Yes, we over in the Elliot household are getting a little wild. First it was the $3 zester. That was unbudgeted item. Alright maybe, I'm exaggerating a little bit, but this next item certainly was an unforeseen expense. Perhaps if we had acknowledged it a little earlier, it wouldn't have been unexpected.
The moaning groaning had been going on for about a year now. Every time we had a sitter, we would need to tell her not to think she needed to call the police or Ghostbusters if she heard it. Honestly at the beginning it would wake the boys up at night...not to mention me. The Big Giraffe is a deep sleeper so it didn't seem to bother him too much. Finally I couldn't take it anymore, so I sought help. The problem was actually solved, but a new one arose. It just couldn't be satisfied. It became so time consuming that I had just about had it. Until there was a flood. That was the final straw.
Today we are the proud new owners of a brand-new toilet. That's right. For the amount we spent on this toilet (which was the cheapest one we could find that had a good reputation) we could have bought a ton of zesters.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: If your toilet is moaning and groaning it's probably time to call in a plumber.
I'll give you a moment to get the U2 song into your head (or click on it so you can actually hear it). It will set the tone for this post. Then you can be mad at me for the rest of the day when you can't get it back out of your head.
One of the many things that just leaves me staring in amazement is the way streets are named in Massachusetts. Many streets do not appear to have a name. That's not to be confused with streets that change names every block. I've had quite a few debates with people over the names of streets. They will insist that a road may be called Belmont Street or Boston Turnpike, while I will point out that if I follow the signs for Route 9 and ignore when it is called Belmont Street, Boston Turnpike, Highland Street, or any other name, I will get to Natick and see the fabulous new mall with the Cheesecake Factory. Quite honestly, if it takes you to cheesecake, does it really matter what it's called?
This brings me to this past Sunday. I decided to take a second stab at running the course (literally) for the triathlon. Well...most of the course. I didn't do the swimming. I did the biking again with no problem. Then armed with the handwritten list of street names for the running course that I had copied from the triathlon website, I took off. Everything seemed fine, until I realized I was back at the main street without having run through every street on my list. Based on the amount of time that elapsed, there were two possibilities: I had doubled my running speed or more likely, I had somehow lost a mile of the course. How weird does that sound? It's true though. The same thing happened the week before when my triathlon training buddy and I also attempted the running part of the course. The only difference was that time she had written the directions.
Determined to find where I took a wrong turn, I retraced my steps. That's when I realized the third possible explanation. I had stepped into a Harry Potter book. You HP fans know that in order to get to Diagon Alley, someone (usually Hagrid) has to tap a strange pattern of swipes onto what looks to the average person like a brick wall with his umbrella. The wall then magically disappears revealing a magical town. I believe that the triathlon course is similar. I needed Hagrid to bring his magic pink umbrella to tap on one of the luxury driveways in this neighborhood to magically cause another street to appear. I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside.
Of course in this very nice neighborhood it is hard to distinguish driveways from small streets; I suspect one of those non-driveways may be the missing link on the secret triathlon route. I did take a gander down several driveways, but after getting weird looks from a homeowner or two, I decided it was better to hedge my bets that the course will be marked on race day than spend the next several hours in jail after the cops were called on me for trespassing. That would make me want to run and want to hide. This does impact my race gear. In addition to needing shoes, a bike, a swim suit, a helmet, brown and a bag to wear over my head or throw up in (but not in that order), I also need a magic pink umbrella.
Alright, I am sure the prosaic among you may have come up with another explanation for the missing mile on my triathlon route. It is possible that the map on-line was wrong. It could also just be my mistake. My spinning instructor told me that she missed the microscopic street the first time she ran that triathlon while waving back at a friendly (or mischievous) neighborhood kid who waved at her. HP magic sounds way more fun. My favorite explanation remains the possibility that I developed superpowers and ran the until course in record breaking speed...
All I can do is what I told my training buddy. "When I go there, I go there with you. It's all I can do."
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: The amount of time required to finish a triathlon depends on your speed, the length of the route, and the amount of the route that you follow.
I've hosted a handful of showers in the ten years (has it really been that long?) since I've graduated from college. This by no means makes me any kind of expert, particularly since each shower has been pretty different. I've hosted showers at a restaurant with just a few guests, at other people's homes with a lot of guests, and at my current home during the holiday season because my good dishes, which I love, are Christmas china.
Sunday, I threw a shower with two other women for a friend who's due with her second child next month. We decided to have a tea. I was quite excited about it. About once a year, I decide to embark on a journey of self-discovery. It leaves me feeling like I know myself a little bit better and have given myself a full mental workout. I think the everyday word for this is baking. That's right. Before packing for this journey going to the grocery store, I conjured up images of hairnets, safety goggles, bio-hazard suits and Bunsen burners. Maybe that was a little extreme. I did announce to the Big Giraffe though importantly that I was off to bake. He inquired what I was baking first, and I announced sandwiches. He looked puzzled. I clarified that baking to me means having to deal with anything that makes a mess on my counters. Placing school projects and mail on the counter also falls into that category. Wow, I really do have a lot of experience with baking!
I had fun with my baking. That's why I like to keep it as the rare treat: it allows to me fully enjoy the experience leaving me wanting to do it again, but not anytime soon. That and the fact that I munch on the extras and thus always leave a baking session feel slightly ill and exhausted.
I'll leave you in suspense regarding the menu for a moment longer. We used several people's tea cups and saucers so that every guest had a unique cup. We also used four different tea pots including mine. In addition to coffee, an assortment of teas, punch and water with limes, we had the following menu straight out of Barefoot Contessa Parties! cookbook which I definitely will be adding to my Amazon wish list.
I'm going to leave you in suspense for minute. The Big Giraffe and I got married almost 7 years ago. We both lived in our own apartments and we each owned a set of dishes, pots, pans, silverware and kitchen appliances. When it was time to register, we decided that since we already owned these things (some in duplicate) we weren't going to register for them. We would only register for things that we absolutely needed like the waffle maker...the one that's been sitting in a closet for almost 7 years that we've used twice.
As we looked at aisles and aisles of kitchenware, I remember thinking that it was all such a waste. Didn't people know how to minimize? In my boldness, I may have even said something to that effect to the salesperson in my engagement giddiness. This giddiness is now making me blush as I type this.
Now that I have delved more into cooking over the past four years of being a stay at home mom, and my husband has gotten into cooking on the weekends, I would like to go back and shake my 25 year old self and ask what I was thinking when I registered! Why didn't we replace our things with good stuff that we actually liked instead of the odds and ends of things we already had most of which weren't in great shape? Why didn't we expand on what we had? Why on earth do we have a waffle maker sitting in our guest closet? Alright that's a conversation I should also be having right now with my 32 year old self.
Last night I actually baked. I'll pause for a moment of silence because this is a rare event in our house. Pause. This was for a baby shower that I'm hosting today. One of things I made was lemon bars. Lemon bars (or at least my recipe for lemon bars) require lemon zest. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. For the past seven years, I have used many recipes that have required zest. Most of them tend to be low fat chicken ones that require orange zest. I have always done the logical thing: skip the zest. Why did I need to skip it? Well, a zester is one of the items that I scoffed at when registering. Truth be told, I'm not sure I had even seen one before I registered, but I do remember what it looked like at Crate and Barrel when I did register. The handle was shaped like a lime.
Yesterday I decided enough was enough, and I shelled out $3 for a cheapo zester at the grocery store while fully aware that had a I registered for one instead of... oh let's just say for example... a waffle iron, I would have a nice cute one that didn't look like it was going to fall apart. We are now the proud owners of a cheap zester! Note to self: next time I'm near a place that sells decent kitchenware, buy a decent zester. Second note to self: do something about waffle iron.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: If you plan to bake with zest, you need a zester.
Summer is here! No, I'm not referring to the gorgeous weather we've had the past couple of weeks or the fact that it's actually starting to get light when I get up in the morning and stay light in the evenings. I'm not even referring to the fact that the kids were in shorts today or that they've been sleeping well from all our excursions to the park. Today I had actually proof. It was in the form of something small and brownish. In fact at first I thought it was a piece of the brownie that my older son (OS) had been eating. I figured my younger son (YS) had gotten his hands on it. That's why I was so surprised when I went to brush it off YS's head and it didn't budge. I'm sure you can guess what it was: a tick. I did what any reasonable parent would do; I invited my friend who was with me to see what it looked like in case her baby got one. Yes, summer is here. Alright, I know that summer doesn't officially start until June 21 (YS's birthday) and that you can get ticks all year long, but I don't generally think about them until summer.
In case you are wondering this was a dog tick which is big, not a deer tick which is small. The advice from the pediatrician was to remove it and then clean the area with soap and water. I just need to keep an eye on it for swelling, redness or rash.
This past Tuesday, my triathlon training buddy and I met with a personal trainer for a running session in the park. It did strike me as ironic that one day after the Boston marathon, we were running around a dinky park.
Much to my surprise, the running went really well. In fact I would go so far as to say it's the best running experience I've had so far, even with all the hills. There was just one problem: I'm a heavy breather. No seriously, I'm incredibly noisy for the first mile I run, and I swear that you don't have to be running next to me to hear it. Yes, I'm still noisy for the rest of my run, but like a car that's warmed up, I am not quite as loud. The few people I've run with have confirmed this. On bad days I feel like a noisy water buffalo with cement shoes. It was a lot worse before I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma. I am making progress, right?
I mentioned my concerns to the trainer. She told me not to worry; over time it will get much better. She pointed out that the participants in the Boston marathon are breathing fine by mile ten. I looked at our surrounding, small park, and thought about the Boston marathon. I felt like I had crossed mile 26, but I hadn't even gotten anywhere near mile 10. Hmmm...guess I have a lot of work to do.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Running lightens heavy breathing.
It is recommended that you hum the relevant 80's song while reading this post.
A short while back, I decided to "investigate" getting a good pair of sunglasses. This involved me asking numerous friends what sunglasses they wore, putting a query out on the moms group list-serve, and then reading various reviews of different sunglasses recommended for triathlons. For a few nights, I would glance up from my laptop and share significant findings with the Big Giraffe who by the end didn't even pretend he was paying attention. I believe at one point he said something to the effect of "Enough with the sunglasses. Just get them."
The problem was that I've always been an owner of gas station quality sunglasses. The lenses popped out, and the frames tended to be slightly askew. Sometimes a lot more that slightly. Last year, I paid a bit more and was much happier with my sunglasses, but I still had issues with them not fitting right and the lenses popping out; this would be particularly bad if this happened during the biking portion of my triathlon. I have enough issues without adding sudden blindness to the equation.
Today I took the plunge and went and got a pair of Sunglasses. Sally HP came with me and assured me that they looked fine. She even put a very different pair of sunglasses for comparison. She pointed out that my pair looked normal, while the pair that she had grabbed were probably fine for racing but would make you look like a tool as soon as the race was over. The salesman laughed causing Sally to later wonder if perhaps he had owned a pair of those sunglasses.
When the Big Giraffe came home tonight, after warning my older son (OS) not to touch my sunglasses or their case, I went and put on my new sunglasses. I was then wearing my sunglasses at night, hence the title of this post. I turned around so he could see them all excited about my new purchase. He started laughing. I had an immediate flashback to Sally's tool comment. Great, my first pair of good sunglasses and I looked like...to continue using 80s terms...a complete dweeb. The Big Giraffe suggested I look at our older son (OS) because apparently my new sunglasses had impaired my vision. What?! All afternoon I had been enjoying the fact that I could see really well! What hadn't I seen? Apparently, OS had unbeknownst to me grabbed the case and was playing with it.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Reverse psychology may be a good thing.
My Earth Day Post-Written by a Purchaser of Disposable Diapers
As you hopefully know, tomorrow is Earth Day. I thought I would write a post about what we do at the Elliot household.
We're not tree huggers in this household. My older son (OS) wore and my younger son (YS) wears disposable diapers. When I was in college and later living in my first apartment, I would go through periods were I would be totally green, and then I would swing right back. To me trying to become greener is like trying to lose weight. I'm sure many of you are wincing at that analogy, but to me it's true. In both cases, I'm doing something to become healthier (or make the earth healthier) and they both involve trying to find ways to substitute healthier products, whether reusable grocery bags or turkey dogs on the grill, to become healthier. Most importantly, if I fall off the wagon, I can get right back on again.
That last part was huge for me. I was completely all or nothing. However, since I've comes to terms with the fact that every little bit makes a difference, I feel better about trying to go green. Diapers are a really good example. Yes, we do use disposable diapers. Actually the Big Giraffe and I did talk about using cloth diapers numerous times, but decided to go with disposable. However, we do have the maximum number of recycling bins our town permits (hey if you saw how little our neighbors recycle you would probably think it's a big deal) and we try really hard to buy in bulk, reuse Ziplock bags when appropriate (not bags that have held a dirty diaper), use plastic containers, and try and use mainly real water bottles instead of disposable. I just bought Sigg water bottles this week for our family! We changed most of our cleaners to environmentally friendly cleaners as well as our liquid dish soap and hand soap.
This is not to say that I don't ever use bleach. Yes, whenever I host a playdate or playgroup where someone has pet allergies, I do use bleach on the counters. I will use Lysol on the kitchen floor because we have two cats and a dog and I don't want to mess around with that. That's only about once a month though. Yes, there are times when we run out of soap and I will grab whatever is on hand so to speak at CVS, and it's not green. Or times like this past Halloween where they had really cute handsoap in a pumpkin shaped dispenser that encouraged my 4 year old to wash his hands or a nice scented soap that I really like just for the very rare treat. There also are times when I just don't have a plastic container to spare so I use ziplock baggies and throw them out if they contained something messy and we're out for the day. Likewise, I haven't found a container or insulated lunch box that is compatible for my son's lunch at school, so one day a week I do use a ziplock bag. I remain on the look-out for something that will work and allow his lunch to keep cool.
In our household, there's definitely lots of room for improvement, but I feel by focusing on what we can do instead of what we can't do or aren't doing, we are striving to become greener.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Every bit of green helps.
Back in the fall, we all took a trip to the aquarium with my mother in law. She bought my older son (OS) a pink mermaid doll at his request. It looks just like a Groovy Girl doll with a tail. He liked it, but other toys definitely took priority. Every once in a while the mermaid would make an appearance and both boys would play with her. I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but suddenly my younger son (YS) was playing more and more with her. I think it may have started when he wanted to play with OS's favorite toy which is a ratty Groovy Girl doll. Not wanting to part with her, I think he may have given YS the mermaid as a temporary distraction. It was effective, but it proved not to be so temporary. Around the same time, the boys also watched the Little Mermaid at a friend's house. They began to request it at home. Whether it was a single event or a combination of events, one thing is for sure: YS is attached to the pink mermaid. He always wants the pink mermaid.
Of course you more experienced parents may know where this one is going. Now OS is claiming ownership on the mermaid. I know he really has no interest in it except to exert his claim over it. Needless to say, this has caused enough tears from each boy to float a mermaid, although OS now seems to understand the mermaid is YS's special toy. He gained understanding from my promise to take them to the aquarium (which should be a treat in itself) to buy him a new mermaid. Not surprisingly OS wasn't happy about this last part. He wants the original mermaid, which technically was of course his. The mermaid that now has a ripped tail and is covered in who knows. The mermaid that has already had numerous baths in the washing machine and needs another one.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: It's never too late to stake ownership on a toy.
A couple of months ago, my doctor gave me some inhaler samples. The box said that the inhaler contained 200 metered units. I was to use two units before exercising. This inhaler should have lasted me a few months. Yet one day it stopped working. I used the next sample. After a few weeks the same thing happened.
My doctor called in a prescription and when I picked it up I asked the pharmacist about the samples. She said that many times samples are just that...a sample. I questioned the fact that the boxes of the samples and the box for the prescription were identical. She said that didn't matter.
I used my prescription inhaler for a couple weeks and once again it stopped working. I couldn't figure out what was going on because my prescription was to use two puffs four times a day. I only used two puffs one time a day. Clearly something was wrong. Was I using too much of it? I didn't think that was possible. An inhaler is premeasured meaning it doesn't work like an aerosol can. I was worried that it would stop working right before my triathlon. Just what I needed. My mom suggested going back to the pharmacy and showing them how I was using it. Right before I left Suzanne called me. I asked her about her experience with her inhalers . She told me that she hadn't experienced anything like this. I then asked her if she ever washed hers, because I vaguely remembered seeing a diagram on the insert from the inhaler box. You know, the type of inserts that come inside medications and tampon boxes? I usually throw them away, but I happened to have saved one. Suzanne mentioned that she did occasionally wash hers.
After getting off the phone, I washed my inhaler out. Then I took a puff. A very small piece of crud apparently flew off into my mouth and then the whole inhaler worked. Gross. Was this from the time I didn't brush my teeth before spinning? Was this a dog breath piece of crud? Same thing with one of the samples, although this time fortunately without crud. I still need to test out the third one. I went back and read the directions. Turns out you are supposed to wash the inhaler at least once a week to prevent medicine build up over the opening of the spray. Phew, not dog breath crud.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Wash your inhaler at least once per week.
Thanks for all your comments and suggestions! I have found out some interesting things about fine motor skills in the past day.
First of all, I decided of course that I'm going to do the suggested activities on the worksheet from my older son's (OS) teacher. Since my younger son (YS) wants to do everything that OS does, he'll also be participating. However, since YS has always had remarkable fine motor skills, this extra work will probably give him superhero skills where at the tender age of 21 months, he'll be able unlock the deadbolt go outside and hotwire my car.
I talked to a friend of mine who was a kindergarten teacher for many years and she told me something very interesting. She said contrary to what people might think, many times the best way to work on fine motor skills is to work on the upper arm strength. Of course I should have OS do the activities for fine motor skills, but I should alternate them with upper arm strength skills; one day for fine motor skills and one day for doing things like throwing a ball.
The reason behind this is that if the upper arms aren't strong enough, it affects the way the entire arm functions. It doesn't go backwards though so working on fine motor skills does not increase arm strength. Too bad about that or I could trade my weight lifting for typing on my computer!
One of the questions she asked me is if OS crawled using his arms. Not surprisingly he didn't. He was a "butt hopper". I don't know how to explain because I've never seen another kid do it nor had his pediatrician, but it was like he frog hopped on his bottom. He would actually get clearance. My friend said that he may have never fully developed his arm strength.
Then she told me the big question. Get ready because here it is: can your child do the monkey bars? Yes, you did read that right. There is a correlation between kids doing monkey bars and penmanship. The better the kids are at the monkey bars, the better the penmanship. The Big Giraffe looked stunned by this realization because he really struggled with monkey bars as a kid and he still struggles with his penmanship now. It all has to do with arm strength. Needless to say, OS cannot hold on for more than a second or two much less attempt to move to the next bar.
We actually had already been discussing enrolling OS in gymnastics. He's currently in swimming and I didn't want to do too much. However, school is over next month so I think two activities for the summer would be really fun for him. Actually for all my initial issues with art class, I soon began swim team and did gymnastics and I would go so far as to say the fine motor skills are one of my strengths now. In the meantime, we will be doing fun and exciting things like picking up pasta and dried beans with tongs and working on monkey bars at the park. I have a feeling the Big Giraffe will be right behind OS in line for the monkey bars.
I talked to OS's teacher this morning and she said that OS's struggle is age appropriate. Phew! Other kids in the class also got the note.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Got bad penmanship? Go for a swing or two across the monkey bars.
This morning at playgroup I asked one of the moms who is a teacher about bullying. This has been a topic on our moms group list-serve and I was surprised that no one had suggested talking with the parents to handle the situation. I wasn't sure if you weren't supposed to do that or if I had missed an email where the mom explained that either she already had talked to the other mom or had chosen not to for a specific reason. Turns out it was the latter. However, my friend did say that a lot of times parents don't want to hear that their child is being a bully.
You probably know where this one is going. Immediately I swore to myself that I was never going be one of "those" parents who didn't want to hear that her child was less than perfect. I mentally scoffed at those parents. Then I went to pick up my older son (OS) from preschool.
After unclipping his backpack and strapping him into his booster seat, I opened up his backpack and noticed a note from his teacher. It contained a printed list of things to do to improve fine motor skills. At the top was a sentence from the teacher suggesting that OS do some of them. I felt myself getting defensive. OS didn't have a problem with his fine motor skills! His skills are just fine. He's four not fourteen! There's no reason that being a little behind in fine motor skills should cause someone to almost fail art class and thus be in danger of repeating second grade. Oh wait a minute, that was me! Who exactly was I talking about? I silently said my little mantra "I am not my child, my child is not me".
I still felt a little indignant. Then I remembered that only seconds earlier I had found myself questioning whether OS may have a little difficulty with fine motor skills. After all, he cannot strap himself into his booster seat with his seatbelt, and he cannot easily clip the straps of his backpack across his chest, much less unclip them. While his teacher had mentioned to me that she still has to help some of the kids in the class, most of them can do these things themselves. OS is one of the youngest in the class...though. Hmm...apparently I just can't get past this art class. It probably is a good idea to do some Crafts for the Clueless-worthy activities follow some of the suggestions from the worksheet. Of course I left a message for the teacher to to discuss it.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned:You are not your child-repeat after me.
I remember when my older son (OS) was just a tiny baby. When I looked at him, I imagined that he would always be gurgling and sweet. Alright I knew that he wouldn't remain like that forever but to be honest whenever I saw kids melting down I did secretly believe that OS wouldn't ever do such a thing. Come on, you haven't ever wondered if it was the parent? Be honest.
Over time, I have come to accept, begrudgingly, OS's temper tantrums. Today however I had a big realization: OS is an instigator. There I said it. It's true though.
Sally HP and I were getting ready to drive back from the Magic Wings aka the Butterfly Museum. She had bought butterfly lollipops for the kids. She even commented on how great the sticks were because they were plastic and thus wouldn't dissolve and get all gross like regular lollipop sticks do. I was impressed with her thoughtfulness. I was also impressed with the size of the sticks. I worried that OS would use it to poke at his brother or Sally's son. Fortunately the kids were all excited about the candy and quietly ate it.
Or so I thought. Then we heard a noise...kind of a scratching sound. I was baffled about what it could be. Then Sally asked OS to stop scratching the ceiling of her car with his lollipop. That's right, OS quickly figured out that the nice long lollipop pole stick could reach the ceiling. Oh, and he didn't finish eating the candy first. Of course, the other two boys wanted in on the game and before we knew it all three of them were scratching the ceiling with their wet sticky lollipops. I believe Sally indicated that this is what she should have expected from giving kids lollipops attached to the end of fishing poles. I can't say for sure because I was laughing so hard.
Of course OS stopped doing the scratching while YS continued. In fact even after YS finished his candy, in between ceiling scratches (hope Sally's car ceiling is cleaner than mine), he still was waving the stick around oblivious to the fact that the game had been over for a while.
I'm sure that OS has been an instigator before today. In fact, I would bet it's even happened more than once, particularly with his younger brother. I just wasn't as aware of his new status as that kid. Since as the younger sibling, YS always follows the trends after his brother is done finished, it appears like they are his idea
Sally HP's Lesson Learned: Do not give children lollipops with long sticks when enclosed places.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: At some point your sweet baby will become that kid.
To read about our trip to Magic Wings, (gotta love that name) click here.
This past Sunday I had the pleasure of getting together with two of my college friends. We try to get together a couple times a year, but like everything else it's much easier said than done. Somewhere amongst stories of childbirth, kids, husbands, and work, our conversation stumbled onto the subject of storage. I think it came up when discussing how hard it is to keep your house clean with little kids. (This is not to be confused with the conversation I later had with Linda's husband during which I mentioned that our room looks like a disaster zone and he triumphantly turned to Linda and said that none of their good friends have a neat bedroom.) When it did come up, we all immediately jumped in to share our woes regarding where to stuff our husband's giant gray winter coat that takes up more room than any three normal coats. Alright that last part was just me, but my friends also had coat storage issues.
Linda happen to casually mention that she gives thanks to the dry cleaner. I looked at her quizzically. She explained that she takes the coats to the dry cleaner when it gets warm and then picks them up when she needs them in the fall. She even described how people forget about things at the dry cleaner for a long time and then remember them eons later. (Sadly, I can relate.) What a fantastic idea! I could get the giant coat clean and get rid of it store it at the same time! I wouldn't have to worry about where to put any of our coats. Immediately a reality check set in: I must really be at a different place in life to get excited about dry cleaners.
The discussion moved to other subjects, but sometime during dessert I took us back to the cleaners because I just couldn't believe how clever Linda was. Clever she still is, but it turns out this is an actual program offered by many dry cleaners. At least at Linda's cleaners, it doesn't cost anything extra, so it's essentially the same thing as cleaning and forgetting to pick clothes up except that you're guaranteed they won't throw them out!
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Your dry cleaner may offer storage for your winter coats.
Bicycling Lessons: What's Life without a Little Humiliation?
A. Elliot's Lessons Learned after doing a dry run of my triathlon course:
If your triathlon training buddy falls off her bike while standing still in the parking lot and almost takes you out with her, laughing will not convince her cyclist husband to take both of you seriously.
It probably isn't appropriate to laugh at your friend no matter how funny it is and instead of helping her up, to point out that if you had been clipped in you also would have fallen over too without a doubt. This may cause further laughter from the both of you which will not make her husband take you any more seriously.
The terms "easier gear" and "harder gear" are not the correct terms for the gears on a racing bike but they are very clear. Calling the gear that makes it easier to pedal "The Big Easy" because it is the physically larger gear is also clear.
Going for your first bike ride on a somewhat busy street after previously only riding around school parking lots can be a little intimidating, even if the street is the actual course for the triathlon in which you will be racing next month. Unfortunately in MA there's a severe shortage of sidewalks
Pot holes that are annoying when driving a car are down right scary when on a bike
You might seriously wonder if you will be more hurt going over the pothole or getting hit by a car. Then you'll realize that it is most likely that the two will happen simultaneously
You may find yourself with new found respect and awareness for bicyclists and their abilities to the point that you may take a detour when back in your car to avoid passing a cyclist
Although it is common practice in Massachusetts for those driving cars to drive while practically touching the car in front of them, it is dangerous and bad driving etiquette. Although it is common practice for inexperienced cyclists to leave a car length's space between the bicycle in front of them, it is dangerous, because it increases the risk of being hit by a car, and bad cycling etiquette. The correct cycling etiquette is for your tires to practically be touching.
Wearing any sort of loose pants like oh say your gray sweatpants over your biking shorts is a really really bad idea. Being a little self-conscious about how you look in bike pants is better than spending the entire ride worried that one of the times that your sweatpants got caught in the spokes of your bike may send you flying over the handles of your bike resulting in pain and self-consciousness
I really still can't believe this, but fear of death, potholes, cars, and caught sweatpants do not increase the number of calories burned during the bicycling. I know!
If you spend much of the ride trying to remember to avoid potholes, cars, and spokes while keeping up with your friend and practicing shifting your gears, the course will be over before you know it
So much learning happens in preschool and that's just for the parents. If I look back at my older son's (OS) almost two years of preschool, I realize that I've come a long way, learning appropriate parental attire for the open house, how to spy on my child from the parking lot, appropriate birthday party etiquette, what gifts to give teachers, and of course the rules around preschool Valentine's Day parties. Forgot knowing letters, numbers and colors, learning the whole social system of preschool is education in and of itself!
Yesterday I learned the most important lesson of all. This is really big so you might want to get a pen and paper. Way important, right? Don't worry, I will explain why it is so important.
When OS was a baby, one of the playgroup hostesses bought a tub of cookie dough from a neighbor's kid as part of a school fundraiser. The cookies were pretty good. Based on that recollection, I decided to participate this year when OS's preschool did the cookie dough fundraiser. We really haven't done very much with fundraisers, and, if it's a choice between buying wrapping paper or cookie dough...well...that's not a hard choice for me. The order form had a list of different types of cookie dough., but the most important choice was whether to get break away cookies or a tub of cookie dough. I chose the tub of cookie dough of course. This was my type of baking. I immediately conjured images of my boys lovingly scooping out balls of dough together. I would ruffle their hair and the three of us would laugh just because we were all so happy. I even had images of us using cookie cutters to cut the cookies into fun shapes. Yeah, I don't know where I was going with that one; Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cookies probably don't mold into elephants too well. Frequent readers will be surprised to learn that there was no fireplace in this vision; it is April after all!
I was surprised when I picked OS up from school because there were boxes and boxes of break away cookie dough but only a few scattered boxes of the tubs. That should have been a sign right there. We picked up our cookie dough and, since I have been trying to eat better, particularly since my first triathlon is around the corner, I did the reasonable thing and suggested bringing the cookie dough to a playdate that had been planned for the next day. The kids were excited to make cookies. However, as soon as we let them start scooping out the dough, we realized the break away cookies would have been better.
First of all, one metal spoon snapped, even though I could have sworn the dough was completely defrosted. Second, the kids all wanted to scoop at the same time. Third, the older kids were better at scooping the dough than the little kids. As a result, my younger son's cookies were tiny. Of course, he got bent out of shape when I tried to make them bigger. It seemed like a no win situation. No one would have wanted the microscopic cookies when they burned, and OS would have been the first one to want one of the bigger cookies...made by one of the older kids. In fact, once the cookies were baked, the kids all argued over who got the bigger cookies. Break away cookies are all the same size. The other mom and I looked at each other and at the same time said "break away cookies." Then we prepared several cookies for ourselves on a separate cookie sheet. Hey, I saw how the kids cookies were handled!
The cookies were still delicious. Like anything else, with YS I'll be better prepared.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Buy break-away-cookies for the school fundraiser not the tubs of cookie dough.
The past few days have been beautiful. As such, I've forced myself to get off the couch cheerfully rounded up the kids and taken them to the playground. The first time we were there, my older son (OS) went straight to the slides. My younger son (YS) just sort of wandered around not sure where to go first. He picked up sand, then put it down. He walked here, there and everywhere. Part of walking everywhere was that he walked right in front of someone using the swings and almost got hit. He was so scared he started to cry. After comforting him, it occurred to me that he's never really been to the park before. Alright, yes technically he's been to a park, but not since he's been able to walk and therefore actually play on the playground. This was quickly followed by another realization: I've never been to the park before with two kids who were interested in playing in it. Both kids were interested in different things. I don't really have a definite solution to this right now except for sticking to small parks or parks that are fully enclosed. No words of wisdom here from me. Maybe this time next year I'll have figured out a good system.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: If you're not learning one thing, you're learning another as a parent.
Tomorrow I'm hosting playgroup. Don't get me wrong, I think it's really important for me to host because first of all it's only fair and second my younger son (YS) definitely needs to work on being a gracious host and sharing his toys. It seems like the minute his brother is out of the room, he somehow adopts his persona and starts telling the cats, the dog, and I think perhaps one or two walls that the toys are his. Poor kid. However as an older sibling myself I can't help but give my older son (OS) a mental high five. Yes, I know it's wrong.
The downside of hosting, is that it required me to spend an insanely long period of time today "de-furring" my house. This is a playgroup/playdate ritual that substantial time vacuuming, mopping and wiping down counters and tables. I have given up my plans of scientifically proving this, but anecdotal evidence leaves me convinced that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of time spent cleaning and the amount of fur left in my living room: the more time I spend, I swear the more likely it is for a guest to be covered in fur. I know that doesn't seem right. It is far easier to explain the direct correlation between the amount of fur covering a guest and the skyrocketing of my heartrate.
The obvious answer would be just not to clean at all, but somehow the amount of fur is still excessive when I don't clean which is logical but defies my other previously cited experiences. I just can't figure it out. My ideal solution would be to post a sign on my door (and in my email signature) warning people that they may only wear navy blue or fleece in my house at their own risk. I could further recommend jeans (and denim jackets) as the safest clothing option. Of course, in a world of competitive stay-at-home parenting, admitting to giving in like that would be socially unacceptable.
So I spent much of the morning washing the base boards (no this isn't a regular chore) downstairs and removing a Blair Witch Project type handprint from one of my walls, and lying on my stomach sweeping out under the couches and entertainment center. When I finished, I stood up to admire my sparkling house, feeling great pride in my achievement. Then I looked down. Right on my belly was a giant dust bunny. Great. I had so little control over the dust, that it could feel safe sitting mockingly on my own body! I had failed to clean, and with the dust bunny sitting on my belly, I felt fat too. Those dust bunnies! It doesn't matter how clean I get my house; they can reduce my self esteem to nothing with one wrong hop.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Whether or not you can stomach having dust around, it likes to belly up to you.
One of my favorite bloggers, Worker Mommy, has a What Would You Do Wednesday where she comes up with a scenario and asks her readers to say how they would respond. A couple weeks ago, I was talking with one of the lifeguards at the pool about responsibility to fellow patrons of the Y. I immediately questioned what that meant. Did that mean wiping down the machines in the weight room because seriously, I think some patrons need a workshop on that one. Perhaps it meant not cutting in line for the treadmills. Perhaps a workshop for that? Nah, I've only seen that one happen once or twice.
What she said, though really made me think. What do you do when you see someone who's wearing a see-through shirt or has their biking pants on inside out so that the giant crotch pad is on the outside? (I swear that one wasn't me!!) What about when they have toilet paper hanging out of the back of their pants and they're in the middle of working out? These are all things she's actually seen. Another staff member also piped in that she's seen those things a few times as well. Well, not the biking pants thing because that was her and she wished that someone had told her. The lifeguard said that she always politely points it out.
I sat there nodding my head in agreement. Of course I would tell the person. After all, I would want to be told. Better to be embarrassed in front of one person than a whole room full of people. How could someone not say something? I started to become indignant at those who let others embarrass themselves in silence. I began to think of the different scenarios in which I would not be afraid to tell the unknowing person about their faux pas. You know one of those daydreamy things where you have to remind yourself that the man wearing his shirt inside out in the weight room doesn't actually exist particularly since you are in the pool and haven't been in the weight room in two days? I was determined. I would do a blog post about it. Then I promptly forgot about it. It was like the conversation never happened.
Until today. I was sitting with my kids on the pool deck (YS was strapped in his stroller) waiting for swim lessons to start. One of the lap swimmers that I recognized from swimming at the pool for the past few years was there. She got out of the pool and I have to say that...well how should I put this...I didn't recognize her. Her suit was see through. She quickly went into the lockerroom. So you might assume that I grabbed the kids, dashed after her, and nicely informed her that it was time for the suit to retire. Sadly, I did no such thing. I was so surprised that I sat perfectly still. In the few seconds it took me to realize I should say something, she was already opening the lockerroom door. I had quite a view of her rear as she walked into the locker room. I hope that she was walking so quickly because she knew about her suit, but I think not. Hopefully the lifeguard will say something.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: What you want to do and what you do are not always the same.
When I told my kids to clean up their toys today, I was expecting them to put their toys away as in where they belonged as in the toy bin or on the shelves. For example, I assumed that the refrigerator magnets would be put away on...well, the refrigerator. Call me crazy for thinking that. I mean that's where they've been for the past two years. You can imagine my surprise when I happened to notice this evening that my shoes were neatly filled with the refrigerator magnets. In addition to developing a sense of responsibility regarding taking care of their toys, at least one of my boys is apparently developing a sense of humor. They certainly have sole. I am just glad I didn't put my foot down on this issue. I would have felt like a real heel. Of course, I did confiscate the offending magnets, so the next time they go looking for them, the shoe will be on the other foot.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Ambiguous direction to children leads to unambiguously undesirable results.
Yes I noticed you looking at my boys and me as you were registering I also just happened to catch the look of horror on your faces as you watched my boys. The look that you exchanged with your partner did not escape my attention.
I just want to assure you that I was once in your position. I remember being pregnant and imagining what my kids would be like as my husband and I registered at Babies R Us. I pictured how sweet they would look in the different cute outfits. I pictured how cozy they would be when snuggled into their new strollers. I pictured them gurgling happily in their new carseat. I did not picture them taking apart the stroller display.
You can take solace in the fact that your child will probably not get into the stroller display. Now that you have now been warned, I am confident you will make sure of it. They will find something that you too have not even imagined.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Prospective parents have no idea what they are getting into.
Dear Babies R Us Employee,
I appreciate the time you took to ask if I had any questions about the strollers. I am concerned about an assumption you made. I know that I have found myself as an adult realizing that I had "missed a step" growing up like not knowing that Greek yogurt existed. You and I are not alone in this. I would like to share a little lesson I tell my boys that I think you would find very comforting. Boys can like pink. I know it's shocking. You better brace yourself for the next part: girls can look blue. Finally this one, some boys don't like blue and some girls don't like pink. You can see now why my younger son had no interest in sitting in the blue stroller you suggested but instead wanted to sit in the identical pink stroller you didn't realize you were blocking.
I discovered what I am sure is one of many ironies about parenting. This particular one is about the brand-new cashmere sweater that you handle with great care. The best sweater you've had in years. The one that you justified getting at the holidays because it's on sale and you've lost weight so it's essentially a gift to yourself. The one that you won't wear around your kids because they might touch it with sticky fingers or spill juice all over it. How ironic is it then the when you put it on for a dessert night with your moms group that the waitress spills a glass of wine all over it? I have to say that at least the food was terrific!
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Adults can be as hard on nice things as children.
Suzanne got me hooked on something this weekend when I visited her in NYC. No, I can pretty much guarantee that it's not what your thinking! Actually, it's probably the furthest thing from what you're thinking.
One of my challenges in trying to eat well, lose weight, be healthy, be the perfect mom and wife, and one day rule the world all the while being blissfully happy, is trying to find satisfying snacks. That's right, the perfect snack is the secret to guaranteed success and happiness! Seriously, it's hard to find a snack that is healthy and tastes good enough that I would actually choose it over a brownie or cookie. Even if I don't have either of those favorite items in my house, which according to the Big Giraffe has been particularly true the past 10 months, I still am thinking that I would rather be eating them than the banana or pear that I am eating. I think perhaps if someone did find this perfect combination, they really would be able to rule the world!
I know you're all waiting with baited breath to hear what this fabulous find is. Brace yourself. You should also brace yourself because this is about as close to a "recipe" as you'll probably ever read on this blog!
It's non-fat plain Greek style yogurt with a teaspoon or two of jam in it. Shocking right? Suzanne had mentioned in her other blog Live Active Cultures that she really likes Greek yogurt. I had also had Greek yogurt before and enjoyed it. However I had never had the plain non-fat yogurt before in the big vat. What's the difference?
The difference is the serving size. One serving size of the non-fat Greek yogurt is a full cup whereas the Stonyville yogurts, which are what I usually eat, are only 6 ounces. In terms of Weight Watchers points, you can have a full tablespoon of jam in your one cup serving (three teaspoons of jam equal one tablespoon. Don't be embarrassed, I didn't know it until a few years ago when I was at one of those dinner assembly places) and it's exactly the same number of points as the 6 oz Chocolate Underground yogurt. It also tastes amazing because, unlike regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is double strained so it's really thick like sour cream. Yes, even the non-fat yogurt. Between the larger quantity and the thicker consistency, it also makes me feel full, thus helping me to avoid a second round of potentially more savory but less healthy snacks.
A little weird fact about me (one of many!) is that I don't like yogurt with fruit skins in it. That pretty much eliminates most of the fruit yogurts for me. Good jam doesn't have the skins in it, at least not the kind I buy, so this yogurt and jam combo tastes like a fruit yogurt without the skin.
One last tip, don't use your kids PB&J jam or any other jam that congeals easily, because nothing will push you toward a brownie more quickly than a congealed yogurt mix. Personally, if the brownie is home baked or on my counter, this new yogurt is going to stay in the fridge, but the lure of the yogurt is strong enough to keep me from hitting the road for a late night bakery run. In lieu of that brownie, well it's a really great snack.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Non-fat plain Greek style yogurt with a teaspoon or two of jam makes an excellent snack.
There were quite a few times in the 4.5 years since my older son (OS) was born, that I thought that I had hit the absolute worst part of parenting- sleepless nights, temper tantrums, the 4 year old attitude. Maybe that's a tad bit of an exaggeration; playing in the toilet was by far the worst. Then last week I thought I had found something even worse that "potty play" - administering eyedrops.
Giving my older son (OS) eye drops was similar to putting the cats in their carriers.
Putting Cats in their Carriers
Administering Eye Drops to OS
Perform a "cat scan" to find the cat(s). It works best if they are sleeping.
Close any doors to the room.
With the carrier in my hand, creep up on them in a James Bond-like fashion and then pounce.
Some hissing and scratching ensues.
While trying to avoid being bitten, wrestle the cat into the carrier.
Feel exhausted while receiving dirty looks, a hiss, and a look of betrayal.
Scan for OS. It works best if he is sleeping.
Close any doors to the room.
With the eye dropper in my hand, creep up on him in a James Bond-like fashion and then pounce.
Much hissing and scratching ensues.
While trying to avoid being bitten, wrestle OS into a position where I can pry his eyes open and administer the drops.
Feel exhausted while receiving dirty looks, a hiss, and a look of betrayal.
Neither cats nor boy were interested in hearing that I really didn't want to do this. Whenever the Big Giraffe is around, it at least goes a little easier.
During the follow-up visit to check on the progress of OS's alleged pink eye, I happened to tell the nurse practitioner how traumatic I found administering eye drops. She shared a fantastic tip that works for children and even for adults. Have your child close his eyes and tilt his head back. Put two drops in the corner of each eye. When the child opens his eyes the drops will fall right in without the trauma of seeing something aimed right at his eye and without requiring a wrestling match. You can do the same thing for yourself. If your child is really young, wait until right before he wakes up in the morning or from nap time and apply the drops in the corner. For the night time dosing, you're on your own.
I cannot emphasize enough how well this little trick worked with OS. He became far more comfortable with the process. Eye drops ceased to be a huge trauma, leaving me with a happier child and with more energy to deal with other traumas such as keeping OS calm when he wants to sit in supplant my younger son (YS) from sitting in the stroller. Unfortunately, I have not found an equivalent tip for putting my cats in the carrier without hissing, scratching, biting and whining. Hmmm...maybe not the last one.
Nurse Practitioner's Lesson Learned: Administering eye drops to a child or adult with eyes closed averts a lot of discomfort, wrestling matches, hissing, scratching, biting, and whining.
Last week was one of the most stressful weeks I've had as a parent. Two trips to the ER, one case of pink eye, one broken washing machine, and one dog on bed rest seem to have aged me by about twenty years. Alright, maybe that last part is a bit of an exaggeration, but I did feel like I hadn't slept in about a week. I had been looking forward to visiting Suzanne in NYC for the weekend, but after last week, I was counting down the hours.
I arrived late on Friday evening, and Suzanne and I stayed up until 2 AM talking. It was so much fun! I haven't done anything like that in a really long time. The next day I slept late. I also haven't done anything like that in a long time. After going for a 6 mile walk around Central park, we went to a wine and chesse party complete with a sommelier. Did I mention that I felt old? I have to say that it's at times like this that I really feel like a "mom".
I was dressed in a pair of jeans that were actually clean. Shocking, right? No trace of sticky little fingers anywhere! I was wearing one of my nicer sweaters. I arrived at the party feeling pretty good, but once I was inside I felt totally underdressed and completely frumpy. The women were all dressed in trendy clothes. I felt old. At one point Suzanne and I were discussing the pointy heels that many of the women wore. I was careful to be pretty quiet lest someone hear me and point out that I was wearing my LL Bean snow boats. Nice. When did I become so old? Yes, it was a 30th birthday party, but I'm only 32. I was already planning on getting my hair cut this week. Now it's a definite.
Despite feeling like "the mom" at the party, I had a fantastic time. Oh, wait I actually was the only mom at the party! I really enjoyed sampling learning about the wine. I actually found three that I really like. There was also the most amazing cake I have ever seen. Suzanne's husband is going to email me a picture, and then I'll post it. Sunday we finally went running. I was pretty pleased with it. Of course I have to admit, I felt a little stiff later. Now tell me again when I became so old?
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Parenting can age you.
For those of us who didn't get an instruction manual with our babies and for whom parenting hasn't always gone as planned. On a more serious note this blog is about supporting a woman's ability to make her own choices about parenting including the choice, for whatever reason, to bottle feed her babies formula.