Sunday, June 26, 2011

30DOB #14

Day 14: Write about 5 favorite quotes.

I am going to try really, really hard to limit this to quotes that are not from movies/TV shows/songs. But no promises, since the collection of such quotes is not really my thing.

“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.” -- A. A. Milne
My best friend, FarmerMegan, is (or used to be) a fan of writing down quotes that strike her fancy and posting them on a bulletin board or the fridge or some place like that. When we lived together for a year in college - the first real apartment for either of us - she quickly became familiar with my, oh how to put this, tendency toward untidiness. I was a slob. I remain, in some arenas of my life *cough*the car*cough* a slob. I'm a lot better than I was, though.

Anyway, Megan wrote this A. A. Milne quote on an index card one day, carefully cut it out, and handed it to me. I believe this was within the first couple of months we lived together. And I have cherished it ever since. It's the most positive spin on slovenliness I have ever seen, and it makes me smile every time I read it.

After ecstasy, the laundry. -- Zen saying
You know those page-a-day calendars with jokes or quotes or trivia questions on them? Well, one year in my (very) early 20s, I had one that was "The Little Zen Calendar." At the time, when I first came upon this quote, I thought it was oh so hilarious because - tee hee hee - ecstasy = SEX(!) and after ecstasy you have to do laundry because, you know, the sheets are all messy. From the SEX. I got a big kick out of imagining some quiet, reserved monk saying all matter-of-factly, "Yes, one must expect to attend to the task of laundry after there has been some sweet, sweet lovin' going on."

Of course, now (2 kids and almost 10 years later) I look at this quote and think, "Gah, so true. You could have the best freaking day of your life, attain incredible heights of happiness and personal satisfaction, and there will still always be more goddamned laundry to do." ;)

A skunk offends only his enemies. Among his own kind he does not reek! -- The ghost of Mack's mum, embodied in a skunk, in the movie "A Scottish Tale"

See? Movie quote. Couldn't even get through three without breaking my own (not especially rigid) rule.

Anyway, A Scottish Tale is a very hokey low-budget (more like no-budget) indie flick that Megan and I rented that year we lived together. It's incredibly silly and has some clever moments. But this particular line has always stuck with me. I've always taken it to mean, "Who cares if someone thinks you're weird? They don't matter. The people who matter will love you despite (or even because of) your weirdness." And that's a good thing to remember when one is a socially awkward individual with a tendency to frequently embarrass herself.

"There are 10 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't." -- Unknown

This is just nerdy and silly and only works as a written statement, as '10' is how you write '2' in binary. So...yeah, I'm a dork.

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate." -- Also unknown, but on one of my t-shirts

More nerdery. This one is obviously a play on "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem," which is (I guess) one of those motivational type things you hear in business meetings. I like the chem nerd version better, even if it is more of a joke than a quote.

Man, that turned out to be tougher than I expected. And I didn't expect it to be all that simple, since (as I mentioned before) I am no fond collector of quotes. But it's done and I shall post it and move on to the next. ;)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thirty

Happy birthday to meeeeee...

I've been referring to myself as "almost 30" for months now, which was, you know, accurate. But now my twenties have officially drawn to a close. What a decade it has been.

20 - This was a big year! It was the Summer of LlamaJaw. (I was going to link to the old entries from my original blog, but DEAR GOD the emo barely-no-longer-a-teenager dramatic sappy-ass writing...I cannot bear it.) That Fall, I moved out of the dorms and into my first apartment. And then in the Spring, Tom and I re-met. In less than a year I went from moping over a boy I hadn't even kissed to beginning a relationship with the man I would eventually marry.

21 - Shortly before my birthday, I started my first summer internship with the Naval Air Warfare Center in the Mojave Desert. This internship afforded me the opportunity for many weekend visits with Tom, which eventually resulted in us deciding to become a couple. Weeks later (literally) I began my study abroad year in friggin England. Studying at the University of Nottingham was a great experience, and as painful as it was at the time to be 21 and desperately newly in love and half a world away, it was all worth it. The school year ended, and I somehow managed to score a second summer internship back with the Navy.

22 - Again, my birthday came shortly after my arrival in the desert. I feel a little bad in retrospect, taking their money and making them think I had any interest in working for them long-term, when all I was really after was a paid excuse to be within driving distance of Tom again for the summer. But it was, like my year abroad, an ultimately enriching experience, and I'm grateful for it. Summer ended and it was back to Oregon State for one more year. I adopted Leo on Halloween day. Tom came to visit me at Christmas time and was stranded for an extra day due to a crazy ice storm. We managed weekend visits throughout the year every month or so. By summertime, I was more than ready to graduate and move to California to live with the lad full time.

23 - I believe I got to Pasadena (if I'm recalling correctly) the day before my 23rd birthday. I landed my first real job within a month, I started this blog, and Tom & I got our own apartment that winter (we'd been living with another couple up to that point). It was a tiny-ass, poorly insulated apartment, but it was ours.

24 - I started grad school a couple of months after my birthday. In September, we decided to get married the following Spring. And we did! Shortly after the wedding, I set up my Flickr account. Yep, I've now got 5+ years' worth of photos stored online.

25 - More grad school, including four straight months of commuting to San Diego once a week for lab classes. I fell on my face while jogging. Tom & I learned how to scuba dive and went on our honeymoon trip to Mexico. Then in the Spring, I quit my job and started working in the vitamin mines instead.

26 - This was another big year. A couple of months after my birthday, I found out I was pregnant with Soren! So I spent the year trying to finally wrap up my Master's thesis and incubating a baby. We moved out of the tiny apartment and into a slightly bigger, somewhat nicer one. We took a trip to San Francisco, where I lugged my 7.5 months pregnant butt up & down the hills. And then Soren arrived, and our lives changed forever. ;)

27 - Maternity leave ended and I returned to work, this time on the night shift. It was hellish, but I made it (and finally managed to finish my thesis and get my Master's degree in the process). Six months of sleep deprivation later, I was able to quit working for good and start preparing for our big cross-country move. Soren, Leo & I headed to Virginia while Tom finished up his PhD. Bought a car, found and moved into an apartment (aww, look how little Soren was), and immediately got pregnant with Eleri. Hehe.

28 - Another year mostly spent growing a person. Soren & I joined a playgroup, made some friends, and started getting to know the area around our new home. We also went back to Oregon for my 10 year high school reunion. Eleri was, of course, born at home in January. We had a BUNCH of snow that winter. Springtime brought our first mini-vacation as a 4-person family.

29 - This year brought Eleri's first trip to the west coast, and our first trip to New York. We got Soren potty trained and Eleri weaned. I'm trying to come up with something about myself for this year, but my life is quite a bit defined by the kids and their accomplishments these days. And that's okay. :)

And there you have it. In the past 10 years I've gone from a college junior wondering if she'd ever have a boyfriend to a married mother of two. I've traveled across the Atlantic and back (quite a few times), landed and quit two jobs, obtained both a Bachelor's and a Master's degree, and sprouted an ever increasing number of gray hairs.

I have to admit, I'm pretty excited to see what the next 10 years will bring.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I know

I know! It's been, like, nearly two weeks since I posted last. And that was just a bunch of pictures. I'm long, looooong overdue for an update here.

Buckle up. This is probably going to be a long(ish) one.

So, Mom was here. She got in on a muggy Thursday afternoon, and the kids & I went to the airport to pick her up. Soren is ever a fan of taking a trip to the airport. He was excited to see Grandma, and the two of them were playing games before we even got to the car. (Eleri had been sleeping when we first arrived and was still a little out of it, so she was smiley but not too sure what was going on.)

I had scheduled myself a haircut appointment for the next afternoon, taking full advantage of the free babysitting available when grandparents are in town. I'd long since made up my mind that I would be chopping my hair quite short again for the summer, and when I voiced this intention to the hairdresser, she responded with a worried-sounding, "Okaaaay..." I said something like, "What, you don't think I can pull off a pixie cut?" Apparently she was afraid I was just being impulsive and that I'd hate the haircut afterward. Hehe. I assured her that I had given it a lot of thought, but it wasn't until I confirmed that I had indeed cut it that short in the past that she relaxed about it.


I think it came out pretty great!

But holy COW are my gray hairs a lot more visible now. I guess I expected as much, but man. Not quite 30 and I'm fully sporting the salt-and-pepper look. Ah well. I don't care enough to dye it, so salt-and-pepper it shall be!

(Kind of tempting though to see what would happen if I dyed it, like, electric blue without bleaching first. Would the dye kind of add just a slight blue tint to the dark hairs and then be all shockingly blue on the grays? Might be worth an experiment.)

Enough about my hair.

Saturday morning, Mom got to come out to the barn with me. My regular instructor was on vacation, but I got to ride her horse, Vanya, again. So that was neat. I had a good lesson (the substitute instructor did a good job) and Mom got to have a bit of a horse fix. That evening, Tom & I got to go out to dinner by ourselves! Huzzah again for Grandma babysitting. We went to the Dogfish Head Alehouse and split a super delicious burger and "steak bomb" sandwich. And then the Belmont Stakes came on TV, so we sat together on one side of the booth to watch it, probably looking like super sappy dorks, but whatever. ;) There were an almost surprising number of small children in the restaurant when we arrived. I say almost because it was pretty early, and weirdly, brewery-type restaurants are actually quite family friendly. Anyway, the kids had a great time without us, we had a great time without them.

Sunday...boy, I don't remember anything of note about Sunday. There was probably some soccer to watch. I'm sure we did some chores. Might have cooked something tasty. Definitely took further advantage of GrandmaTime to do some lounging on the couch.

Monday we went to Lake Accotink Park with some of our playschool peeps. Eleri was incredibly cute when a big flock of geese and goslings came our way; after they determined we had nothing to feed them and started to retreat, Eleri toddled after them, waving and saying, "Hi guys! Hi guys!" Sofreakingcute. Everyone enjoyed playing in the slightly scuzzy water of the lake, and Soren and my mom amassed quite the collection of lakeside treasures - sticks, leaves, rocks and such.

Tuesday was Soren's last "Top Chef" class. Eleri was NOT feeling like sitting still that day, so it was extra convenient that Mom was there to hang with Soren in his class while the girlo and I took some walks around the rec center.

Wednesday we went over to National Harbor for lunch and to check out the Peeps Store. It was a hot afternoon, so we didn't linger too long, but we did see the creepy giant bearded man sculpture and an absurdly fancy pet accessory store with little doggy dresses and patent leather-looking booties in the window display.


I mean, really. What?

Thursday we met up with A and his mom at one of the local nature centers. Aside from being eaten alive by mosquitoes, we had a good time. A told his mom later, "I really, really like Soren's grandma!" I guess Mom made a good impression. ;)

Friday was our playschool field trip to the National Capital Trolley Museum. It was a good little outing! Soren was bummed we only got to ride the trolley once - technically our admission ticket allowed us unlimited rides, but a very tired and grumpy Eleri screamed through the entire second half of the trip, so we pretty much had to head home after that - but he seemed to enjoy listening to storytime and playing with the model trolleyway and making a little paper trolley to take home. It's a bit of a trek, but I wouldn't mind taking him back there again sometime. Maybe when Eleri's just a tad older and more likely to enjoy herself. Heh.

Friday night there was a pretty decent rainstorm, and Tom & I got to go out for a second dinner sans kids. We went to Bonefish Grill, which was really good. It was quite crowded when we got there, and we were told we'd have a 30-40 minute wait for a table. I looked around at the packed waiting area and asked Tom if he wanted to wait outside. He gave me a well-deserved look of bewilderment and said, "Uh, no, let's sit at the bar." Oh yeah! I'd completely neglected to even register that as an option. Heh. As it turned out, it was a full-service bar, so we got to eat our (super tasty) dinner almost right away after all. (In case you were wondering: wagyu beef dumplings for a starter, grilled rainbow trout with mango salsa for Tom, stuffed tilapia for me.) Another fine evening out. We seriously have to find ourselves a babysitter and go do stuff like that more often.

Saturday was Mom's last day here. Kind of on a whim, we asked Soren if he would like to accompany us to the barn for my riding lesson. He was so adorably excited about coming along. As we were getting into the car, he kept saying, "I'm so happy! I really really wanted to come with you guys. I'm so exciting to go see the ponies with you!" (Yes, he is always "exciting" about stuff. It's too cute to correct.) I had a pretty good ride on Andy, the goofy Thoroughbred I've ridden once before, and after my lesson, N asked Soren if he would like to have a ride on her mare, Freedom. Soren was over the moon excited and spent the whole (bareback, very short) pony ride with a huge smile on his face.


You can tell he hates it.

In the afternoon, it was time to take Mom back to the airport. I'm glad she was able to visit, and extra glad that the hot weather mostly took a break while she was here.

Other fun happenings of the past week. Hmm, let's see. Well, the very next day, Sunday, was of course Father's Day. Tom had a ticket to go see the Gold Cup Quarterfinal soccer game between the U.S. and Jamaica, which was being played right here in D.C. So that was cool. We all went and rode the metro a few stops with him, in part because any excuse for a train ride is a good excuse in Soren's book, and also because I was really curious to see if it was possible to ride the metro for free. WMATA makes you swipe your fare card both upon entering and exiting stations, so the amount deducted is determined by how far you travel. I wondered what would happen if we, say, rode the metro 3 stops to the airport, stayed there on the platform, and rode back. This would mean that we'd be exiting from our station of origin, which could potentially result in a free ride. (Not that this information would be useful at all for someone actually trying to use metro for transit purposes, but I'm always on the lookout for free or cheap toddler entertainment.) In the end, though, $1.60 was taken off my card; while that's not exactly free, it is (I think) just about the cost of a one-way ride to the airport, so that's still some pretty cheap entertainment.

Monday I had the playschoolers over here for the last time. We're done after next week, and I've got to say, though this has been a neat and fun thing (low-key homeschooling with some really interesting field trips thrown in there), I'm glad it's drawing to a close. I know it's largely due to my tendency to procrastinate, but coming up with activities to fill 3 hours once a month was strangely stressful. Plus, Eleri is now at the age where I can't just stick her in a playpen or wear her on my back the whole time. She wants to be down on the ground and involved, which is fine, except when the 3 year-olds are, say, coloring with markers. Or doing a craft that involves painting with marbles. Or glue. So while we did have fun with our transportation-themed lesson (tying in to the trolley museum trip), and though we have ultimately had fun all year, I'm glad my playschooling responsibilities are over for now. (No telling yet whether I'll try to find another group with whom to do something similar in a year or so, when it's Eleri's turn. We'll see.)

Tuesday we started a new class at the rec center. It's Zoom Around the Room again! A's in it with us this time, so Soren's pretty happy about that. It's good to have some dedicated weekly indoor run-around-like-a-maniac time, with the hot weather coming.

Wednesday we had mall walk and then ran some errands. Whee! Today we invited A and his mom over to swim in our pool with us. It was our first time getting down there this year, and my fears about the water temperature were fortunately allayed. 'Twas a balmy 83 degrees, just right for 45 minutes of splashing about. Eleri toppled in the water a couple of times, and even though she was wearing her little floaty swimsuit, she was still nonplussed. So she clung to me, not entirely unhappily, and eventually almost fell asleep. Hehe. Soren and A had a grand time floating about and playing with the kickboards and pool noodles. I got Soren a floaty vest thing - there was basically no way for me to monitor two non-swimmers by myself, otherwise - and it worked for him like a charm. We will definitely have to take advantage of our pool many times this summer.

Holy crap, I'm caught up. I can't believe it. Of course, I still have a ton of stuff to say about how cute Eleri is getting with her ever-expanding vocabulary, and there are many more photos I need to post (naturally...when are there not?) but this will have to do for now. Kudos if you made it all the way to the end. I promise I won't let so many days go by without another update.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lots to catch up, yet again


Day 47


Day 136


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Day 139


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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

No more babies 'round here

Eleri hasn't really been a baby anymore for quite some time, but it's seemed especially obvious these past couple of weeks that she's growing up fast.

She is using more and more words - or distinctly word-like sounds - and very often just mimics whatever we happen to be saying. She's retaining at least some of it, too. This morning, she and I were in the kitchen, and I was getting ready to feed the cats. Leo was doing his usual whining for food, and completely unprompted (I hadn't said a word), Eleri looked at him and said, "Shush-a. Up." Haha. And the night before, when I'd been trying to get her to fall asleep, she could hear Tom in the other room and kept saying, "Daddy! Hi Daddy. Hi! Daddy, huuuuuuug." It's pretty darned cute.

We're on night #3 now of Eleri sleeping (or at least starting out the night) in Soren's room. The first night she woke up around 2 or 3, cried a bit, and Tom went and got her. Last night she showed up at my bedside, calm as could be, and requested, "Up, me." I still haven't decided whether to put the 4th side back on that crib or just leave it as a "big girl bed," but I figure we can see how the next few nights go.

Soren, for his part, has gone nearly a week now without coming into our room until it's light outside. Which, these days, is still pretty early, but then he climbs up on our bed and passes back out for another couple of hours, which is a-ok by me!

Ah, poor Els. Just woke up all sad (it's a little past midnight), and when I went in to check on her, it seems her stuffy nose is what's waking her up. Stupid summer colds. She's now asleep in my lap on the couch, snoring just a bit. I suspect it's not going to be the most restful night for us. But at least we're on the right track (foolish as that may be to claim, just 3 nights in) on the kids-sharing-a-room front.

Anyway, where was I? I was remarking to a friend today that I'm definitely past the "toddler and an infant" stage and well into the "mom of two little kids" stage. It won't be much longer at all before Eleri is almost as tall as Soren. She just needs to get a little more stable on her feet, so he can't pull her over quite so easily when he tries to drag her by he hand this way and that. She often brings to mind that Chumbawamba song (without all the boozing, of course). She does get knocked down, and frequently, but she almost always gets right back up again.

Seems like I had more Eleri updates to relate, but I can't remember them at the moment. I'll have to think about starting a Twitter feed for her little gems too, though, as she continues talking more and more. ;)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Getting up to things

Last Thursday we went to the zoo. Not a field trip or anything, just a trip to the zoo with A and his mom. Eleri rode in the stroller while Soren walked the whole time, which was pretty nice. Wore him out but good, and I didn't have to haul around a toddler on my back. ;) I didn't get my act together in time to make lunch for us before we left the house, so we were stuck buying food at the zoo. Surprisingly, there was a little "Brats & BBQ" stand that sold some tasty sausages and BBQ sandwiches. Not bad.

The zoo is on a big hill. I've discovered that the best strategy is to park in the lot at the bottom of the hill, so you do all the hard work at the beginning and get to walk back downhill at the end of the day. (I know. I am very smart.) At the downhill end of the zoo, there's a little "farm" with cows, alpacas, goats, donkeys, rabbits & pigs. Not quite a petting zoo, since most of the animals don't hang out near enough to the fences for you to pet them, but not precisely your standard zoo animals either. Next to the farm is a "Pizza Garden." It's supposed to show kids how vegetables are grown and get them thinking about where their food comes from, I guess. Anyway, in the middle of the "Pizza Garden" is a very large rubber pizza play area, with giant onion and mushroom slices that you can drag around and rearrange.


Guess what Soren & A's favorite part of the zoo was.

It was an unexpectedly nice day. It'd been brutally hot and humid earlier in the week, but Thursday it started to cool down and dry out a bit. Very nice. Perfect zoo-going weather, really.

Friday, playschool, errands, nap for Eleri, little bit of time out for myself in the evening after Tom got home.

Saturday at the barn, my instructor took us on a trail ride through the woods. It was a hot morning, and the arena was already horribly dusty by 10am, so I didn't mind one bit. Plus we got to jump a little bit, which I am almost never going to complain about. ;)

In the late afternoon, Tom took the skraelings out with him to the grocery store, and I dragged myself up off the couch (where I was just about to fall asleep) and down to the gym (where I ran 3 miles on the treadmill and lifted weights). Good decision! I was surprised to feel just fine afterward. The sore, sore leg muscles didn't show up until the next day. Heh. Oh well, still worth it.

Sunday evening we had Alice over for dinner. She brought over a glazed strawberry pie (holy freaking yum), which we devoured after scarfing down the lamb that Tom made and the asparagus tart that Alice made. Good eats!

Today's playschool outing took us to one of the spray parks in Arlington. I actually got a little bit of video of the kids playing in the water, which I'll try to put up here sometime this month. It's already starting to get hot and humid again (Thursday's supposed to be just awful), so I suspect there will be more water-related outings in our near future.

That's it for now. Oh, and if you haven't already, you can check out the pictures from our New York trip here. I still have a few more to post, but the majority of them are up there (200 and counting). Enjoy. :)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Johnsons Visit New York (Part Two)

Saturday was our museum day. We went to the American Museum of Natural History, which is right next to Central Park. I'm not sure if it's actually bigger than the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, but it sure felt like it. We were there for about 4 hours and barely made it through half the exhibits. Lots of dinosaur bones and taxidermied animals and stuff to see.

We saw quite a few blocks of (upper? ish?) Manhattan on our way to and from the subway stations. There was an impressive array of restaurants along the way, each looking - and smelling - tastier than the last. We ended up at Patsy's Pizzeria for an early dinner, where we ordered a pizza with pepperoni, fresh basil & sun-dried tomatoes. It was quite delicious.

Those of us who had done a lot of walking fell asleep pretty easily that night. Eleri, on the other hand, took about an hour to finally settle and conk out. Much too much excitement (and too many piggy-back rides), I guess.

Sunday morning we got up & out and went to ride the Staten Island Ferry. It's kind of a perfect touristy activity - the short (25 minutes each way), FREE trip affords passengers a decent view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Lower Manhattan. We didn't linger on Staten Island (not that much to see anyway, from what I understand) because we had lunch reservations at Les Halles. Oh my goodness yum. Tom & Shannon both had mussels, I had duck confit (out-friggin-standing), and we ordered a French Dip sandwich for the kids. They didn't eat much of it; all the more deliciousness for us. Muahaha.

On our way to the restaurant, we walked up Wall Street, past the big bull statue. There was a horde of people waiting to take photos next to it, more than a few of whom were especially interested in posing beside the bull's balls. (We did not stop for photos.) After lunch we walked by the WTC site and through a bit more of Lower Manhattan. It's quite the city, New York. Lots of people going every which way, buildings crammed together and trying to make the most out of extremely limited space. I think I would probably feel claustrophobic if I had to spend a lot of time there.

Back out to Brooklyn in the afternoon, for a meetup with some blog acquaintances. On the face of it, meeting up with people you met online and bringing your small kids along, at a beer garden no less, probably doesn't sound like an example of stellar parenting. But we've had great experiences meeting folks from this blog before, and this time was no exception. And believe it or not, the beer garden was one of the more kid-friendly venues in the area.

So we tasted some German beers (and I also tried the apple wine, which was pretty good), and chatted. I built houses out of beer coasters, which Soren gleefully knocked down. A stop at another neighborhood diner on our way back to Shannon's rounded out the evening. Bags were packed and preparations made for our trip home in the morning.

Monday morning I woke up early (before 6:00) to the sound of rain pouring outside. Fortunately, it had abated by the time we needed to head to the train station, a few hours later. We stopped for the last of our quintessential NYC culinary experiences on the way - bagels. I do love me some bagels, and these were very tasty. I wasn't brave enough to sample any of the many fish-related options (lox, various smoked fishes, etc.) on my own bagel, but I did try a bite of Shannon's bagel with whitefish salad and actually enjoyed that quite a bit. We met up wtih another friend, Wylie, and visited with her until it was time to board our train.

On the ride home, we lucked out to find four seats next to each other, and we ended up right in front of another family with kids the same age as ours. Soren and the other boy were pretty adorable, chatting over the seat with each other.

"Do you see that tree?"
"Yes."
"Do you see that bridge?"
"Yes."
"Do you see that truck?"
"Yes."
"Do you see that gate?"
"Yes."

And so on.

And thus it was that our New York vacation came to a close. We had a really great time, and I'm so glad we got to go. My cousin was awesome for hosting us and tolerating our crazy little weasels. We'll definitely be making our way back up there sometime in the future. :)