I haven't figured out yet how to turn off that little statement, with all of it's implications: I didn't want to say anything, but you should know that now I am more super awesome than you are. And also I probably have more money. Or at least I did before I dropped a bundle on this gadget. Neener, neener!

2. If I received a terminal diagnosis tomorrow, here is where I would go for my drop dead trip:

Redwoods in the Mist
Redwoods in the Mist. Photo found here.

The giant trees are calling to me, people. I don't know what it is about these trees, but I could conjure up a good cry just looking at pictures. Every time I sit down at the computer to work on something, somehow I end up scrolling through images of Redwood National Park. I know, this gives me more in common with Kate Gosselin than I would ordinarily admit to, but the draw is undeniable.

There's an old growth forest further west, way up in the mountains here, called Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest -- one of the largest tracts of untouched hardwoods east of the Mississippi. I've been, and it's awe-inspiring: some of the oldest trees are over 400 years old. I was no less tearful there, but I still want to see the giants.

3. Here is what happened in at our house yesterday: Craig had an MRI (not, actually, in our house) on his right knee (most likely a torn meniscus, surgery pending), which he injured a mere fraction of a second after breaking his left foot in a thoroughly un-macho way; Mason was diagnosed with Mononucleosis pending the virus titer results we'll have in another day or so (HOW does a 4-year-old get mono?!?); I decided since he really is sick I'll stop being so hard on him about the whining, but heaven help me if he's going to whine like this for the next month; Laney puked all over the neighbor's swingset and then had diarrhea in her vomit bathwater; Garrett was stung by a hornet, giving me a great opportunity to whip out my package of chewing tobacco; my eyes glazed over and Craig had to hit the reset button when he got home from work; and the hero also brought dinner. (This is why my sister stopped wallowing: my day was WAAAAAY worse than hers.)

4. I won a dress from Shabby Apple. All I did to enter was give some money to Rising Star Outreach on behalf of Karl Marx, the little boy sponsored by MommySnark. My sister, Jenny (who is also Mommy Snark) sponsored the giveaway, and she told me that once the winner was determined, and it was me, just for kicks, she tried the random number generator again. It was still me. Eight times in a row. So it's karma. Yay for a new dress!

5. But booh to the blahs. And writer's block, from which I am suffering something fierce. I think it's because my brain is being slowly liquefied from overexposure to bodily secretions not my own. That's right, childless people! How's that for birth control?

6. I just read this to my husband, and he said, "It's great. It doesn't have to be a work of art every time you post." (What? This amazingly fantastical post is not a work of art?!? How dare he?!?) Except it does, or so I've led myself to believe. And apparently, I'm incapable lately. (Kim, please ignore all the sentence fragments, and the egregious run-on.) Oh, well. Aaaaaannnd . . . Publish!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I came, I saw . . . I finished.

So it turns out I don't have ESP. Funny, considering those are my initials. But really. I believe I am anti-clairvoyant, and here's why:

In twelve weeks of running, I have failed to predict the next song to come up on my iPod 100% of the time. That's right, folks. My record stands perfect at zero hits, a bazillion misses.

Futile attempts to develop some degree of musical prescience only made up a fraction of the time I spent on the treadmill, trail, or road over the last three months. I also counted the bricks in my basement fireplace, and may have even, one groggy early morning, confused the complete lack of pattern in their placement for an image of Hugh Jackman. I made grocery lists in my head, air-viola-ed (left hand only, of course), and played the games I use to get myself to sleep at night (ready . . . name a world river starting with each letter of the alphabet . . . Go! Okay, now shoe manufacturers! Good! How about vegetables? Colors? Authors? Car models? Famous actors who can actually act? I could go on . . .) Best of all, I calculated what percentage of my run was complete, and extrapolated calories to have been burned by the finish line.

Anything to pass the time, right? I love to run, I really do, but sometimes I need something mind-numbing to push my body past the point I was sure I could never reach.

This past January, we spent some time at DisneyWorld, and as we headed in to the Magic Kingdom for the day, we caught the tail end of racers competing in the Disney Half Marathon. I surprised myself by tearing up a little -- these people came in all shapes and sizes, ages, and degrees of mobility, and I was utterly inspired. I surprised myself even more when I heard these words come out of my mouth: "I can do that."

My race was this past Saturday. On the registration website, there's a sweet little exit clause for the half-marathoners: no charge to do a last-minute switch to the 10K race, run concurrently on the same course. So when I checked the weather for race day, and saw 100% chance of rain and strong thunderstorms, I was grateful for a back-up plan.

I will not lie: as all of the short-distance runners began peeling away from the pack at 3.5 miles to finish off their race and I realized I had ten more to go, I wanted, as badly as I wanted a baby to FINALLY EXIT MY LOINS ALREADY, to be done. I wanted to pretend I took a wrong turn and ended up at the finish line an hour and a half early. My sweat-and-rain-water-soaked gear (which may never be the same again) would have been no less soaked from the shorter distance.

And I still can't tell you why I didn't. Extreme amounts of will power? Probably not. Mind numbed by a horrid combination of persistent rain, runner's trots (TMI, but thank my lucky stars for gas station bathrooms), and a total lack of pop/rock/hip hop ESP? Perhaps. The prospect of lunch (ahem -- dessert) at the Cheesecake Factory to replenish 1700 calories burned instead of a mere 750? A definite possibility. But after 200 miles run, twelve pounds lost, a (self-diagnosed) bruised metatarsal, a sprained ankle, and a broken (I'm pretty darn sure because otherwise it wouldn't have hurt so darn much) pinky toe, I don't know how I kept going -- I can only quote my effervescent and inimitable LaneyKate, who's first uttered phrase was this: "I did it."

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Thursday, January 27, 2011


This past weekend, Craig and I attended the funeral of his much-loved grandmother. We reconnected with members of his family we haven't seen in ages, and spent a particularly touching evening with all of the extended family, reminiscing about Grandma: her many idiosyncrasies, her intelligence and ingenuity, but most off all, her powerful influence -- an influence that, no doubt, will send ripples through the generations in both directions.

She raised five sons. Those five boys are all, I'm happy to report, extremely civilized and happy in their adulthood. This surprises me not because I know them now, but because I have inherited Grandma's life's work: raising sons.

I don't always love this job. In fact, there are times that I downright detest it. Don't get me started about dirty bathrooms and the tendency to turn everything into a weapon. They've even taught their little sister so much about defending herself that they call her our "Tackle Baby" -- a weapon, indeed. I could go on and on about potty mouth, fascination with gross noises, and the hearing aids I'm pretty sure I already need as a result of the perpetual escalation of indiscriminate noise-making.

Over Christmas break, I was talking to my sister on the phone one day while doing the dishes. my childrens' noise level became so unbearably loud that I could no longer hear what she was saying. It sounded like howler monkeys had invaded my living room, and were entertaining themselves by swinging back and forth between the Christmas tree and the ceiling fan.

"Jenny!" I moaned. "I think I live in Lord of the Flies! And I'm a little afraid that I am Piggy!"

And then, of course, I immediately got off the phone and turned my attention to the thing that should have, actually, had my attention in the first place: my unruly clutch of male-children, waiting, desperately, to be civilized by the touch of a woman.

I noticed something interesting about my children very early on: they have always been calmed by the presence of an older female. Their cousin, Lucy, has an especially settling effect on them. She's a born boss (it's one of the many reasons I love her!) and even though she's but 15 months older than my twins, when she starts barking out orders, they listen.

Last summer, I would go spend the day at Jenny's house and let the kids (all boys, except for Lucy) play: sandbox, Wii, swimming at the community pool, usually followed by a couple of Little Caesar's pizzas thrown onto the back deck with a box of Capri Suns and instructions to stay outside until their swimsuits were dry. Lucy would make sure everyone was done eating, then line them up in Mother-May-I fashion for the orderly distribution of popsicles while Jenny and I sipped our Cokes and watched from the kitchen table on the other side of the french doors. I was fascinated -- awed, even -- by how different boys behave when there's a little estrogen in the room.

As I've struggled through the past six weeks of schoollessness (yes, it's a word -- I just coined it) brought on by three weeks of Christmas break, a week of DisneyWorld, and a bunch of snow days, I have often lamented to those who are required to listen (husband, sister, mother, friend) that my house right now is not at all the way my house was when I was growing up. I am the oldest of four, and my two brothers are seven years apart. They did not rough-house. They did not horse around. They did not wrestle, tackle, bite, kick, fight, body-slam, or fart on each other. Our house was loud and happy, but it was not a testosterone-laden den of boy smells and car noises.

I said this to Craig the other day, and he sort of snorted. "Oh, this is exactly what it was like at my house."

God bless his mother. She had exactly what I have now, in reverse order: girl, boy (Craig), then three years later, identical twins. She had the intelligence to quit after the twins, as many more-sane people do, and you should hear the laundry list of antics those three got up to. Someone once gave them boxing gloves for Christmas. I kid you not. And I think it actually worked. Nothing stops fighting like good, old-fashioned permission.

While listening to all of those stories about Craig's grandmother, I realized exactly what we're here for: to civilize. She raised five sons who have all made lasting contributions to the world they live in. They have raised families of their own, started businesses, served others, and lived the Gospel. And the reason they had the skills to do what they have is because their mother recognized the potential underneath the wild-man exterior that, I'm convinced, every boy exhibits to some degree. She molded them, shaped them, prepared them to be husbands, fathers, and leaders, helped them become so much better than they could have ever been without the calming influence of the great civilizer of society: the mother.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Is this thing on?

Tap, tap, tap . . . is this thing on? Is anybody still out there? Can you hear me? This must be what it feels like to play a one-woman show to an empty theater. Of course, in my case the theater is empty because I've failed to show up for curtain call. For a month. Again.

So here's what I want you to do: immerse me. I've hit "Mark all as read" so many times in my Google reader it's not even funny, and I know I've missed some stuff. Probably, some pretty good stuff. So link up. Send me to the things I didn't comment on, but should have -- whether you wrote them or not. I've never visited your blog? Now is the time to tell me about it. I want to be here, in this virtual world, and it's time to catch up.

Crickets . . . (Oh, how I wish I could write the sound that they make instead of just saying "crickets". That's lame. But you can still hear them, right?)

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Friday, December 3, 2010

And . . . and . . . and

A few months ago, my wonderful husband Craig started making some noise about goals. He's always been active, and we spend a lot of time doing stuff that is likely to wear out our kids, but this was different. Finally, one day, he came right out and said it: "I want to do a triathlon."

Well, okay. Sounds great. But I am the CFO of our family, so of course, my first question was, "How much is this gonna cost?"

"Oh, not much. I already have a mountain bike, so I'll just switch out the knobby tires for some skinny ones, and that should do it."

I was really supportive of this $40 investment (thank you, Craigslist).

Then he told me he needed to improve his swim time. (Since the last time he did anything in the water other than A. toss around children or B. water ski was, like, in high school, I would assert he had a bit more to do than just "improve" his time.) So we joined a local fitness center with a pool, and he started training a la Michael Phelps (minus the weed) immediately.

After that first swim, Craig came home and said, "I need some good goggles. And if I really want to be competitive, I need to get triathlon trunks so I can go from the water to the bike without having to change."

So he ordered his little triathlon suit. Turns out, the triathlon suit is not recommended for use in chlorinated water. So then he had to order a Speedo (feel free to laugh . . . I do every time it puts it on) to wear in the pool.

And then he decided his mountain bike was just not going to cut it. After a long ride one Saturday, Craig came inside and said, "My mountain bike weighs, like, 35 pounds. I could go so much faster on a road bike!"

Okay, I said. See what you can find on Craigslist.

Have you seen my husband? All 6'5" of him? Let's just say there aren't a whole lot of second-hand bikes around made for giants. He gave it his best effort, but to no avail.

So he bought a new one. We call it the White Beast. I need a step ladder to sit on it.

And then he had to have a jersey that wouldn't show his . . . crack while he was riding. And then he had to have zip ties for his running shoes to "improve transition time", plus pedals he can clip into, and the special shoes that go with them. Did I mention the speedometer for the bike, and a new helmet, and the little nasty gel things he eats while he's biking?

Finally, one night we were out to dinner with my sister, Jenny, and her husband Josh (who also competed in the triathlon with Craig). We were talking about all the gear required and suddenly, it dawned on me: I have given the mouse a cookie. As well as some milk to go with it.

When all was said and done, Craig lost 25 pounds and finished his first triathlon with a more than respectable time. He plans to do another one in the spring. And he only has to do 47 more before I'll be satisfied he's gotten his money's worth out of all of that gear.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Help Me, Karma

I went for a run on Monday morning at the park. I just discovered we have a greenway, and while I appreciate the blessing of having both a treadmill and a place to put it, I am SOOOO much happier running on the ground, counting species as I go.

So I was running along, minding my own business, plugged into Muse and Chris Isaac, thanking God for the miracle that is my husband (who used his unexpectedly long lunch break to mind our kids at the playground while I ran) when suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge hornet attached itself to my right index finger. Apparently, I distracted him from something extremely important because he stung with one end and bit with the other until I flicked him off, and then ended his short life with my brand new running shoes. It hurt. I cried out. But I kept going, because, you know, I was running! I was high on life! And I was way far away from the van, and Mason had to be picked up from preschool in a half hour!

To add insult to injury, as I danced a tarantella (hornetella?) down the trail, trying, I suppose, to shake the venom out of my finger, I realized that if I didn't find a way to empty my bladder pronto, I'd be jogging back to civilization in need of a diaper change. (Curse you, stress incontinence -- you are my least favorite side effect of childbirth ever.) So I waited until there were no other people in sight on the trail, and ducked into the cornfield where I actually considered peeing on my throbbing finger, a method that according to both Survivor and Friends (my favorite sources for first aid advice) works on a jellyfish sting. I put myself back together and finished my run, and by the time I met my family at the playground, my finger was really beginning to swell.

By the next day, I looked like I had hijacked the entire right arm of a much larger woman -- one with sausage fingers and a killer case of pitting edema. I couldn't hold a pen. I couldn't open a bottle. I couldn't take Benadryl because, well, I have four children and must remain awake and standing for most of the activities required by their care. It took a solid week for the itching and swelling to subside.

Lately, it seems like every time I make an effort towards better physical fitness, something goes wrong: iPod battery dead as a doornail. Baby nap over before I can even get through the first mile on the treadmill. Rain when I plan to run out doors, kids too sick for the gym when I'm ready for a class. I just can't seem to get into the groove. I'm trying, but I think the groove hates me.

I'm ready for some karma. I need a tailwind the next time I hit the trail for a race -- Saturday, maybe? How about an unexpectedly warm 8AM temperature so my fingers aren't frostbitten at the finish line? A little bit of instant gratification would go a long way towards motivating more hard work: a faster time, a pound or two lost, a second wind, an improvement . . . help me, karma.

Unless, of course, it involves hornets.

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