Thursday, September 30, 2010

In the (literal) shit

Day 175

Day 265

Part of being a parent is cleaning up other people's crap. Not figurative crap (though, that too), but actual crap. Some days are more...productive...than others. And some are just downright horrifying.

Our morning playgroup activity was canceled on account of rain, so I was home all day with two very stir-crazy children. On the plus side, it gave me a chance to make a sizable dent in the pre-trip laundry that needed washing. However, in addition to the general manic behavior of the wee ones, it was a day of prodigious pooping.

It wasn't the sheer number of poopy diapers I changed today (which was actually a rather modest 4, between the 2 kids). No, there were some other aspects that made the day...memorable.

First at bat we had the boyo. As he is occasionally wont to do, he decided it was the perfect sort of morning for ridding himself of pants and just running around in a diaper. Usually I'm perfectly okay with this, but that attitude backfired on me today. It started when I noticed a suspicious glob of something mushy and brown on the carpet. Not a big glob...might have been a tiny piece of old banana, were it not for the fact that no one had yet eaten any bananas thus far in the morning. So I cleaned it up and checked on my suspected culprit; sure enough, Soren needed a diaper change. And when I heaved him up to change him, I discovered that there had been a serious lack of containment, leading me to mount a wider search across the floor for additional small brown globs. I could hardly believe my good fortune when only one turned up. Surely, I thought, there had to be more, but I was fairly thorough and could find nothing else on the carpet.

Shortly after completing this task, I discovered that Eleri was wet, so I took her in to be changed as well. She had stealth-pooped, but only a tiny bit. Small potatoes.

A little later, sitting on the yoga ball by the window, I intended to watch the rain outside for a few minutes. Soren came over right after I sat down, wanting to climb up on my lap. But as he approached, I detected a definite poop-like odor in the vicinity. I checked his diaper again, chagrined at the prospect of back-to-back-to-back diaper changes (3 within the last 10 minutes), but he was clean. I checked his back and legs for anything I might have missed cleaning up before. Nothing. I checked Eleri. Nope. And then I noticed the source of the smell. There, on my pants. Poop on my pants. Sigh.

Changed the pants, went on about the afternoon. Eventually changed the kids one more time each and believed myself to hopefully be in the clear for the day. And that's when it happened.

There I was, sitting at the computer desk. The kids were on the floor, playing. Between them sat one of Soren's soccer balls. Suddenly Soren declared, "The ball is pooped, all over!" And ugh, indeed it was. I could see what was smeared, nay caked, across about a quarter of the ball, even from across the room. I'm not sure how I got over to Soren and the ball so fast, but I managed to whisk away the offending object before there had been any sort of dramatic transfer to either carpet or child. (Eleri, mercifully, was spared entirely.) It would seem that, shortly following the containment-fail of Soren's first diaper, before I realized he merited changing, he had sat down on the soccer ball for a moment before continuing on his merry way. Gack.

Anyway. Just another super exciting parenting moment! Aren't you so glad you read my post today? ;) This is the risk you run, I suppose. When we're not up to anything exciting, you might get a super boring summary-of-the-day. Or you might get a poop story.

A couple of other notable items from the day (indeed, the poopstravaganza was not the only excitement around here!) - there was a very brief period this evening during which both children were napping. Eleri had been out for a while, and Soren had been sitting on the couch, fiddling with my ipod. I snagged it from him for just a quick moment to check something, and not 10 seconds later, I looked down to see that he had passed right out. Hehe. Unusual, but not unwelcome.

Also of note, I got myself a pre-trip haircut this evening. The first part of our journey is going to include a family reunion, and given the photo-happy tendencies of my kin, you would be unwise to show up to such a shindig with bad hair unless you're totally happy with your bad hair being captured for eternity from every possible angle in about 100,000 different photographs. I am not thrilled about such a prospect, so I am now sporting a shiny new cut. Huzzah!

All right. That is all. Good night!


Day 174

Day 264

So, we're getting ready to go on a trip, flying cross-country for the first time with both kids. There's rather a lot that goes into planning any sort of moderate-length trip, but when you've got two wee ones in the picture, there's a lot more to consider and deal with. For one thing, you can pretty much forget about trying to pack light. I mean, good grief. Even with one kid it was crazy how much stuff we had to bring whenever we went anywhere, but with two? As my college roommate can attest, I have a general tendency to put off packing until the 11th hour. I've gotten a little better in my "adult" years, but those procrastinatory habits die hard. However, for this trip, Tom & I started putting together lists and making plans at least 4 days in advance of our departure.

As a result, a good chunk of my day on Wednesday was consumed with action items related to trip preparation. Not exactly the stuff of riveting blogging. We did get out of the house in the morning to go strolling at the mall. After our walk, when we went downstairs to let the kids play, Eleri was the most mobile she's been yet, crawling from one side of the play area to the other, usually trying to get (and chew on) peoples' shoes. Silly girl. After the mall, we vacuumed the car and headed home.

Books, chores, list-writing, naps (for at least one of us), more books, snacks, and more chores rounded out our afternoon. When Tom got home, I headed to the store instead of the gym. (My leg muscles were all tight and sore anyway from pushing the stroller up all the hills at the zoo on Tuesday.) Made some vital pre-trip purchases (including some snazzy black dress shoes for Soren to wear with his suit), and then returned home.

I'm getting pretty excited to commence all the visiting of family and friends! But it's also super stressful trying to make sure all our proverbial ducks are in a row beforehand. I know we'll pull it all together in the end - we always do - but hopefully it won't take an all-nighter beforehand of packing. Indeed, I intend to make the most of Soren's preschool time on Friday to get as much done as possible! (You read it here first, folks. Now stay tuned for the follow through.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Day 173

Day 263

I can't believe we've lived here for a year and a half now without getting over to the National Zoo. Well, no more! After Soren's music class at the rec center this morning, we hopped on the metro and made our way into the city.

It may have been a mistake to mention the T-R-A-I-N and the Z-O-O to the lad before we went to his music class. He doesn't seem to be super into it anyway, but with the promise of even more awesome adventures on the horizon, he was declaring himself "Done!" and "Ready to go home!" by about halfway through the class. Sigh. I get the feeling the instructor won't be super sad about the fact that we'll miss the next two classes on account of our vacation.


(He was singing some of the songs from the class, to himself, unprompted, later in the afternoon, so I am sure he's enjoying it at least on some level.)


So after class was over we headed for the zoo. When asked about which animals he wanted to see, Soren answered, "A zebra, a goose, and an ostrich." Hehe. He enjoyed riding the train with his friend A, and the two were reasonably well behaved on our journey. Once at the zoo itself though (which is pretty cool, and FREE), he wasn't super stoked about the animals. He did seem a little bit interested by the gorillas and the pandas, but he mostly just wanted to run around. I think he might have enjoyed the experience more without the stroller, but I also wasn't in the mood to continually chase after him, and he's gotten to the age where the little backpack/leash thing is just plain undignified. Anyhow. It was a pretty good outing, all things considered, and I'd happily go back there again at some point. Preferably with Tom in tow.

And what of the lass? She napped in the pouch, off & on. She spent lots of time smiling at people on the train. I don't know that she was all that interested in the sights at the zoo, but she's incredibly good-natured about being dragged hither and yon. We really lucked out in the mellow babies department.

The excursion took up most of our day. I'm pretty tired. Hope to sleep well tonight. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mulligan Monday

Day 172

Day 262

Some days you'd just like to take a do-over. Reset. Try again. Take another crack at it.

Today (in spite of the title of this post) wasn't really one of those days. More than anything, I just wanted to slog through it and start fresh tomorrow.

Oh, it really wasn't as bad as all that. After all, it was a drop-off preschool morning! But it had been a not great night of sleep, so everyone was feeling less than bright eyed and bushy tailed. Nevertheless, it was rainy and neither too cold nor too warm, and Soren was excited to go hang out with his friends. I keep hearing sad tales from parents who have to drop sobbing children off at preschool. And while I realize that this co-op thing is not the same as a traditional preschool setting, I do love the fact that Soren hardly gives me so much as a second glance when I kiss him goodbye. He's happy to be there, and I'm happy to have some time away from the otherwise near-constant battle of wills we wage daily.

So Eleri & I went off to the library, with the sole purpose of returning some of Soren's books and checking out some more for him (I've got enough on my plate, between the huge brick of a Scarpetta book and a couple of others in the queue). See? I'm a nice mommy, thinking of my willful little lad even as I'm enjoying a break from him. Then we went home and chilled for a bit, even snoozing a little on the couch. Something about the rainy weather makes me even more susceptible to the soporific charms of a warm baby passed out on me. Anyway, before long the time had come to retrieve the boy, so off we went again.

Things kind of went downhill from there. Soren was clearly tired when I arrived to fetch him, but I suspected, correctly, that I had no hope of getting a nap out of him this afternoon. In addition, his little voice was even more froggy than it had been in the morning (at which time I'd just chalked it up to being extra sleepy). So in sum, he was tired, grumpy, and not feeling super great. Huzzah. So we got on each other's nerves a bit more easily than usual, and he was a bit more brittle and whiny than usual, and Eleri decided she couldn't possibly miss out on all this fun by taking an afternoon nap, so she was also tired and whiny. I mean, I'm always happy to see Tom at the end of the day, but on days like these, my relief is even more pronounced.

(Seriously, who's the whiny one here?)

At any rate. I fled the scene, even though I was just plain drained and the very thought of running on the treadmill made me want to collapse. I opted to take my book and ride the stationary bike for 20 minutes instead, which you might say is a cop out, but I would counter that at least I got out of the house and resisted the urge to curl up on the couch instead.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow is a new day! I fear that Soren's frogginess may blossom into a full-fledged late summer cold, but I will cross that bridge in the morning. For now, good night!

When I say "Weekend!" you say "Sweet!"


Day 170

Day 260

Saturday morning was another beautiful day at the barn and a fantastic ride. I love feeling like I'm making progress, even in the absence of some specific, competitive goal. At one point, while I was cantering (well, Chaka was cantering), N pointed out my body position as being a great example of how we're supposed to be riding. This probably sounds silly to the non-horsey amongst you, but it was fairly high praise, particularly given my long absence from horsing and more recent maternity-related hiatus. My skills are coming back, and that makes me feel really good. :)

Oh, what else? Pretty mellow day after I got home. Tom got to have some kid-free time of his own, running some errands, and then after he got back, he & Soren worked on the balcony for a long while on his latest construction project. By which I mean Tom worked and Soren mostly got in the way and said things like, "It's my turn to screw!" Hehe. Awfully cute to watch them out there, together. Eleri would have been right in the middle of it all, too, if she could have. As it was, she tried to do her fair share of clean-up duty, finding any spare wood chips and depositing them directly into her mouth. So helpful.


Day 171

Day 261

Sunday morning was another swim class for the guys. Eleri napped, while I made more progress on the stocking. Chores, more Soccer Wave construction, lots of Eleri crawling around making the ridiculous face seen above. I'm not sure if she just discovered the ability to curl her tongue like that or what, but she kept doing it. Pretty hilarious.

That's really about all I've got for the weekend. No major outings, not a lot of note, just some chill-ed out family time. Some damned good chilled-out family time.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Summer encore

Day 169

Day 259

Ugh. Summer weather decided to come back onstage for one last song. Or three. Friday was the worst, and last, of it though (until next time, of course), so good riddance (for now).

After two preschool days in a row at our place, it was back to the drop-off schedule. Whoo! Buh-bye, buddy, have a nice time. And he did. He was also on really good behavior when it was time to go home, for which I was very grateful. After I dropped him off in the morning, Eleri and I came back home. We hung out, I fed her some solid food slurry, and then she went down for a nap and I got some work done on Soren's Christmas stocking. Yeah you remember the stocking I started making for him, oh, about 10 months ago? Well, after I didn't manage to finish it in time for Christmas, I set it aside, and then I had a baby, and I didn't get around to picking it up again until a couple of weeks ago. But I figure, between preschool a couple of times a week and Soren's weekly swimming lesson, as long as Eleri's morning nap doesn't fall seriously astray from its usual time, I should be able to manage a few hours a week of stocking project progress. We shall see! I'm fairly optimistic I'll be able to complete it before this Christmas. Probably won't get one made for El this year, but hers can be next year's project.

So, yeah, picked the lad up from preschool, and it was just brutally hot. So what did I decide would be great to do? Burn the friggin kitchen down.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration.

When we were out a'grocering on Thursday, I'd picked up a pork tenderloin from Trader Joe's. My intention was to cook it in the crock pot on Friday, so I hunted down a promising-looking recipe online, made a few slight modifications, and got down to business.

Step one - Cut slits in pork and stuff with garlic. (I cut about 5 cloves into halves or thirds, lengthwise, and shoved each piece into a different slit in the meat.)

Step two - Sear tenderloin on the stove.

*Pause. Digress.*

Pan searing is kind of a tricky skill. I have had a difficult time waiting for the pan to get hot enough to properly sear the outside without having to leave the meat in the pan so long that the inside starts to cook. I've been getting better at it, though. And this time, I waited, and waited, and waited. Soren was restrained in his high chair, eating some yogurt, and Eleri was chilling in the bouncer, so there was no danger of any small fries coming into contact with the super hot stove in any way. The pan was scorching. So in the pan went the pork, and it got a beautiful sear, and I transfered the meat to the crock pot, patting myself on the back. And then I decided I should take advantage of the crispy meaty residue in the pan (Boy does that ever sound appetizing. You're welcome, my vegetarian friends.) by deglazing the pan with a bit of butter and wine and making a nice little sauce.

I've deglazed pans plenty of times. Usually I use white wine, and the pan is more than just a few degrees cooler than the surface of the sun. This time, however, I used red wine (the recipe called for some, anyway), and the pan was rather a bit hotter than I normally get it. So I splashed a wee bit of wine in, and it burned off almost instantly. I tossed in a sliver of butter, which bubbled and popped, and before this had a chance to evaporate as well, I poured in some more wine.

The resulting cloud of smoke was enormous. It was a very white smoke, so at first I thought it was just vigorous steam, but it rapidly filled the entire kitchen. I tried for a few more moments to salvage my whole deglazing effort, but there was no hope. (Seriously, after all that, it didn't even deglaze the pan. Just burned more. Huh?) Once I'd gotten both extraction fans in the kitchen turned on, plus an additional giant standing fan blowing out the kitchen door, I was able to continue my dinner prep.

*Digression over.*

Step 3: Smear crushed garlic on the meat, coating both sides. Add 1 cup broth, 3/4 cup red wine, 1 packet onion soup mix, 3 TB soy sauce, some black pepper, some thyme.

Step 4: Set crock pot to Low Heat and cook for 4 hours.

The end result was some very tender pork, but it was really, really quite salty. Probably the broth + onion soup mix + soy sauce combination was a bit of overkill. I think the next time I make this (and I will definitely make it again), I'll substitute actual onion and perhaps some other spices for the onion soup mix, and maybe leave out the soy sauce. Even so, it was pretty tasty!

After Tom got home, he cooked up some Brussels sprouts to go with the pork, and I went to the gym. I tried to combat the whole "my lungs feel like they aren't filling up all the way" thing by breaking up my 20 minutes of cardio into 5 minute chunks, with ab exercises in between. Five minutes on the treadmill, abs, five on the rowing machine, abs, five on the treadmill, abs, five on the rowing machine. I hadn't used the rower in quite some time, and it was tough. Good workout though. I'm really not thrilled with the whole breathing situation, but hopefully if I modify my workout for a couple of weeks it'll get better.

I came back from the gym to find that Eleri had fallen asleep in her bouncer. Tom said she was starting to get restless, but he was just finishing up with the sprouts, and before he was done, she'd just laid her head down and passed right out. Pretty damned cute.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A week at once

Been kind of busy around here, lately! Let's get the latest up and posted in one fell swoop.


Day 162

Day 252

Last Friday was our first time hosting preschool at our place. Actually, it was the first time we'd hosted any sort of playgroup event here. It was pretty amusing to watch every single kid make a beeline for the little hobby horse, the moment they stepped through the front door. The wee ones certainly do like toys they can ride on.

It all went pretty well, and when everyone went home, we headed out to pick up some stuff from the library and grocery store. In the evening, I ran a warmup half mile (5 min), a fast mile (right around 9 min), and a fast half mile (4:25), with exercise sets in between. Tiring!


Day 163

Day 253

I had an excellent ride on Saturday. Chaka and I were really clicking. It was almost that feeling of true partnership you get with a horse of your own, riding and working together nearly every day. (At least as close as I'm likely to get with a school horse I ride once a week, and whom other people ride all the time, anyway.) The weather was gorgeous, there were only 3 of us in the class, so we got a lot of individual attention, and everything just kind of came together to make the morning a lovely one.

Tom made some delicious ribs, and we had our friends Chris & Sarah over for dinner. So there was some cleaning and tidying in the afternoon, and then visiting in the evening. Eleri ate some little pieces of biscuit at dinner and seemed to love them. :)


Day 164

Day 254

Sunday morning Tom & Soren had their second swim class, while Eleri and I chilled & did some laundry. I made a salad, which we took over to A's house, where we had lunch. The boys ran around and played outside after we ate, as it was another beautiful day. The whole weekend, it really started feeling like Fall. So nice!

Tasty homemade pizza for dinner, more chores, more lounging about. Another weekend over too fast.


Day 165

Day 255

Monday we had the preschoolers over again. It was my turn to "teach" (I use the term quite loosely, since the majority of what they do is just moderately organized play.), and our theme was "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." You can read the linked post at the preschool blog for a summary and photos. Half the kids were in attendance, while the other half were home with mild colds, and this was kind of both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, there were only 4 kids to keep track of instead of 8. On the other hand, we kind of breezed through all of the activities I'd planned within the first hour. Oops. So we did some stuff (a couple of the songs) twice and read more books than I'd intended, and overall it turned out all right. I'm glad I've got another month before it's my turn again, and I think I've learned some stuff to keep in mind for next time.

Back to the library yet again afterward (we are becoming quite the frequent patrons these days), where we found some good nonfiction books about trains and planes and fire trucks, all topics of great interest for the little dude. One of the train books is a "New True" book (decent link surprisingly difficult to find), which brings me right back to my own childhood. As obnoxious as it can be to have him bombard me with requests to read the same book for the seventh time in a day, I have to admit, I'm completely stoked that he loves reading/being read to.

Monday running didn't quite go as planned. I was hoping to do exercises, 2 miles, then more exercises, but my first mile was much too fast (warm-up half at 6mph, then half at 7mph). I've run 3/4 of a mile at 7mph before, but only a quarter mile at a time, as part of my interval sets. Monday was the first time I ran a full half mile at that pace, all in one shot, and it was more difficult than I anticipated. So I took a break after a mile, did more exercises, then started up my second mile but was still so winded that I only made it through half a mile before having to quit again. Not very awesome. And I didn't feel just winded, but actually short of breath also, as though I couldn't expand my lungs all the way. So that was a little discouraging, but whatever. Now I know that I'm not quite ready to maintain that faster pace for so long.


Day 166

Day 256

Tuesday morning was Soren's first "Let's Make Music" class at the rec center. He's in it with A (their first rec center class together), and while he seemed to enjoy parts of it, he wasn't totally into it on the first day. About halfway through, he managed to leave the room and start heading down the hall toward the soft play room. When I caught up with him and turned him back around, he told me, "I have to go to my class, Mommy." Apparently he misses "Zoom Around the Room" (and who can blame him, really?). I felt bad, but I think he'll grow to like this one eventually. Eleri, on the other hand, was overjoyed. Not only smiling, but chortling with delight at the various instruments and songs. I'm almost getting a 2-for-1 deal on this class. ;)

Tried to take it easy in the afternoon. I hadn't slept all that well the night before, so I was pretty tired. More reading, some balcony trike riding, a brief nap on the couch (for me) with Eleri while Soren played nearby.


Day 167

Day 257

Wednesday we had playgroup in the morning. Soren maybe came to check on El & me twice, but he was pretty much off and running with his pals. I'm glad he has fun and can be social and stuff.

I thought about running errands on the way home, but I was hungry, and Soren was hungry, and Eleri's two attempts at a morning nap had both been severely abridged, so we just went home. I intended to go out again later, but it was rather a bit warmer than it had been, and once Eleri passed out for an afternoon nap, she was down for almost 2 hours. So we bailed on errands and did stuff around the house instead.

My shortness of breath issues from Monday made an unfortunate reappearance for my Wednesday 5k, so I pushed it as long as I could but eventually had to admit defeat after 20 minutes and a bit over 2 miles. Frustrating! I'm not sure what the deal is. Can't blame air quality, since I'm running indoors on a treadmill. I don't think I'm coming down with a cold. Obviously it's not a terribly severe situation, since I was still able to run for a full 20 minutes, with a couple of quarter-kilometer stretches at 7mph (not as much as a quarter-mile, of course, but still an increase in speed). Anyway. I don't really expect anyone else to find this especially interesting; this is more for my own record keeping than anything else. We'll see how Friday goes.

In other news, "Chuck" is back! Yeah, it airs on Mondays, but we finally got around to watching it Wednesday evening. So entertaining. Right up there on my list of favorite shows on television these days.


Day 168

Day 258

Rounding out our massive catch-up post, we have a rather boring Thursday. It was another hot day (seriously, Fall, why must you tease?), and we had no activities on the agenda, so we set out as early as we could manage in order to beat the worst of the heat and get some errands done. I've been making a concerted effort to keep the car more presentable, so I have been therefore taking advantage of the free vacuum availability at the nearby Mr. Car Wash (Monday through Thursday only!). After vacuuming the car, we found a locksmith who was actually able to copy our weirdly-sized house keys. It was actually a company specializing in door installation, but I guess they do some locksmithing as well. Anyway. They have a bunch of sample doors and door-related hardware set up in their lobby, so Soren had a grand old time playing with dead bolts and mail slots and door handles while we waited for our keys.

Grocering thereafter. Then home. It was, unfortunately, too warm to be outside, so we were stuck indoors for the afternoon. Books were read, games were played, more books were read, and finally it was dinnertime.

And now we're caught up! Sorry for the week-long blog silence, followed by a barrage of mediocrity, but I shall try to find more interesting things to write about again soon. And, you know, the videos I keep promising. Those too.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

On an island in the sun

Day 161

Day 251

This morning we met some playgroup folks over at Theodore Roosevelt Island, which is smack in the middle of the Potomac River. (Technically, we met them in the parking lot just off George Washington Memorial Parkway, as the island is only accessible by a footbridge.) I've been wanting to check out the island for a while, so I was pleased to have the opportunity. It was really beautiful, and quiet, and green. There are wide dirt paths, set well back from the river banks (and with a lot of underbrush in between), so we let the kids out of the strollers to run free for a while. First we made our way over to the bathrooms, or as I like to call them, the Daddy Longlegs Sanctuary. Holy effing shweddy balls, people. I have never seen the like. Literal clusters of spiders on the walls. It was a damned good thing I didn't have to pee, because I'm not sure I could have mustered the nerve to go inside, as it would have required walking underneath the spindly-legged garland above the door. I'm itchy now just at the memory of observing them from a good three to five feet away; I would no doubt be feeling phantom arachnids in my hair for a week if I'd had to risk walking where one might actually have dropped on me.

(Sorry for that, Mom. Just be glad it was me and not you.)

After our detour to Spiderville, we walked back to the Teddy Roosevelt Monument, passing along the way a variety of (two- and four-legged) critters - several squirrels, an assortment of small birds, and even a deer! At the monument, we settled on some benches and ate lunch, and then the kids ran and played some more. There were three other kids right around Soren's age, and a girl a couple of years older. It was kind of funny to watch her try to get them to play hide-and-seek. The 2 year-olds had absolutely no concept of the game. She'd start counting and tell them to go hide, but they would instead walk over to where she was counting or just wander off at random. She was getting so frustrated. I felt bad for her, but it was also hilarious. The difference between 2 and 4 is pretty big.

There's a whole big trail that goes all the way around the island, but we didn't do any more walking after lunch. (Half the moms in our group were pregnant, and I think they'd about hit their walking limit for the day.) I was content to head on back though, too. Soren was starting to get a little overdone, between the steadily warming day and all the running around, and though he didn't stay asleep once we got home, he did doze off in the car on the way.

Tomorrow we're hosting the preschool group at our apartment. It's not my turn to "teach," so Eleri and I may duck out for a bit so as not to be in the way. In any event, it should be interesting!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mall day 5k

Day 160

Day 250

Mall walking in the morning. Soren, hilariously, insisted on putting the above hat on before we left home. He wore it the whole time we were at the mall and most of the time we were at BJ's afterward. He's such a goof.

Usually when we go walking at the mall, I set the lad up with a snack cup full of cereal, which he happily munches for the whole 45 minutes. This time, I hadn't brought a cup, so I just had his cereal in a bag, but he'd asked to bring along a couple of his little trucks. So I let him hold the trucks and figured, eh, the cereal's in the bottom of the stroller as a last resort, if and when he gets bored. I was very surprised that the toys occupied Soren the whole time we were walking! I guess I just didn't expect them to hold his attention for that long. Go figure.

This afternoon, Eleri continued to improve upon her unassisted standing skills. On at least a couple of occasions, she balanced on her own for a good 15 or 20 seconds! I'm super impressed. I also bought her some little cereal puffs so she can start practicing her finger food skills. It's kind of hilarious to watch her, first stretching out an index finger, touching it to the puff, then drawing it back toward her waiting thumb and palm in a sort of upside down beckoning motion. Soren, of course, has remembered his extreme fondness for the little sweet potato-flavored stars, so it's a little difficult to set them out for Eleri without him wanting to steal them all away for himself. Frequently he'll go to grab one, be caught in the act, and then take it over to El with a cheerful, "He-grow!" (Here you go), as if that's exactly what he meant to do all along. (Lest you think I am a mean and evil temptress, allow me to point out that I do give him some puffs of his own, but they are rather more expensive than his cereal, and he would easily down the whole canister of them in an afternoon, given the opportunity, so I try to limit his portion size.)

In the evening, I set out again to run 5k on the treadmill. And again I ran it faster than the time before - 28:57 tonight, which is almost a full minute faster than my very first 5k a couple of months ago. Not bad! Now to decide whether I try to continue increasing my speed, or if I start increasing my distance. I kind of loathe the thought of running longer, but I don't know whether speed trumps distance or vice versa, as far as quality of workout is concerned. I know that my shin splints have seemed to get worse with more sprinting, but that was before I was being more disciplined about thoroughly stretching my calf muscles before and after my runs. Thoughts from the runners amongst you?

Tomorrow's playgroup excursion is going to be a trip to Theodore Roosevelt Island, which is supposed to be very cool. I'm pretty excited. And yes, I will obviously be bringing my camera. ;)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book Review: Little Green Men, by Christopher Buckley

John Banion is a well-known, well-regarded TV pundit. He's like - who's the moderator of Meet the Press? David Gregory? - he's like David Gregory, only more widely known. He's like Bill O'Reilly, only less of a right wing wacko. Like Chris Matthews, with less caffeine? Anyway, you get the picture.

John Banion is Mister D.C., hob-nobbing with all the important political figures and rich WASP-y denizens of the District, inviting the President himself over for Saturday dinner (even after he held the man's feet to the fire the week before on his TV show). In short, he's enormously rich, enormously well-regarded among his cohort, enormously successful.

And then he gets abducted (and probed) by aliens. Twice.

Okay, so he doesn't really get abducted by aliens, but he certainly believes that he does. As do all abductees. In fact, the Majestic 12 program - long believed to be "a secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials, supposedly formed in 1947 by an executive order of President Truman to investigate UFO activity in the aftermath of the Roswell incident, and an important part of the UFO conspiracy theory of an ongoing government cover up of UFO information" (thank you Wikipedia) - is actually a small group of people within the government who are responsible for perpetuating the myth that the United States has not only been repeatedly visited by UFOs but is also in possession of UFO technology, which it could potentially employ against the Soviet Union (or other aggressors) if it so chooses. (Did you get all that?) Nathan Scrubbs, Majestic 12 underling in charge of operating the computer that runs the abduction algorithm for determining which overweight, overwrought farmer's wife should be abducted next, decides he's had enough of his life of obscurity and fudges some computer results such that Banion is chosen for a CE-IV (Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind). Two abductions later, Banion becomes a very vocal spokesman for the phenomenon of alien abduction, and all manner of mayhem ensues.

The concept was amusing. Some of the writing was pretty funny. Buckley sure has a thing for middle-aged dudes and hot/younger women who are drawn to them for reasons unknown, if I may be so bold as to draw a pattern from just reading 2 of his books. I still kind of felt like I was reading Hiaasen transplanted out of the Everglades, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the two have a very similar style, I think. Overall, not the most hilarious thing I've ever read, but entertaining enough.

Park, trike, books, beets

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To the park this morning with A and his mom. Eleri was singing her "I'm about to fall asleep" song in the car, so I put her in the pouch (set up like a backpack) when we got to the park, fully expecting that she would, indeed, fall asleep in relatively short order. But though she was quiet for a good long while, watching all the goings-on, it wasn't until a couple of hours (and a snack) later that she finally passed out. Go figure. Soren was very excited when a couple of pickup trucks drove down across the grass to the playground so some maintenance guys could do some work. The fact that he actually listened to me when I warned him against bolting straight out into their path was nothing short of a friggin miracle.

At one point, Soren and A both wanted to swing, but there was only one unoccupied swing. It was one of the bucket kind, and even though the boys are really just about too big for it, I thought they could probably share the swing, sitting back to back. They barely fit. It was one of those situations where it's a good thing they're as young as they are because it could have been really painful were they a bit older (read: owmyballz). Eleri, for her part, thought it was the most hilarious thing she'd ever seen. She laughed and laughed and laughed at the sight of the two boys crammed into one swing. That, in itself, was pretty damned funny.

The afternoon was a blah-ish mix of me reading books with Soren (good!), Soren riding his trike on the balcony (good!), Soren misbehaving on the balcony (bad!), Soren misbehaving in the house (bad!), Eleri yelling (ow, my ears!), Soren getting time-outs and crying about it (substantially less than awesome!), and more reading books with Soren (good again!).

One of the side dishes I prepared with dinner was sliced beets sauteed in butter and balsamic vinegar, with a wee bit of sea salt sprinkled over the top. It was super tasty.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday! Title! Yeah!

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Okay, so remember all that napping Eleri did yesterday, atop her many hours of night time sleep? Apparently it was too much. Sunday night, she was awake for at least a couple of hours from about 3 to 5. Not fussing, not feverish or uncomfortable or sad. Just awake. Chipper, even. Babbling away at me, rejecting all but the very last of my (many) attempts to nurse her back to sleep. It was not the greatest.

You know what was the greatest though? Another drop-off day of preschool! When I went to tell Soren I was leaving, he was momentarily concerned, until he realized that I wasn't going to make him leave with me. It was more like, "But we just got here! I don't wanna...oh, I can stay? Okay bye, see ya." According to the "on duty" moms, he asked about me a few times but was satisfied when they told him I was running errands and would return later. They also got a kick out of the fact that he, apparently, said several times, "I love Mommy! She can drive the car. I love cars. I love Mommy." Hehehe. Such a funny lad.

Eleri and I hit up the library again and then chilled out in the car for a while, in the shade, with the windows down and the lovely breezes blowing. It was quite relaxing.

And of course, when I did return, Soren was very much not thrilled about having to leave his friends, which I realize is a good thing, but man is it annoying. ;) I could do without the tantrums when it's time to go.

Ran some errands, then went home. Hung out for a bit, then went back out for more errands. In the evening, since it was so pleasant out, I did my running outside - 2 miles in 20:19, which is of course not as fast as I can go on the treadmill, but better than I expected to do, what with the changes in elevation and such. I used the Nike+ shoe pod thing to keep track of my speed and distance, so it's possible it wasn't exactly 2 miles, but I'm going to bet it was pretty close. Anyway. We'll see how my legs feel tomorrow, but yay!

Toddler triathalon


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After our late night on Friday, we were fortunate to have both kids sleep until almost 9:00. (Tom, too.) Eleri was only up twice, and not until after sunrise, so I felt pretty well rested when I woke up with her the second time (at 7:30) and stayed awake thereafter.

Saturday was another beautiful riding weather day. I had a good lesson, and the afternoon thereafter was suitably lazy. While Tom went running at the gym before dinner, I took the kids outside so Soren could practice riding his tricycle in the parking lot. We were probably only outside for 20 or 30 minutes, but it was enough time for me to recognize that Tom is likely going to have to be the one to teach Soren to drive. I just about lost my ever-loving mind having to keep telling him to stop taking his hand off the handlebars to point at things! He's also not a big fan of using the pedals (I think he possibly doesn't understand the mechanics of pedaling, with the necessary alternating of pressure from one side to the other), and trying to get him to stay in his "lane" (the little jogging path in the parking lot) was difficult as well. It sounds silly, two days later, but it was incredibly frustrating at the time. It wouldn't have been such a big deal if I weren't stressed out about him veering into traffic. (Just parking lot traffic, but traffic nonetheless.)

Getting impatient with Soren (or Eleri) over petty annoyances gives me that rotten parent feeling, which I know isn't really justified, but it's hard to wave off anyway. Yippee.

Eleri's photo from Saturday is just a tiny illustration of her recent experimentation with Drama Queendom. Something doesn't go her way, and she just turns on the waterworks. Sure is tough being a baby. ;)


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Day 247

Everybody slept great again on Saturday night. Eleri got a stretch of 7 hours, followed by about 3.5 more! It was easily the most soundly she's slept since the fun of teething began. Pretty great.

Sunday morning, Soren had his first swimming lesson. Tom took him, and since El was still asleep for the first 40 minutes they were gone, it was a wonderfully quiet morning for me. I managed to get the zoo prints hung in Soren's room (though not before the little miss woke up to "help" me). They look great!

The rest of Sunday is kind of a blur for me. I think the week's crummy sleep finally caught up with me, and I just had a heck of a time staying awake all afternoon. Which is to say, I failed miserably at staying awake all afternoon. There was much napping on the couch that occurred, and Eleri also slept a bunch, even after her epic 10.5 hours the night before (uh oh, foreshadowing!). Ergo, I don't really have any amusing stories from Sunday, aside from the fact that Soren seemed to enjoy his swimming lesson, which, when combined with the previous day's trike-riding and the standard amount of running around he normally does, inspired the title of this post. Har har.

Okay, one more amusing thing, though not exclusively from Sunday. Eleri has been doing a lot of free-standing these past few days. Even without something in front of her to pull up on, she manages to get herself up on her feet and waver there for a few seconds before plopping down again. It's tres cute, and fairly impressive. (She's got Soren beat by a week or two on this skill, according to his baby pictures.) She's a strong little gal!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A very full Friday

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Friday morning was Soren's first "drop off" day at preschool. All summer long, we've been getting the kids together a couple of times a week, getting them used to some of the routines of preschool, helping them become accustomed to one another and to all the moms. Now that fall is here, we're alternating hosting and "teaching" duties, which means that we only have to stay for "class" once or twice a month. The rest of the time, we get to drop the kids off and come back 3 hours later to fetch them! Pretty sweet.

Soren wasn't even a little concerned when I left, which is great. We'd been having kind of a difficult morning up to that point, more or less butting heads over every little thing. I even tried reverse psychology on him, to no avail. Usually, when I change his diaper, we play a silly little game, where I say, "Piernas arriba!" (legs up), and he puts his feet in the air and jokingly says, "Abajo!" (down). That morning, though, he was defiantly refusing to put his legs up so I could get the new diaper on him, and the playful "Abajo" was turning into a very contrary "Abajo." So I tried to trip him up by switching to "Abajo," hoping he would say "Arriba!" and we could get on with the business at hand. But no. Instead he just looked at me all smugly and said, "Yes. Abajo." (That story seems a lot more stupid all typed out like that. Oh well.) Anyway, our morning was continuing along in that sort of vein.

So off we went to preschool. I dropped him off and was freeeee! Eleri and I went to Panera for a bagel and frozen lemonade (I'm a sucker for frozen lemonade). It occurred to me that the last time I'd been to that Panera, I was just nearing the end of my first trimester of pregnancy with Eleri, which would have been right around a year ago. Crazy.

After a leisurely breakfast, we went to the library. Eleri fell asleep in the pouch not long after we arrived, so I got to browse the stacks for a good hour or so, enjoying the quiet. It was lovely. Soren seemed to have a great time while I was gone. Unfortunately, he also didn't want to leave, and we resumed the morning's activity of arguing for the sake of arguing. Yay. Before too long, though, it was time to make our way into the city.

ML was in town, so we were meeting her at Max & Agnes's for dinner. Alice drove down too, to join us. We ordered a ton of (really tasty) Chinese food and made (delicious) lava cakes. It's pretty great to be able to get together with some of our Pasadena friends as often as we do, and very amusing to me that so many of us migrated out here to the DC area.

After much visiting, we made our way home. Both kids passed out in the car (no surprise) but Soren managed to stay asleep through the whole car-to-bed transfer (big surprise!). He was one tired dude. ;)

More exploration of local attractions

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Thursday we checked out the Hidden Oaks Nature Center, which is not far away from us in Annandale. They have some neat animal exhibits indoors and a fabulous outdoor wooded play area, where kids can dig and build with the available shovels and other tools. There's a little "water feature" in the play area; Soren ran over and asked, "Is it the ocean?" Before I could stop him, he jumped in the (inch-deep) water, said, "It's the ocean!" and sat down. Hehe. I was glad we'd recently set up that bin of spare clothes in the car. We'll definitely have to go back to that nature center again.

In the afternoon we took advantage of the beautiful weather to trek over to the on-site playground for the first time in many weeks. (There's not much in the way of shade over there, so it's not the most attractive option on the hottest summer days.) Soren played, Eleri crawled around on the grass, and I read a page or two in my book and took some pictures. A lovely way to spend the afternoon.

The intolerable cuteness of toddlers in suits

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Wednesday we had playgroup in the morning. At one point, Eleri was playing on the floor, and she picked up a ball, and said, "Ba!" One of the other moms there was ready to declare that El had in fact said "ball" but I have noticed that her general "I want that!" rallying cry tends to be something like "A-babababa." Whether she's chasing after Leo or Soren or some desired toy, she's likely to be "bababa"ing all the while. So I don't know. Maybe she was trying to say "ball" or maybe she was just babbling. Either way, she had a good time playing while Soren ran with his toddler crew.

We're going to my cousin's wedding next month, and I found a very reasonably priced Soren-sized 5 piece suit online. So I ordered it, and it arrived Wednesday afternoon. Soren was very excited to try it on, declaring, "It's my work clothes!" Hehe. And oh my goodness is it cute. The pants are a little big, but maybe I can see about finding him some tiny suspenders.

In the evening I ran another 5k, and fast. I beat my personal record by 30 seconds! (New PR - 29:14) Like last time, I kind of took it easy on the first and third kilometers and did intervals the rest of the time. I was very, very tired afterward.

And Eleri turned 8 months old! Here are some comparison photos of her & Soren.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

"We're going to the lie-bray!"

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Tuesday was a double-library day. In the morning we had playgroup in the meeting room of one library (which ended up being kind of far away from home, as it turned out). It was, as should be obvious from my previous sentence, one to which we hadn't gone before, and when we arrived (late), the door to the meeting room was standing wide open. I was getting ready to stake out a place that would allow me to intercept Soren's inevitable flights toward freedom, when one of the other moms said, "It's okay, you can go ahead and close that door. I think everyone else is probably here, and we all know he won't stay in the room for you with it open." Sigh. Sad but true. But at least, indeed, he was appropriately contained, and he did seem to have a great time. Eleri sat amid a giant pile of Lego-type blocks (the giant, non-choking-hazard ones), happy as a clam, while everyone admired her tiny vertical ponytail.

After playgroup was over, we made our way back across town to "our" library to return books and check out new ones. Soren's been really enamored of this "Mister Small" series by Lois Lenski, so we checked out a few more of those. I'd hoped to grab one or two books for myself, but Soren was being really loud, and my repeated attempts to shush him resulted in a screaming meltdown (on his part, not mine, though only barely). Greeeaaat. I ended up having to drag him toward the exit to check out, as he cried and yelled, "I wanna go home!" for all the patrons (and probably a few people outside) to hear. Boy do I love being the mom with that kid. To be fair, it's an extremely rare occurrence for me; Soren is, the vast majority of the time, remarkably well behaved in public. Anyway. I took a quick glance at the New Releases (located up near the check-out counter) and snagged a book for myself. Love in a Time of Homeschooling. I started it last night, and it's quite interesting so far.

Reasonably mellow afternoon, given the theatrics at the library. Soren was thrilled to read his three new Mister Small books, several times each. I do love that he loves books, and I hope Eleri finds them similarly engrossing.

One more month til Soren's 2 1/2. My, how the time doth fly.